You are currently browsing the archives for the Uncategorized category.

November 14th, 2014

New Book Explores the Rich and Wacky History of Toy and Novelty Cameras

 

The Charlie Tuna camera,  manufactured in 1971.

The Charlie Tuna camera, manufactured in 1971, could be had for three StarKist tuna labels and $4.95. Photo by J.K. Putnam.

Early in his career, renowned fine-art photographer Stephen Shore made a project using a Mick-a-Matic, a snapshot camera shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse. True story.

It’s funny to imagine one of America’s foremost photographers out in the world making art with a Mickey Mouse head hanging from his neck. But many artists have used toy and novelty cameras. For Shore, the Mick-a-Matic allowed him to explore snapshot photography as a concept and phenomenon at a time when photography as an art form was formal and almost exclusively shot in black-and-white.

Other artists are drawn to the unpredictability of toy and plastic cameras. Photographers “love these toys, they love the authenticity of the unexpected,” says Buzz Poole, co-author of Camera Crazy, a new book that recalls the history of mass-market cameras, from the Eastman Kodak Brownie Camera, released in 1900, up through present day toy cameras. The book is a delightful look at the fascinating and, at times, ridiculous forms cameras have taken. In addition to popular and well-known cameras from Diana, Holga and Lomography, there is a Fred Flintstone camera, soda and beer can cameras, a Charlie the Tuna camera, a Looney Tunes camera that talks, and a spy camera shaped like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups package. “That is just a weird product,” Poole laughs. “[The manual] tells you how to trick people into stopping so you can get a clear picture of them without them knowing.” (more…)

November 12th, 2014

DJI One-Ups Phantom With More Powerful, 4K-Recording Inspire 1 Photo Drone

647A2041

 

DJI has a new flying camera in its growing air force of drones.

Billed as a step-up for the Phantom 2 but smaller and more approachable than the Spreading Wings line, the Inspire 1 quadcopter will have more lift and stability than the Phantom thanks to its 13-inch propellers. It also sports something no other drone in its class currently does: an integrated 4K camera.

The camera uses a 12-megapixel Sony sensor and is capable of 4k/30p video recording and RAW still photo capture. In addition to 4K, the Inspire 1′s camera can record 1080p HD video with varying frame rates between 24 and 60 fps in either MOV or MP4 formats. It’s capable of burst shooting up to 7 fps.

There’s a fixed focus lens that’s threaded so you can screw in ND filters before you take flight. The camera rests on a 3-axis gimbal to maintain stability while airborne.

While the Inspire 1 won’t accept third party cameras, DJI’s Director of Aerial Imaging Eric Cheng tells us that the system is modular so that you can replace the camera in the future if and when DJI makes a new camera available for this platform.

The new drone features a design that transforms into a v-shape as it takes flight, allowing the camera to drop down below the landing gear giving it an unobstructed 360 degree field of view.

647A2339The Inspire 1 is stabilized using an optical flow package with a dedicated camera and ultrasonic sensors that helps orient the drone in the air indoors or without GPS, a first for UAVs in this category, Cheng says. The system is for use at low altitudes (under 5 meters) with plenty of light and a varied surface patter. Cheng said it would be particularly useful in cities where GPS’s 2-meter margin for error may be too wide to avoid obstructions.

You’ll also find built-in Lightbridge, DJI’s technology for wirelessly transmitting 1080p video to mobile devices up to 1.7 km away to aid in composition while in flight.

The Inspire 1 has enough bandwidth to not only accommodate an HD signal but also full metadata, analog video for pilot steering and 16 channels of RC control. A single, technically adept operator could thus not only steer the drone but operate the camera too, all from a single controller, Cheng said. You will, however, still have the option for dual control (one pilot, one camera operator).

The on-board battery can keep the Inspire 1 aloft for up to 18 minutes and you’ll be able to monitor the battery’s life throughout your flight. The total platform (including battery, gimbal and camera) weighs roughly 6.5 pounds.

DJI has also revamped its app, allowing for a live map with flight route and flight telemetry data, plus remaining battery life and manual camera controls.

It will cost $2,899 with one controller or $3,399 with two.

In addition to the new drone, DJI is also releasing an SDK today so that third party developers can create Android and iOS apps for the company’s Phantom 2 Vision series of drones. Many users are interested in industrial mapping applications, Cheng says, but a few photo and video-centric apps are in the works as well that will allow users to edit and share videos from mobile devices and ensure flights comply with regulations.

App developers will have access to the drone’s camera, including video transmission, positioning, settings and image storage. They’ll also have access to live telemetry (flight speed, latitude, longitude, distance travelled, etc.) and flight control.

647A2058

October 27th, 2014

Obituary: David Armstrong, Age 60

Photographic artist David Armstrong, who first made his name as a member of the “Boston School” with Jack Pierson, Mark Morrisroe and Nan Goldin, and eventually shot for Vogue, GQ, and other fashion clients, died October 25, in Los Angeles, from liver cancer.  He was 60 years old.  Vogue.com reported that Armstrong’s agent, Jed Root, had confirmed the news.

Born in Arlington, Massachusetts, Armstrong was also very much of New York City, his long-time home. With intentions to become a painter, he attended the Boston Museum School and Cooper Union in New York. He received his B.F.A. from Tufts in 1988.

Along with fellow “Boston School” contemporaries like Stephen “Tabboo!” Tashjian, Armstrong and his friends made art of their lives in the counterculture. He first met Nan Goldin as a teenager, and their work was first shown together at PS1′s “New York/New Wave” exhibit in 1981.

David Armstrong 615 Jefferson

The cover of David Armstrong’s 2011 monograph 615 Jefferson Avenue. © Damiani/Photo by David Armstrong

Armstrong is often cited as having had a significant influence on Ryan McGinley, who also turned an interesting life with beautiful young friends into photographic art. Much of Armstrong’s work features lots of natural light, and his gaze is unmistakably erotic. Throughout his career, he made sharp-focused portraits of beautiful young boys, but he also made cityscapes in soft focus, especially after moving to Berlin in the early 1990s. His work was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial.

Armstrong ushered into the universe of fashion by designer Hedi Slimane, who first commissioned him to make backstage photos of his work at Dior Homme. He would go on to be published in the French, Italian and Japanese editions of Vogue, Arena Homme+, GQ and Out, among other magazines, and counted Ermenegildo Zegna, Kenneth Cole, Burberry, Puma and Rodarte amongst his commercial clients.

Over his career he published several books, including a 1994 collaboration with his old friend, Nan Goldin/David Armstrong: A Double Life; he also published1997′s The Silver Cord, and a 2012 pressing of 30-plus-year-old photographs called Night & Day. His final monograph, 615 Jefferson Avenue, is comprised of bright portraits of male models taken at his house in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

In a conversation with old friend Jack Pierson about his process and motivation, published in Out magazine in 2011, he said, “I always think you want to come away with some beautiful, beautiful picture of the person, the boy, that’s really everything you want to express about them. Or, at least something you can rub one out to.”

October 22nd, 2014

Tumblr Photo Community Calls Out Sexist ‘Recommended Photogs’ List

Social blogging platform Tumblr boasts a robust community of professional photographers, some of whom have used the platform to raise issues of social equality in the photography business. Most recently a handful of photographers called out a quarterly French photography magazine, Selektor, for publishing a list of 100 photographers to follow on Tumblr that included just eight women.

Selektor generated the list, which it published on its own Tumblr, by simply compiling the blogs of all of the photographers it had featured. After both female and male photographers pointed out the disparity, Selektor‘s founder, Loïc Thisse, admitted in a subsequent post that he “never thought to check the proportion of women photographers” he was featuring, he was simply operating based on his personal taste.

His mistake, he writes, was that he didn’t recognize that “Selecting and showing artists publicly is not like sharing one’s personal tastes. It is quite another thing. There are other issues. The representation of women is one of them.”

Tammy Mercure responded to Selektor’s list by generating one of her own, which included more than 70 women photographers to follow on Tumblr. “There is still systematic sexism at work in the photo world,” Mercure wrote in her post. But, she notes, she’s seen “great strides in equity for women and people with diverse backgrounds” in publications and “most places” on Tumblr.

Interestingly more than 1100 people noted or shared Mercure’s post, while fewer than 900 noted Selektor’s post.

Related: How One Magazine Strives for Gender Balance in Assignments
Are Women Photographers Being Discriminated Against in the Editorial Market?

October 6th, 2014

Adobe Updates Creative Cloud with Focus on Mobile

Adobe Shape 3

Adobe announced a series of updates to its Creative Cloud suite of software products in an effort to better unite the desktop and mobile experience into a unified whole.

Among the changes is a new profile setting that lets Creative Cloud users upload brushes, styles, fonts, photos, textures and more so that they have access to them on any device. Touch screen support for Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface devices has been also been expanded as has support for 3D printing in Photoshop. Adobe’s Premiere video editor has been updated for GPU-optimized playback and editing of 4K video files.

For those in search of extra vectors, brushes, icons and other design elements, Adobe is introducing a Creative Cloud market which will house all of the above in a freely accessible library for both desktop and mobile users.

Adobe was also busy renaming and updating its mobile apps. Among the highlights:

  • Photoshop Mix is now available on the iPhone.
  • Lightroom Mobile has been updated to allow online commenting as well as syncing iPhone GPS data with the desktop Lightroom.
  • Adobe Ideas has been renamed Illustrator Draw.
  • Premiere Clip is now available for iOS devices to perform light video edits on the go.
  • A new Adobe Brush app lets you photograph a design and turn it into a Photoshop brush style.
  • A new Shapes app will convert any photo into a vector drawing.
  • Adobe Kuler has been renamed Adobe Color and lets you photograph a color and add it to your themes (which are tied to your Creative Cloud profile).

Finally, a major update to Adobe’s Behance online portfolio service will add a Talent Search feature so prospective employers can comb through the Behance network in search of qualified editors and artists. There will be a public job board and a recommendation engine that will help surface user profiles for those searching the site for creative talent to hire.

The Behance Talent Search is live now and Adobe’s Creative Cloud update will roll out to users by the end of the day today.

October 2nd, 2014

“How Come This Stuff Isn’t Animated?” The Story of Mr. GIF

Pop star Miley Cyrus and the rapper 2 Chainz backstage at Jeremy Scott's S/S 2015 show at New York fashion week. © Mr. GIF

Pop star Miley Cyrus and the rapper 2 Chainz backstage at Jeremy Scott’s S/S 2015 show at New York fashion week. © Mr. GIF for Milk Made

Mr. GIF wants to animate the Internet. The creative duo has made photographing and illustrating GIFs—the 27-year-old bitmap image format that supports crude animation—their calling card. They’re the team that Marc Ecko, Evian and Transamerica tap when they need to quickly make strong, easily shareable moving images for whatever they’re selling. In just a few short years, they evolved from a pair of daydreaming MTV plebes to shooting Miley Cyrus and 2Chainz backstage at fashion week. To them, still images that move were obviously taylor-made for the Internet and its thousands of screens. But can you really make a career of making GIFs?

The duo, Jimmy Repeat and Mark Portillo, are college buddies. They studied advertising design together at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Their studies were almost irrelevant—Portillo didn’t even finish—but the renowned art and design school is where the two would meet. Less than seven years later, they would quit their jobs to make GIFs—the full-time for clients like and others. Even an insurance company.

Having gone their separate ways after school, Repeat and Portillo reconnected under the umbrella of Viacom, at MTV’s “Geek” vertical, which covers cartoons, comics and videogames. Doing research for work, they devoured the same comics, but were struck by the format’s limitations.

Maria Sharapova for Evian at the U.S. Open © Mr. GIF

Maria Sharapova for Evian at the U.S. Open © Mr. GIF

“We were like, ‘How come this stuff isn’t animated yet?’” Portillo remembers. “We read Akira and we were like, “If this background was giving me seizures, it would be so much better.’”

So they dreamed up a GIF comic over smoke breaks outside Viacom’s Times Square HQ, and quickly learned why animation was so expensive (it’s a lot of work!). They abandoned the book idea, throwing the frames they’d finished up on Tumblr. But they were having fun. Illustrations gave way to photos, and a thought: “How is the GIF better than the JPEG?”

“We saw the potential,” Repeat says. “Everywhere you look, there’s a screen.”

As relative neophytes—Repeat especially—they were intrigued by the technology of photography. They experimented with odd cameras well-suited to the medium; at first, digital models like the Fujifilm FinePix Real3D W3, but they would later become obsessed with the aesthetics of analog. Toy cameras like Lomography’s Pop 9 (a nine-lens camera that makes nine exposures at once) and ActionSampler (four lenses, four consecutive frames), even 3D film cameras like the Nimslo 3D. The multi-exposure cameras helped streamline their workflow—helpful, as they had to develop and scan each frame to animate their GIFs. They found creative ways to merge digital and analog, using a DSLR to make time-lapse clips of instant film as it developed. They have a lot of cameras.

Marc Ecko, founder of Eckō Enterprises, Mr. GIF’s first big client. © Mr. GIF

They spent their nights and weekends making GIFs and posting them to Tumblr for free. It wasn’t long before Mark Ecko came calling (tweeting, actually) with their first paid gig, animating his upcoming TEDx presentation. They powered through it in three days. “I think we made 200-300 GIFs in one night,” Portillo says. “It was intense.”

“That was the beginning of the end for our day jobs,” Repeat says. “Like, ‘Oh, this is what a good client’s like?” Ecko dug the work, and they started to get more gigs. They GIF’d the U.S. Open for Evian, and fashion week for Tumblr. By 2013, they had quit MTV, and would soon score a huge project: a year-long Tumblr promoting the San Francisco-based insurance company Transamerica’s “Transform Tomorrow” campaign.

The pair convinced Transamerica to send them across the country making GIFs of America’s cities. They flew drones over rooftop gardens in Detroit, Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota and, of course, San Francisco and the iconic Transamerica building. They booked a room at a luxury hotel with the perfect view for a 24-hour time-lapse of the skyline. Transamerica was skeptical of the format—until they saw the popularity of the first clip they posted. Now, when you go to www.transformtomorrow.com, their fancy hotel view of San Francisco graces the background, the current time of day reflected by the time of day in the 24-hour time-lapse they made.

A time-lapse GIF of the San Francisco skyline, that Mr. GIF made for Transamerica, prominently featuring their iconic headquarters. © Mr. GIF

A time-lapse GIF of the San Francisco skyline, that Mr. GIF made for Transamerica, prominently featuring their iconic headquarters. © Mr. GIF

Now certified pros, they’re still almost instinctively inventive with their resources. When a client that was supposed to fly them out and put them up in Austin, TX, to shoot a SXSW panel told them that they had to pay their own way, they got their drive down to Texas sponsored. Their friends at Tumblr would connect them with Transamerica, but it was the GIFs they shot on the trip to Austin that would help them land the gig. When a job for St. Ives took them to Hawaii, they stayed an extra week and shot Honolulu for Transamerica. Since they like to shoot film (which is expensive to buy and process), rather than go to a professional processing house, they trained the local CVS employees how to prep and cut their negatives, adding a healthy tip for their trouble.

One thing they learned early on is that new work leads to new work. They needed to show clients they could make the work, so before they had paid work to show, they just did it for free, and for fun. The fun shows up in the work, and it works.

September 17th, 2014

Sportsnet: Assigning Sports Photography, Canadian Style

SPNM09_STROMAN02-555px

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.”

SPNM14_048-49-555px

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.

EVANDER 8998 FLAT_FINALnew

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: Ricoh Tips K-Mount Lens Plans

pentax_16_85mm_01

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.

pentax_photokina_2014_01

 

pentax_photokina_2014_02

 

August 5th, 2014

Photogs Marcus Bleasdale, Steve Ringman Win Environmental Journalism Awards

The Society of Environmental Journalists announced their 2014 awards for reporting on the environment yesterday. Seattle Times staffer Steve Ringman and VII’s Marcus Bleasdale were among the honorees.

Ringman was recognized for his work with writer Craig Allen Welch on “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn,” the Seattle Times‘ multi-part investigation of ocean acidification and its impacts on the Pacific Ocean. (PDN spoke with Ringman and the Seattle Times about the creation of the “Sea Change” for our December 2013 issue. Read that feature here.) Ringman and Welch received the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting for a large market publication, the top award given by SEJ.

Bleasdale received the award for Outstanding Environmental Photojournalism for “The Price of Precious,” his story on conflict mineral mining in Congo, which was published by National Geographic. (PDN featured Bleasdale’s long-term project on conflict minerals in our December 2013 issue. Read that story here.)

Second place in the Environmental Photojournalism category went to J. Carl Ganter, Matt Black and Brian Lehmann for their photographs examining the effects of water scarcity, published in Circle of Blue. Jenny E. Ross received a third place mention for her photo essay on polar bears, published by Natural History magazine.

The awards will be given out during a ceremony at the SEJ’s annual conference, which takes place in New Orleans in early September.

Related: MSNBC.com: A Place for Serious Photo Stories (Subscribers only)