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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)

July 9th, 2014

Why a Corporation Got a Religious Exemption, But a Photographer Didn’t

After the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, granting a corporation an exemption to a federal law on the grounds that the law “burdens the exercise of religion” of the company’s owners, we wondered: Why did the Supreme Court grant a religions exemption to a corporation, but decline to give a hearing to a New Mexico wedding photographer who refused to photograph a same-sex wedding for religious reasons?

In 2006, Elane Photography of Albuquerque declined to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony because of owner Elaine Huguenin’s religious objections. Elane Photography was found  in violation of New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law, which explicitly bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Elane Photography was ordered to pay more than $6,000 in attorneys fees and costs to Vanessa Willock, who filed the discrimination complaint.

After exhausting her appeals in New Mexico state courts, Huguenin tried to appeal her case to the US Supreme Court, which declined without explanation in April to hear her case. Two months later, on June 30, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby was exempt from a requirement under the Affordable Healthcare Act to provide employee health insurance coverage for certain types of  contraceptives because the requirement “substantially burdened” the company owners’ exercise of religion.

Did Hobby Lobby simply make a better legal argument for a religious exemption than Elaine Huguenin did? Could some other wedding photographer now win an exemption from photographing same-sex weddings for religious reasons by arguing that if Hobby Lobby got a religious exemption, then it’s only fair that a small business owner should get one, too?

It turns out that the cases are quite different. Hobby Lobby, a federal case, would have been no help to Elaine Huguenin, who broke a state law. Photographers opposed to shooting same-sex weddings, but who are subject to anti-discrimination laws, can’t invoke the Hobby Lobby decision to make religious freedom arguments, at least not in cases involving state laws.

“The Hobby Lobby [decision] doesn’t apply to state laws,” says Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University who has analyzed the Elane Photography case. He also emphasizes that the Hobby Lobby decision didn’t address an issue of constitutional law, which would trump state law. “Hobby Lobby was an interpretation of [federal] statute and it only modifies other federal statutes. It doesn’t modify state statutes.”

The court reached the Hobby Lobby decision on the grounds of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). That law, passed in 1993, prohibits the federal government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion–unless the action is the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest. The Supreme Court said there were less burdensome ways to provide the disputed insurance coverage to Hobby Lobby employees than to make Hobby Lobby provide it against the owners’ religious beliefs.

In the decision on the final Elane Photography v. Willock appeal, handed down last August, the New Mexico state supreme court upheld lower state court rulings against Elane Photography for discrimination. The court rejected Huguenin’s religious freedom and free speech arguments.

She had argued that under the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act (NMRFRA)–the state’s version of the federal law–her religious beliefs should be accommodated. But New Mexico’s high court ruled that the NMRFRA doesn’t apply to private disputes; a government entity has to be a party to the dispute, and that wasn’t the case in Elane Photography v. Willock.

Moreover, the court said, the wording of the NMRFRA bars state government agencies from restricting a person’s free exercise of religion; it doesn’t bar the New Mexico legislature from passing generally applicable laws, as long as they don’t directly discriminate against religion. For instance, a law that applies to everyone, but doesn’t interfere with the exercise of religion, is legal under New Mexico state law, even if some people have religious objections to the law.

Koppelman wrote in his analysis of the Elane Photography case, “After the loss in New Mexico…there was no hope of bringing the religious liberty claim to the Supreme Court. Huguenin lost her case under a [state] law that did not target religion, and the [US Supreme] Court has held that the Free Exercise clause does not create an exemption from neutral laws of general applicability.”

In other words, Huguenin couldn’t appeal to the US Supreme Court on the grounds that her constitutional rights of Free Exercise had been violated by the New Mexico anti-discrimination law; the state law passed muster according to an earlier Supreme Court ruling (Employment Div. v. Smith, 1990).

In response to that 1990 ruling, politicians of all stripes were outraged, so Congress passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] to restore protections of individual religious freedom from infringement by other federal laws. But even if Hobby Lobby had successfully invoked the RFRA before New Mexico courts found Huguenin in violation of state anti-discrimination laws, the Hobby Lobby decision wouldn’t have helped Huguenin because the RFRA has no effect on state laws.

In addition to rejecting Huguenin’s religious freedom claims, the New Mexico  supreme court also rejected her free speech claims. The state supreme court said, “The United States Supreme Court has made it clear that the First Amendment permits [anti-discrimination] regulation by states,” and that the New Mexico anti-discrimination law didn’t deprive Huguenin of her rights to free speech.

Huguenin tried to appeal to the US Supreme Court on Free Speech grounds, not Free Exercise grounds, but the Supreme Court declined without explanation to hear her case. Koppelman asserted in his article that the court rightly rejected the case because the New Mexico anti-discrimination law is “not a serious burden on free speech.”

It’s worth pointing out that the Elane Photography v. Willock decision applies only in New Mexico. Wedding photographers in about 30 other US states can refuse to photograph same-sex weddings for whatever reason–religious or otherwise–without consequence. That’s because federal law doesn’t bar providers of goods and services from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, and those 30 or so states also have no laws barring such discrimination. New Mexico just happens to be one of the 20 or so states where discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is now illegal.

Related:
US Supreme Court Declines New Mexico Wedding Photographer’s Discrimination Case
Photographer Who Refused to Shoot Same Sex Wedding Loses Another Appeal
NM Wedding Photogs Can’t Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples, Court Confirms
Photographer Loses Bid to Refuse Same Sex Wedding Jobs (PDN subscription required)

May 13th, 2014

Photojournalist Camille Lepage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic

In her most recent post on Instagram on May 6, slain photojournalist Camille Lepage shared a photograph of people she was traveling with and details about her location.

In her most recent post on Instagram on May 6, slain photojournalist Camille Lepage shared a photograph of anti balaka [Christian militia] she was traveling with and details about her location.

Camille Lepage, a 26-year-old French photojournalist, has been killed in the Central African Republic, say reports from the Associated Press and Reuters.

According to the Reuters report, citing a statement released today by French President Francois Hollande, Lepage’s body was found when French-affiliated soldiers stopped “a car driven by anti-balaka [Christian militia] groups, in the Bouar region.”

The Associated Press report, citing Lepage’s colleagues, says the photojournalist was caught in fighting “while traveling in a village about 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Bouar, near the country’s border with Cameroon.”

Lapage, who is from Angers, France, last posted on her social media accounts on May 6. In the caption to a photograph posted to her Instagram she wrote: “Travelling with the Anti Balaka to Amada Gaza, about 120km from Berberati, we left at 3.30am to avoid the Misca checkpoints and it took us 8 hours by motorbike as there is [sic] no proper roads to reach the village. In the region of Amada Gaza, 150 people were killed by the Seleka between March and now. Another attack took place on Sunday killing 6 people, the anti balaka Colonel Rock decides to send his elements there to patrol around and take people who fled to the bush back to their homes safely.”

In addition to covering Central African Republic, LePage had also photographed stories in South Sudan, and had been published in The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian and Le Monde among other publications. Lepage had also worked with Medecines Sans Frontiers, Amnesty International, the World Food Program, and other non-governmental organizations.

In their statement, the French President’s office called Lepage’s death a “murder,” saying, “Everything will be done to uncover the circumstances of this assassination and to track down who murdered our compatriot.”

March 31st, 2014

Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

The homepage of The Ones We Love, featuring a photo by Tatjana Suskic.

The homepage of The Ones We Love, featuring a photo by Tatjana Suskic.

On The Ones We Love, a web-based project created and curated by Lindley Warren, photographers share images of “people they love, cherish, and find inspiration within.” The site features work by photographers from all over the world, whose subjects range from lovers to friends to family members. The images are intimate and revealing—an exchange of looks, a laugh, an adventure, some nudity. At the top of each entry is a short text from the photographer, which is sometimes descriptive, other times abstract.

Warren launched the site earlier this year with work from ten photographers, and it’s grown since then to feature the work of more than 70. She posts daily, and receives a few submissions each day. Warren says she is trying “to create a quiet space,” with the project, “a place where people can go and be there with the photographs and be there with the intimacy of it.”

This is the second iteration of The Ones We Love. Warren initially created the site in 2008 for a class project when she was a 19-year-old art student. She reached out to a number of photographers and her correspondence with them inspired her to create the site. Warren wanted to “connect and to see a deeper part of these photographers’ lives,” she says.

Warren became interested in web-based curating after getting into photography as a teen. She wanted to connect with other aspiring artists. “Curating a website is a really great way to communicate with people, get to know them, get familiar with their work, and get familiar with work that you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise,” she explains.

Part of the reason she re-launched the site was that people continued to ask about it and tell her that it had an effect on them. There was a lot of support for the first iteration of The Ones We Love, Warren says, but as a busy student she didn’t quite “comprehend that it actually meant something to other people.” Since then, the number of web-based curatorial projects has grown exponentially, and she’s observed and been inspired by those sites, which gave her a better understanding of how viewers might see The Ones We Love. “Now when people say ‘I really like your project,’ it means a lot more, because I understand more fully on a personal level what they mean.”

UPDATE: A book of photographs from The Ones We Love will be released in August. The book, which is available for pre-order, will feature the work of 79 photographers.

February 17th, 2014

Robin Hammond Wins 2014 POYi World Understanding Award

©Robin Hammond

©Robin Hammond

Photographer Robin Hammond has won the 2014 World Understanding Award at the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition for “Condemned,” his widely acclaimed project about the neglect and mistreatment of the mentally ill in African countries ravaged by war and natural disaster.

The World Understanding Award is a category of POYi’s Reportage Division, which is open to freelance and agency photographers. Other categories and first place winners in the Reportage Division so far include:

Science & Natural History: Michael “Nick” Nichols, for an image of a black-maned lion on the Serengeti that he photographed for National Geographic as part of a feature story about lions.

Science & Natural History Picture Story: Pedro Armestre, for a story he shot for Greenpeace about the impacts of climate change on native communities of Greenland.

Environmental Vision Award: Erik Messori, for a story about the social and environmental costs of coal mining in India.

News Pictures Story: K M Asad, for a story about the rescue efforts after the collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh that killed more than 1100 workers, and the toll that the disaster took on the survivors.

Issue Reporting Story: Daniel Berehulak, for a story about the sudden and unexplained increase last year in life-threatening malnutrition among young children in Afghanistan.

Feature Picture Story: Fatemeh Behboudi, for her story about aging Iranian women who still await the return of bodies of sons they lost in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88).

Jurors are judging entries today for the Community Awareness Award, Photographer of the Year–Freelance, and Best Photography Book.

News Division and Sports Division category winners were selected last week. Editing Division and Multimedia Division entries will be judged over the next week.

Related articles:
Robin Hammond Wins $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Fund Grant (subscription required)

National Geographic Experiments with a New Form of Digital Storytelling
(Nick Nichols’ Serengeti Lions)

Barbara Davidson Names 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Patrick Smith Named POYi’s 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year

February 14th, 2014

John Stanmeyer Wins 2013 World Press Photo of the Year

© John Stanmeyer

© John Stanmeyer

American photographer John Stanmeyer won the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year for an image depicting African migrants standing on the beach in Djibouti, holding mobile phones aloft in an effort to get an inexpensive wireless signal from neighboring Somalia so they could reach family abroad. The World Press Organization announced the winners of the 57th annual contest at a press conference February 14 in Amsterdam.

Read the full story on PDNOnline.

December 23rd, 2013

Freelance Photographer Killed in Syria

Molhem Barakat ©Reuters

Molhem Barakat ©Reuters

A Syrian freelance photographer was killed in Aleppo December 20 while covering a battle between rebels and government forces for control of a hospital, according to a report from Reuters.

Molhem Barakat had contributed “dozens of photographs” of the conflict to Reuters since last May, according to the report, which provided few other details about the photographer.

The fighting between rebels and government forces for control of Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, has been intense in recent days. The government has launched air strikes on the city for the past week, according to news reports.

Twenty-two other journalists have died while covering the civil war in Syria during 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. More than 50 have been killed since the fighting there began in 2011.

December 16th, 2013

We Know Africa Is Not a Single Country, Newsweek Says

© Newsweek/photos © Tadej Znidarcic/Redux Pictures

© Newsweek/photos © Tadej Znidarcic/Redux Pictures

Today Newsweek.com published a story about the increasing dangers that gays face in Ethiopia, where sexual activity among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has been criminalized. The only problem: The story is illustrated with photos taken not in Ethiopia, but in Uganda. The portraits of LGBT individuals were taken by Tadej Znidarcic in 2009 as part of his project about anti-gay legislation that had been proposed in the Ugandan parliament. The photos appear in the Newsweek story about Ethiopia’s anti-gay laws without a caption or clarification about their subject  or location.

When we reached Newsweek for comment, we were told that, yes, the editors there do know that Ethiopia and Uganda are two different countries. Yes, there was concern at the magazine about using photos taken in one country three years ago to illustrate what’s happening in a different country today. But no, a caption won’t be added.

It wasn’t a simple error. It sounds like a tale involving limited photographic options, bad website design, a few bad choices and some embarrassment on Newsweek’s part.

The LGBT Ethiopians quoted in the story by writer Katie J.M. Baker had asked that their faces not be shown in the story, so options for portraits were limited. Baker  provided photos she had shot on a cellphone at a gathering of gay friends in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia, with their faces cut out of the frame, but her photos were small and pixelated. Wanting something more photographic, Newsweek photo editor remembered Znidarcic’s photos, which were exhibited in the Open Society’s Moving Walls exhibition in 2011 and shown on several blogs.

Znidarcic had photographed gay activists in Uganda facing a wall, their faces hidden, because at the time, the Ugandan parliament was debating a bill that would have imposed the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” Newsweek contacted Redux Pictures to license the photos, and informed Znidarcic about the subject of the story.

Though an editor at Newsweek was concerned that the images might be confusing or misleading, since they weren’t shot in Ethiopia, Newsweek ended up running them with the story anyway, above the words: “In many countries, it’s getting better for the LGBT community. In Ethiopia, it’s getting worse.”

That’s not the caption to the photo, a Newsweek staffer explained; that’s the deck to the story. The web page is designed with no caption. And for some reason, the writer or editors chose not to insert a photo caption into the text (for example, where comparisons were made to the 75 other countries in the world where same-sex sex has been criminalized). The lack of clarity about the photos mars a rare international story about topic under-reported in mainstream media.

Yes, we know that there are deadlines, and contingencies, and that web templates can be rigid and aren’t often designed with journalistic concerns in mind. But we have to wonder: Would the editors have illustrated a story about news in Germany with an image taken in Denmark?