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May 26th, 2010

Using Two Nikon D90s to Shoot 3D Portraits

May 26, 2010

By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

3D Nikon D90s

If you happen find yourself in Sydney, Australia on May 27th, you should check out an interesting new show that features 3D portraits created with two Nikon D90 cameras.

Entitled "Stereo Portrait Project," the show is the work of visual artists Alex Fry and Jamie Nimmo who mounted two D90s closely together on a custom wooden camera rig to emulate the distance of a pair of human eyes.

They shot the portraits using three synced SB900 Speedlight flashes and then sorted the pairs of photos in Apple Aperture

The shots were exported to Nuke, a compositing software, where final tweaks were performed before they were combined into Anagylphic 3D images. (Yes, that means you have to wear those funky two-color glasses to get the 3D effect when viewing these portraits.)

Along with the show, which will run at the Oh Really Gallery in Sydney until June 8th, the artists have produced 25 books of the portraits on Blurb.

More details on Nikon Rumors.


May 20th, 2010

Policy Drives Newspaper to Doctor Front Page Photo

May 20th, 2010



The Dominion Post of Morgantown, West Virginia altered a front page news photograph on May 15 to remove three public officials from the image, West Virginia Public Broadcasting has reported.

The paper’s editor explained that The Dominion Post has a policy–in effect during the political campaign season–against publishing photos of officials running for re-election.


The photo shows a bill-signing ceremony that was attended by six people: the West Virginia governor, two citizens with a personal interest in the bill (which toughened penalties for hit-and-run accidents) and three Democratic legislators who sponsored the bill.

The three legislators, all running for re-election, were digitally removed from the photograph published by The Dominion (above, right).

The original photograph (above left) was shot by Martin Valent, a photographer for the West Virginia Legislative Reference and Information Center. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Valent said, referring to the altered version of his photo. “This is beyond my comprehension.”

West Virginia Public Broadcasting says the editor of the newspaper expressed surprise that anyone would question the alteration to remove the three legislators, given that it was election season.

The paper did include the words “photo illustration” in the photo caption to indicate that the photo had been altered.

May 20th, 2010

Wedding Photo Disaster (Video)

May 20, 2010

What do you get when you pose the bride, groom and entire wedding party on a rickety old dock for a group photo? A total wedding FAIL. (Don't try this with your next client.)

FAIL. (Don't try this with your next client.)

Posted by Dan Havlik on May 20, 2010 at 11:38 AM

May 19th, 2010

Vincent Laforet Critiques Episode of House Shot with Canon 5D Mark II

May 19th, 2010

We catch some grief for mentioning Vincent Laforet's name in this blog from time to time (how dare we talk about someone who is making news in the photo industry!) but while watching the season finale of House the other night, we couldn't help but wonder what Mr. Reverie thought of the show considering it was shot entirely with a Canon 5D Mark II.

Laforet's saved us the trouble of calling him up and interviewing him by writing his own blog post entitled "Thoughts on 'House' Finale."

Like us, Laforet thought the episode looked "STUNNING."

But what impressed Laforet more than the performance of the 5D Mark II was the lighting, giving big kudos to House's Director of Photography Gale Tattersall. Read more here.

As a side note, we've received some questions from readers about whether Canon paid Fox to shoot the House finale with the 5D II. According to a Canon spokesperson, that was not the case.

"Canon did not pay or sponsor the show at all," said Len Musmeci, Senior Specialist in Public Relations at Canon U.S.A. "It was their decision to use the 5D Mark II."

If you missed the House finale, you can catch it on Fox's site for the next week.

May 18th, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull Timelapse Video Shot With 5D Mark II

Flush with cash from recent jobs and looking at ten days off in late April/early May, photographer and filmmaker Sean Stiegemeierdecided to head to Iceland to create a stop-motion video of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano as “a fun thing to show my friends,” he says.

“I’m somewhat weird like that. When I see something I want to do, I typically just go do it and worry about it later,” Steigemeier toldPDN via email. “It drives my girlfriend crazy.”

Using Canon’s 5D Mark II and 2.8 L series Zoom lenses, and a motorized timelapse dolly prototype loaned to him by MiLapse, Stiegemeier made use of the day-and-a-half window of decent weather he got while on location to create the above video, shot from pulled-back vantage points around the base of the volcano.
The trip took Stiegemeier from Seattle to Detroit (where he picked up the dolly and got a tutorial on how to use it on the floor of the airport), back to Seattle (flight to Reykjavik canceled), then to New York, Glasgow, the wrong part of Iceland and then, a six-hour bus ride later, to Reykjavik. 

After waiting out four days of bad weather, Stiegemeier got a window of decent conditions right before he was about to leave Iceland, during which time he shot the roughly 7000 stills that went into creating his video.  

Stiegemeier, who says he is “a firm believer in using technology to color correct and create the best looking images,” used HDR (high dynamic range) processing for some of the shots. He says it took four days for his computer to render the video, but he didn’t spend very much time choosing images, color correcting or editing because he didn’t expect many people to see it.

The video, posted to Vimeo seven days ago, has generated 600 comments and nearly 10,000 “likes” from viewers.

May 17th, 2010

LA Photographer Cleared of Criminal Charges

May 17th, 2010

LA photographer Jonas Lara had his day in court today. The criminal charges against him were dropped and the judge issued a court order for the release of his camera equipment, which had been held as evidence since his arrest on February 2, 2010.

Lara was fighting a charge of aiding and abetting two graffiti artists whose work he was documenting when the three men were arrested in South Central Los Angeles. (More on the case here.)

The photographer established a legal fund and appealed for donations after he was unable to convince his public defender that his rights as a photographer to document the work of the artists had some bearing on the case against him.

In just over a week, enough friends and colleagues in the photo community responded with donations for Lara to pay the retainer for The Kavinoky Law Firm, a group of California-based criminal lawyers.

Joel Koury, the attorney who represented Lara in court this morning, says his strategy was to “go in with guns blazing,” which caught the prosecutor off guard, because key evidence—pictures that the police claimed they took showing Lara’s hands with paint on them—had apparently gone missing. Koury says he doubts that the police ever took them.

The prosecutor, judge and Koury then discussed a formal diversion plea for the vandalism charge, which would have required Lara to perform community service over the course of 18 months before the case would be dismissed. Koury told the judge he would talk to Lara about agreeing to a six-month probationary period, but instead Lara and the attorney decided to stay on the offensive, refused the deal and pushed for a trial.

Koury also showed the prosecutor character letters colleagues had written on Lara’s behalf, proof that Lara was in art school and had published books of his work, and proof that he had a photography business registered with the IRS.

“We’re not talking about some gang member, we’re talking about an actual photojournalist,” Koury says he told the prosecutor. “Just because a photojournalist takes a picture of someone committing a crime does not turn the photographer into a criminal,” he adds.

The prosecutor then offered to knock the charge down to trespassing and agree to an informal diversion plea, but again Lara and his attorney refused.

Koury says he asked the prosecutor what was really important to her in the case, and she responded that the property owner had paid $200 to have the graffiti murals cleaned off the wall of the building.

Koury says that though he believes he would have beat the trespass charge in a jury trial, he offered at Lara’s behest to agree to have Lara pay the $200 restitution fee to the property owner in exchange for the charge being reduced to a disturbing the peace infraction.

Though Koury says he feels “a little bad” that Lara paid the restitution, the deal guaranteed Lara could walk away from court today with no criminal record rather than having to go through a jury trial.

The LAPD has still refused to return Lara’s camera equipment despite the judge’s order. When Lara went to the police station to retrieve his equipment the police were “really pissed off,” he says, and attempted to question him further about the February 2 incident.

Koury says it is just a case of “cops being a little bit stubborn.” He expects Lara should have his gear back in a day or so.

Lara first met with and hired The Kavinoky Law Firm yesterday afternoon. The firm, which typically commands retainers in the five figures, agreed to represent Lara for far less “because we were pissed off,” Koury says. “It was ridiculous that [a photojournalist] would find himself in that position.”

May 16th, 2010

A Quick Preview of The NYPF Pavilions

May 16th, 2010


The New York Photo Festival opened last night in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn with a speedy tour for members of the press. The festival’s four main galleries – called “pavilions” – feature so much strong work and provocative imagery that it seems quibbling to note that some of the shows in which these images appear lack coherent themes. 

It’s a criticism that was leveled at last year’s festival, too (most thoughtfully by Joerg Colberg ofConscientious).  In the festival’s third year, it may be time to give up trying to glean any significance in the juxtaposition of the images. Maybe the best way to approach the festival is just to poke around and see what’s cool. And consider the festival’s four main pavilions a lesson in how difficult it is to curate a show. 

Critic Vince Aletti said the death of the great still-life innovator Irving Penn last year inspired him to put together a show of contemporary still-life photographs.  “In the context of this Festival,” he said, choosing to focus on one of photography’s oldest genres “seems very conservative.” But sometimes the best ideas are the simple ones. “Object Lessons” brings together artists who photograph inanimate objects for a variety of purposes, from autobiography to abstraction. It includes Andrea Modica’s black and white studies of underpants; Sharon Core’s painterly images of food; Bill Jacobson’s graphic object studies; Sally Gall’s studies of spider webs and Adam Bartos’s large-format juxtapositions of objects that could be taken for homages to Penn’s editorial illustrations. 

For “Use Me, Abuse Me,” the prolific creative director and book publisher Erik Kessels wanted to look at how artists are painting on, drawing on,  cutting up and repurposing their own or other photographers’ images. Kessels noted that as more photography becomes digital, more artists “want to work with their hands again.” He also noted, “I was interested in how far you could stretch the use of photography these days.”  The show includes Linus Bill’s doodles, which were made by drawing with light on photographic paper; ceramics interpreting and incorporating photographs; and a family photo album in which artist Claudio Sola, after a fight with her father, stuck Darth Vader’s head over his image  (boy, that’s showing him).

Author and educator Fred Ritchin also seems interested in exploring what a photograph can be these days. Is it a “decisive moment” selected by the photographer? Ritchin’s show includes a series of surveillance photos by Michael Wolf, and what appear to be Constable-esque landscapes recording the changing seasons in a field, but were taken using a web camera by James Pomerantz, who has no idea where the camera has been set up. Can a portrait present a person’s essence? Ritchin’s show includes Robbie Cooper’s photos of video gamers dressed as their avatars; Linn Underhill’s photos of herself posing as various male artists; and a series of identity card portraits of Algerian women, posing without their veils, which Marc Garanger was forced to take when he served in the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence. Is a photograph a record of the present?  Jessica Ingram and Raphaele Dallaporta have probed history by photographing what appear to be unremarkable buildings but were actually the sites of past horrors:  murders committed during the Civil Rights era  (in Ingram’s photos) and modern-day slavery (in Dallaporta’s photos). The show also includes photos of Antarctica by Lim Young Kyun and social documentary images of poor Americans by Joseph Rodriguez.  Ritchin calls his show “Bodies in Question,” but it seems to pose several questions at once. 

The fourth guest "curator" for this year's Festival is Lou Reed. Reed took some of his favorite photo books and placed them in black portfolio cases. He also laid two framed Henry Darger illustrations on a table. The title of this display is “Hidden Books, Hidden Stories.”  He is also showing several dozen images from the books in a slide show set to a soundtrack he composed. The images are very nice. And that’s all there is to say about that. 

Besides the four guest curator pavilions, the Festival includes an exhibition of young Latin American photographers; a show of 24 photo essays on the theme of human rights and social justice presented by Anthropographia; “Warzone,” presented by the Noorderlicht Photo Festival;  images by the 2009 Tierney Fellowship winners; the inaugural show of the photographers in the Sombra Projects, which showcases “social documentary photography within a fine-art esthetic”; an exhibition of photos of North Korea by Liu Yuan, curated by photographer and editor Taj Forer, and other presentations and slide shows. The Festival continues through May 16.

(Photo © Sharon Core. From "Object Lessons" at the New York Photo Festival.)

May 14th, 2010

Sean Penn Sentenced for Paparazzo Attack. Was Justice Served?

May 14, 2010

Sean Penn has been sentenced to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service and 36 hours of anger management counseling after pleading no contest to vandalism charges stemming from an incident last October in which he allegedly kicked and punched a photographer.

Penn had been facing misdemeanor battery and vandalism charges, and faced up to 18 months in jail if convicted, according to an AP report. Penn's attorney explained that fighting the charges would just distract Penn, so he "decided to accept the terms and move on."

The incident involved paparazzo Jordan Dawes, who was staking out Penn with other photographers in LA last October 4. When Penn appeared, Dawes says he began shooting video of the actor from about 50 feet away. Penn then approached Dawes, and started "kicking my legs" and "Punched me in the arm and in my camera," Dawes told E! Online at the time. He's said since then that he had to have knee surgery as a result of Penn's attack.

Dawes filed a civil suit against the actor, which is still pending.

Another photographer at the scene caught part of the incident on video. Penn is seen approaching Dawes quickly, attempting to kick him (video grab shown here), and then chasing him across the street before retreating. Penn can be heard yelling, "Get out!" several times.

The incident lasted about 30 seconds, and is more suggestive of a snarling dog chasing another dog out of his territory than a full-blown assault.

What the video lacks, though, is any before or after context, and the photographer who shot it didn't manage to capture the alleged punch to Dawes' arm (he dropped his camera to retreat to the safety of his car instead). Nor did the video sound track capture Penn allegedly threatening to put Dawes "in a box" the next time he saw him.

But given all the ambiguity, and Penn's stiff sentence, we felt compelled to ask another paparazzo: Don't you just have to expect to take your lumps (or kicks, or even punches) now and again, given the provocative nature of paparazzi work? Or to put it more bluntly, is Dawes a real victim, or just a cry baby?

The photographer we spoke with agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity, and said he didn't know enough about the incident between Dawes and Penn to comment on that specifically.

But he did say, "Photographers know what to expect, especially with celebrities like Sean Penn. He's always challenged photographers." (Penn has attacked photographers physically in the past, but not for a number of years.)

"Some photographers instigate confrontations, because they're looking for easy money," our source told us. "I know photographers who do that. But most of the time, you [suck it up] unless you get seriously injured."

Posted by David Walker on May 14, 2010 at 3:23 PM

May 14th, 2010

Friday Fun: HBO’s True Blood to Be Shot with Canon 5D Mark IIs?

May 14th, 2010

First there was the much discussed season finale of Fox medical drama House, and now, it appears, that HBO's forked-tongue-in-cheek vampire series, True Blood, may also be shot with Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLRs.

According to Cinema 5D, the crew from True Blood just borrowed two Canon 5D Mark IIs and a Red Rock Micro rig from a noted Hollywood rental house to shoot the series. It also looks like they might be using Zeiss ZE lenses. (If you have HBO money, why not?)

Yes, this is a somewhat speculative story but considering how many TV shows, commercials and movies are being shot in high def with HD-DSLRs these days, it's very possible.

We'll add more details to this story as we get them. (via Wiegartner.)

May 13th, 2010

Daylight Magazine Photo Awards: Call for Entries deadline May 15, 2010

May 13, 2010


VINCE ALETTI, writer/critic, the New Yorker magazine;

DARIUS HIMES, editor/curator, Radius Books;

JULIE SAUL, gallery owner/director, Julie Saul Gallery;

ALEC SOTH, photographer; 

HANK WILLIS THOMAS, photographer; 

JAMIE WELLFORD, international photo editor, Newsweek magazine

TAJ FORER and MICHAEL ITKOFF, editors, Daylight Magazine

ALEXA DILWORTH, publishing director, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University 

COURTNEY REID-EATON, exhibitions director, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

 Daylight Magazine and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University have started an international competition, the Daylight/CDS Photo Awards, to honor and promote talented and committed photographers, both emerging and established.