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February 12th, 2014

Does The NY Times’ Sochi Photo “Firehose” Do Photogs a Disservice?

Today The New York Times launched a live stream of images from Sochi, which they’re dubbing a “Firehose.” It funnels images by Times photographers and from the paper’s wire service feeds, and evidently there will be roughly 14,000 images per day coming through the, ahem, hose.

The images are running without captions. And while there are many great photographs, there are many others that leave us to guess what’s happening in the image, and which are pretty ho-hum without context (see: athlete celebrating win, for something, who knows what?)

There are good things about the site. It has a simple design and big photos. It’s giving a lot of images that wouldn’t make it into media outlets a run in a central place. And the site is presented by United Airlines, so they aren’t just giving this away. People who love sports pictures and can’t get enough of them can watch them stream by, and so what if there are no captions? Most of them you can figure out. And it’s not as if this replaces galleries of edited and captioned pictures.

But does this diminish not only the perceived value of the images, but also the editorial selection and captioning process at a time when the public perception of photography is that it’s so abundant it’s worth very little? Maybe. The name “Firehose” seems like self-parody, an admission that the flow of images has devalued photography to the point that the Times has decided to just throw up their hands and open the valve.

Perhaps we’re making too much of this? Maybe we should sit back and let the stream wash over us? What you do you think, dear reader?

February 5th, 2014

2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers at Sochi is True

(The following op-ed was written by photographer Jeff Cable who is in Sochi, Russia covering the 2014 Winter Olympics. The story originally appeared on Cable’s blog in a slightly different form. You can follow Cable’s experiences at the Winter Olympics on his Facebook page.)

By Jeff Cable

2014_Winter_Olympics_logo.mYou know all those articles that talk about the problems at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? Well, guess what…they are all true.

Yesterday, my day started off great. The drive to the Moscow airport was perfect, with little congestion and Wi-Fi in the taxi. I got to the airport in Moscow and navigated the system really well, running into some friends from Canon, and I even managed to get my camera bag on carry-on this time.

The flight to Sochi was smooth and we arrived early. I got all my luggage, got my credentials blessed at the airport, found the right press bus and I was feeling great.

Then we got to the “hotel” and I use the word loosely.

We arrived at a cluster of 16 buildings that look like dormitories. There was no reception area for us to check in, there was just one building which had a large dirty room with people scrambling to get us situated.

They obviously did not have rooms assigned to anyone as each of us that showed up were given successive hotel rooms, me in 256, the next person in 257, etc. So my new neighbors and I went up to the 4th floor to our rooms and were shocked when we saw our living space.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

Remember, these are brand new buildings! The floors are so filthy that I don’t think they were ever vacuumed after the construction was done. There is almost no furniture in the room, and what is there is almost unusable.

There are small TVs in the rooms, but they do not work. There are no phones in the rooms and worse yet, there is NO Internet at all. No hard wired and no wireless. I am writing this blog from a downstairs common room in a different building (with 15 other pissed off media), and I swear the Internet is running at dial-up speeds.

How is it that a country that spends almost $50 billion on the Olympics can end up with accommodations like this? Seriously, it is embarrassing. If I told you how much I paid for this “hotel room” you would choke.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

The good news is that I do have four walls around me, and I do have a bed. I am not sure if I have hot water yet, since I tried running the sink to get hot water and it didn’t work. I found a lady who looked like she might work here and she told me to let it run for 10 minutes. It might get warm then.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

I visited some friends at the Main Press Center tonight (which is an amazing building, by the way) and they were all laughing about the showers with no shower curtains, the cleaning service which does not exist, and the lack of communications in 20 press buildings.

I even heard a story of one of the guys from the USOC who showed up to his hotel in the mountains, only to find a construction site. So I guess I should be happy to have a room.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

Starting in a couple of days, I will spend very little time in this building, as the Olympics will be all consuming. But for now, it is incredibly frustrating.

I would post more photos but the Internet is so bad that myself and 15 other photographers are just trying to post text.

Read Cable’s follow-up post on Sochi here.

February 15th, 2013

Ezra Shaw Named POYi Sports Photographer of the Year

Gabrielle Douglas on the beam at the 2012 Olympics in London. ©Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Gabrielle Douglas on the beam at the 2012 Olympics in London. ©Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw of Getty Images has been named Sports Photographer of the Year in the 70th annual Pictures of the Year International competition. His winning portfolio includes dramatic action and feature photos from a a wide range of sports: cycling, snow boarding, America’s Cup sailing, baseball, football, and the 2012 summer Olympics.

Quinn Rooney of Getty Images and freelancer Donald Miralle were first and second runners up, respectively, for Sports Photographer of the Year.

POYi jurors awarded first prize for Sports Editing to The New York Times, for a story titled “Their Golden Years,” a portrait-driven story about U.S. athletes who competed in the 1948 Olympics in London.

In other POYi developments, Swedish photographer Casper Hedberg won top prize in the Sports Picture Story category for a story about Afghanistan’s national sport, called buzkashi. The description accompanying Hedberg’s pictures says: “Every Friday, thousands of spectators goes to the fields north of Kabul to witness this grand spectacle in which hundreds of men on horseback [fight] for a dead calf or a carcass of a lamb…It’s crowded, sweaty and speedy.”

Judging for the POYi Reportage division began yesterday. Iwan Baan’s aerial photo of the blackout in lower Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy took first prize in the Science & Natural History category.

Other Reportage division categories will be judged through Sunday, culminating with the selection of Freelance Photographer of the Year. Judging for the Editing Division prizes begins Monday, February 18. The final round of judging–which is for the Multimedia Division prizes–begins February 22.

Here’s a re-cap of top winners for each category so far:

Newspaper Photographer of the Year: Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter, Sweden.
Spot News: Manu Brabo, AP
General News: Bernat Armangue, AP
Feature: Ng Han Guan, AP
Newspaper Picture Story: Kevin Sutherland, The Sunday Times, Johannesburg (unconfirmed)
Issue Reporting Picture Story: Liz O. Baylen, The Los Angeles Times
Feature Picture Story: Dave Weatherwax, The Herald, Jasper, Indiana
Campaign 2012: Carolyn Kaster, AP
Presidential Campaign 2012: Brian Snyder, Reuters
Campaign Picture Story: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
Portrait: Daniel Ochoa de Olza, AP
Portrait Series: Oded Balilty, AP
Sports Action: Jessica Hill, AP
Recreational Sports: Jessica Rinaldi, freelance
Sports Feature: Mike Roemer, AP
Olympic Action: Alberto Pizzolo, AFP
Olympic Feature: Quinn Rooney, Getty Images

Related:

Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter Wins POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Associated Press Wins Top Portrait Prizes at POYi

POYi Announces Campaign, Spot News, and Feature Category Winners

July 19th, 2012

New Gizmos at the Olympics: AP’s Robotic Cameras

Major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Olympic games are the incubation grounds for new camera technology, because news organizations are jockeying for competitive advantage and a chance to show off. And the Summer Olympics in London are no exception.

Associated Press has posted this promotional video touting the robotic cameras it has developed for this year’s games. Remote cameras are usually fixed, but operators of AP’s remote robotic cameras will be able to pan, zoom, and swivel the camera up and down using a joy stick, as they monitor the view on a computer screen–and click the shutter at decisive moments.

AP says it will have a robotic camera in each of 12 different venues. Anticipating where all this might be leading, we asked whether a single operator will be controlling several cameras at once, and whether operators can work from far-off locations–say a desk in New York–similar to the way the military flies its drones.

AP spokesperson Paul Colford says there will be one operator per camera. He adds that according to AP director of photography Santiago Lyon, the operator has to be at the venue where the camera is located, “because otherwise there would be a delay in what the operator is seeing.”

June 14th, 2012

Canon USA Says Delayed 1D X DSLR Will Go On Sale in Mid-June

We just got official word from Canon U.S.A. that the delayed Canon EOS-1D X professional digital SLR will finally go on sale in mid-June, in time for the summer Olympics in London.

“The EOS-1D X cameras will be arriving in mid-June to select dealers in small quantities and increase gradually over time,” a Canon U.S.A. spokesperson told PDN. “They will be here in time for the Olympics and will be available.”

The 2012 Summer Olympics run from July 27th to August 12th.

The spokesperson did not explain why the 18-megapixel, full-frame flagship DSLR, which was initially supposed to ship in March 2012, has taken so long to come to market.

The camera, which can shoot 12 frames per second and shoots 1080p HD video, will sell for $6,800 body only.

We got some early hands-on time with a pre-production Canon 1D X way back in October 2011 and wrote this preview story.

August 26th, 2010

Canon Lens Mug Guy Gets a Nikon DSLR Birthday Cake

To paraphrase George Costanza, worlds have collided!

Nikon-cake Microsoftie Josh Weisberg, the guy we wrote about earlier this year who rose to fame when he secured a coveted Canon lens mug at the Vancouver Olympics (sorry, that original post was destroyed when our blog went down), recently celebrated his 40th birthday with, get this, a birthday cake in the shape of a giant Nikon digital SLR.

Josh’s friend Mia made it for him, basing it on an old D200 he loaned her. (Ok, so maybe he’s not a Canon guy, after all.)

Josh reports that the entire cake is edible, including the printed labels which are made of edible ink; the plastic on the LCD panels; the lens; and the back cover which are made of sugar.

Happy birthday Josh! And maybe for your next one Mia can make a cake shaped like a Canon lens mug. Talk about worlds colliding.

Nikon-bday-cake-2