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October 3rd, 2012

Brazilian Artist and Two New Yorkers Transform New York City

(Sponsored Post)

Bel Borba Aqui New York (BBANY) is a multi-facetted visual art project by Bel Borba, Burt Sun and André Costantini. It was conceived after André and Burt completed a feature length documentary entitled “Bel Borba Aqui”, on Brazilian artist Bel Borba (which opens at the Film Forum in NYC on October 3rd.) BBANY overlaps the theatrical release of the film in addition to creating live street art and a new short film posted every day for 30 days. Where “Bel Borba Aqui”, the feature film, was filmed entirely in his hometown, Salvador, Bahia, BBANY seeks to bring Bel’s transformative artistic interventions to New York City.

It seems that sometimes the lines between art and life become blurred. What started as a journey documenting art became the art itself. So it was appropriate that the 30 days of street art is presented with support of the Crossing the Line Art Festival part of the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF).

Bel Borba Aqui New York can be broken down into the following components. ”Diario Baiano” (The Diary of a man from Bahia region of Brazil) is a challenge to create art for 30 days on the streets of the 5 boroughs of NYC from September 14th to October 13th. While Bel creates installations and ephemeral art using mostly recycled materials, Burt and André document his actions using D-SLR’s taking advantage of both still and video capabilities. Because the art is temporary, the short films ultimately become the tangible art piece. Every day after shooting, André edits the film which is uploaded and viewable at http://diariobaiano.wordpress.com/ Then on Sunday October 14 many of the sculptural artworks created from recycled water barriers will be installed in Times Square by Father Duffy Square for a public showing for a 24 hour period.

Also in Times Square, for the entire month of October, as part of the “Times Square Moment: A Digital Gallery” will be the first film ever created specifically for the Times Square Art Alliance by Bel, Burt and André and is entitled “Universal Pulse.” The collaboration depicts visual transformations on the NYC landscape evoking at once a sense of present and nostalgia. It will simultaneously occupy 16 Jumbotron screens around the square and can be viewed once a day from 11:57pm to midnight.

August 27th, 2012

Studio Lighting Made in Germany – For Almost 65 Years Multiblitz® Creates Studio Lighting Equipment for Professional Photography.

Sponsored Post

Multiblitz®, the German manufacturer with the longest tradition in developing studio lighting for professional photographers around the world, brings German-engineered state-of-the-art lighting equipment to the US.

Named after Harold G. Edgerton’s famous multi-flash exposures in 1949, Multiblitz pioneered the development of the first electronic flash unit in continental Europe in the late 1940s. At Photokina 1976, Multiblitz forever changed the photography world, by introducing the industry’s first compact monolight, the Ministudio 202. It was the first compact studio flash that could be easily stored in a case, including tripods and umbrellas – the first studio lighting kit was born. Since then, Multiblitz was accountable for many innovative products that were well ahead of their time, culminating in the TIPA Award winning flash system Profilux Plus in 2010.

The Multiblitz Profilux monolights are designed for the ambitious amateur/emerging professional. Available in 250 & 500 Ws versions, both models feature 5 f-stops – adjustable in 1/10th increments. The battery operable Profilux Plus monolight targets the professional photographer with more energy output and shorter flash durations. It is available in 200, 400, and 800 Ws versions with 7 and 8 f-stops respectively (800 Ws model), also adjustable in 1/10th increments. The multi-voltage Profilux Plus units can be powered with Multiblitz Propac battery packs, delivering up to 3200 on-location flashes at maximum output. All flash units are fan-cooled, automatically dissipate flash energy, and covered under a 3-year manufacturer warranty.

Propac Battery Pack w/Trolley

Multiblitz manufactures at the company’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany. Here, a 55,000 sq ft facility houses the entire production cycle. From conceiving an idea, designing and engineering the product, to finally manufacturing studio lighting equipment. With over 60 years of experience in developing premium studio lighting, Multiblitz is the most experienced manufacturer for photographic lighting equipment.

“Our products are an alternative to over-priced brands or cheap imports from Asia.” said Veit Wulms, president of Multiblitz USA. “We give amateurs and professionals the opportunity to experience German-made, premium quality studio lighting at a reasonable price. Here in America, Multiblitz products are sold directly at our online store. With this strategy we can guarantee competitive prices and excellent customer service.”

Starting in August 2012, Demo Events will familiarize photographers with Multiblitz equipment. Photographers will have the chance to get hands-on experience with Multiblitz studio lighting equipment in a real-life situation.

For more information about Multiblitz Studio Lighting, products and demo events, contact Multiblitz USA, P.O. Box 36118, 
Baltimore, MD 21286-6118, info@multiblitzusa.com, http://www.multiblitzusa.com.

July 17th, 2012

Nielsen Photo Group Issues Statement on PIX Digital Magazine

On July 10 The Nielsen Photo Group, parent company of Photo District News, Rangefinder, and other publications and photography events, introduced a new, free digital magazine called PIX. A statement from The Nielsen Photo Group regarding the launch of PIX was sent out in PDNewswire, PDN‘s weekly newsletter, on July 12. Click here to read the full statement: http://tinyurl.com/pixmagazine

March 7th, 2012

Litepanels® Ships Croma Variable Color-Temperature LED Lighting Fixtures

Croma

Sponsored Post

Litepanels®, a Vitec Group brand, announces that the Croma on-camera LED lighting fixture, capable of generating variable color temperature illumination, is now shipping.

The Croma provides Litepanels hallmark soft light with the addition of variable color temperature output ranging from daylight (5600°K) to tungsten (3200°K). It is a versatile solution for run-and-gun news shooters, event videographers or still photographers who move rapidly from one light environment to the next, with no time to change lighting equipment or add gels. Delivering powerful performance in a small package, this self-contained light can be a secret weapon on any set or location, wherever an extra kick or soft fill is needed.

Croma provides infinite control of both color temperature and lighting intensity via two ergonomic on-fixture dials. One offers the ability to dim from 100% to zero with no noticeable color shift. The second lets the user dial-in the fill light to any point between daylight (5600°K) and tungsten (3200°K) to precisely match the ambient light.

The Croma draws just 9W, and provides the equivalent luminance output of 40W – 90W traditional fixtures. To power the fixture, the user has the choice of AA batteries or optional AC adapter. Six 1.5V AA batteries install within the Croma to provide power from 1.5 to 6 hours, depending on battery type.

The compact Croma weighs just 12 oz. (.4 kg) and measures 6” x 4” x 2” (54mm H x 36mm W x 102mm D).

“Our new Croma is an on-camera color-temperature versatile LED lighting fixture that can match the ambient light with a quick turn of a knob, making it the go to light for any environment,” said Chris Marchitelli, Litepanels VP of Global Marketing. “Videographers and DSLR shooters alike will wonder how they ever managed without it.”

For more information on Litepanels LED lighting, contact Litepanels, Inc. 16152 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406, Email: info@litepanels.com www.litepanels.com

February 21st, 2012

Cindy Sherman: Anticipating YouTube and Facebook Since 1975

"Untitled Film Still #21." (1978) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel © 2012 Cindy Sherman

The idea that identity is easily constructed and manipulated for the cameras may not seem ground-breaking, but Cindy Sherman has been at it for 35 years, long before the age of reality TV and Facebook. Since the start of her career, Sherman has had an uncanny ability to anticipate the cultural zeitgeist, and her influence permeates contemporary portraiture, where so much imagery is self-consciously constructed for the camera.

Her talent and influence are on spectacular display in a retrospective of her career at MoMA, beginning with what amounted to her eureka moment–a series of identity-bending self-portraits she made as a student in 1975–and progressing through her career to her 2008 series of society portraits. The exhibit adds up to more than the sum of its parts, underscoring Cindy Sherman’s influence and intent in ways that are not always obvious in her individual works.

Sherman is known for her ingenious and provocative creations of (mostly) female character types, all of which are photographs of the artist herself dressed in the different roles. That all of her images are self-portraits is at once beside the point and central to the meaning of the work: Throughout her career, Sherman has explored the malleability of identity and how, with a complicit photographer, identity can be invented and re-invented through dress, make-up, and props that trigger cultural cues and references so familiar to viewers. At first glance, the subjects look familiar and real.

Of course, Sherman is both model and photographer. She shoots without assistants, doing all of the make-up, hair styling, and prop styling herself. And the images aren’t of Sherman or her alter-egos. They’re meant as commentary on popular culture, expressed as a kind of performance art in front of the camera. (“One thing that I’ve always known is that the camera lies,” she said in a 1983 interview.)

Her Untitled Film Stills, for instance, comprise 70 8×10 black and white images that examine  the ideals of femininity and beauty perpetuated by Hollywood during the 50s and 60s. Inspired by the cheap publicity stills handed out by movie studios of that era, Sherman re-created scenes in which she starred as career girls, housewives, bombshells, and other female movie archetypes. Her 2008 society portraits, meanwhile, are a commentary on the tragic and vulgar affects of a certain cohort of aging woman of wealth, struggling to keep up with demands placed on them by a culture obsessed with youth, beauty, and status.

Sherman didn’t show up at the MoMA press preview on February 21. She is reportedly unassuming and genuinely nice in person, but generally press shy. She also prefers to avoid interpreting her work, leaving that to the viewer instead (all of her works are untitled for that reason).

But she explained in a 1987 interview,  “When I was in school I was getting disgusted with the attitude of art being so religious or sacred, so I wanted to make something that people could relate to without having to read a book about it beforehand. So that anybody off the street could appreciate it, even if they couldn’t fully understand it; they could still get something out of it. That’s the reason why I wanted to imitate something out of the culture, and also make fun of the culture as I was doing it.”

But Sherman’s intent is not simply to parody the character types she depicts; there is genuine empathy in the dark undercurrents of her imagery. It is also richly layered, complex and open to broad interpretation–attributes that make the work so enduring–without being opaque.

The Cindy Sherman exhibition at MoMA runs through June 11, 2012.

Related:
PDN Photo of the Day: Cindy Sherman

November 28th, 2011

Israel Apologizes to Lynsey Addario

Israel’s Defense Ministry has apologized to photojournalist Lynsey Addario after soldiers subjected her to a humiliating strip search at a Gaza Strip checkpoint several weeks ago, according to an Associated Press report. The search occurred after Addario, who is pregnant, was forced to pass three times through an X-ray machine, despite the concerns she expressed for her unborn baby.

Addario complained in a letter to the Defense Ministry that before arriving at the checkpoint, she had asked not to go through the machine because of her pregnancy. She said soldiers “watched and laughed from above” as she was forced through the machine, and that she had never been treated with “such blatant cruelty,” according to AP.

A Pulitzer-winning photojournalist who has worked in more than 60 countries, Addario has endured some rough treatment in the past. Last spring, she was groped by forces loyal to deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi after they captured her along with three other journalists working for The New York Times.

Addario was on assignment again for The New York Times when she was mistreated by Israeli soldiers at the Gaza checkpoint.

“We would like to apologize for this particular mishap,” the Defense Ministry said, explaining that security was tight on the Gaza border “to prevent terror from targeting and reaching Israel’s citizens.” The Ministry said that Addario’s request to avoid the X-ray machine had not been handled properly, according to the AP report.

August 9th, 2011

Newspaper Sues to Obtain Ernest Withers’ FBI File

The Memphis Commercial Appeal dropped a bombshell last fall when it reported that the renowned civil rights photographer Ernest Withers worked secretly as an FBI informant, helping the agency “gain a front-row seat to the civil right and anti-war movements in Memphis.”

Now the newspaper says it is suing the FBI for the release of Withers’ complete FBI informant file, in an effort to learn the full extent of his activities as an informant. The questions the paper is trying to answer: When did Withers begin working as an informant? And what information and photographs did he provide to the FBI?

According to the paper, the FBI has refused a Freedom of Information Act request to release Withers’ confidential informant file. So the Commercial Appeal has sued in US District Court in Washington, DC to force the FBI to release the file.

“Holding to decades-old doctrine protecting confidential sources,” the newspaper reported on August 7, “the government argues that exposing any informant, even a dead one, would have a chilling effect when recruiting new informants needed to help battle crime and protect national security.”

Lawyers for the newspaper are arguing that the FBI “is hiding behind laws designed to protect living informants”

Withers died in 2007 at the age of 85. He photographed the civil rights movement from the Emmett Till murder trial in 1955 through the assassination Martin Luther King in 1968 and amassed one of the largest archives an on African-American society, music and culture.

The Commercial Appeal came across Withers’ informant ID number by chance in a document related to a public corruption probe from 1970s that involved the photographer. At the time, Withers was a state employee and had been accused of taking payoffs, the newspaper said.

The FBI blacked out informant ID numbers before releasing the document, but apparently overlooked one number–that belonging to Withers.

“That number, in turn, unlocked the secret of the photographer’s 1960s political spying when the newspaper located repeated references to the number in other FBI reports released…30 years ago,” the paper explained in a story last fall.

A decision on the paper’s lawsuit to compel the FBI to release Withers’ file is pending.

May 19th, 2011

What Do News Organizations Owe to Fixers?

After a long silence, journalists are now talking about the inequality in care paid to photojournalists working in war zones, and the local fixers who help them in their work. The issue is now being addressed by the Poynter institute, the non-profit journalism education organization.

Reporting on the Poynter Web site, writer Steve Myers talks to photographers and editors about what protection, if any, they are authorized to offer local fixers if they are injured or threatened while on the job. Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists notes, “I’ve seen news organizations absolutely step up and support people—even people who have been contracted informally—and I’ve seen news orgs turn their back on people.”

One problem, Simon explains, is the variety of relationships between fixers and the organizations who hire them, “from the one-time assignment to the everyday job, from the driver hired by a full-time employee to one picked up by a freelancer.”

Photographer Lynsey Addario, who worked with two drivers who met bad ends—one, a driver in Afghanistan’s Swat valley who was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel, another who was very likely murdered when Addario and three New York Times colleagues were captured in Libya—argues that the Times has compensated locals when appropriate, but points out that not all hires are alike. “A blanket rule would presume that all situations abroad with local hires are black and white, and anyone who has worked overseas knows that that just isn’t the case.”

The New York Times has been criticized for its treatment of the three media assistants who have died while working for the Times since 2003. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, tells Myers that the paper has spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to repatriate media assistants who have been in danger in Iraq and elsewhere. “We have relocated local hires when their work put them at risk, paying all of their costs.” Keller adds that freelancers on assignment for the Times are placed on the newspaper’s insurance plan when they enter conflict zones; for locals, however, “we assume responsibility for death, disability and medical at our own expense.”

One interesting note: the Committee to Protect Journalists says that media companies can get specialized insurance for its fixers in conflict areas. The policies are expensive. Photojournalist Teru Kuwayama, who has been outspoken in his criticism of news organizations’ treatment of fixers, says taking out such policies on fixers would be a “massive step forward.”

The full article can be found at: Poynter.org.

Related stories:

Talking about the Deaths We Don’t Talk About

What to Expect if You’re Injured on Assignment

April 26th, 2011

Update: Exhibition Won’t Benefit Injured Photographers After All

An upcoming exhibition of photography from the uprisings in Tunisia, Cairo and Libya will not double as a fundraiser after all, organizers told PDN today.

We reported yesterday that Revolucion(es), a showcase of images shot in the last three months by independent photographers working in the Middle East had been turned into a fundraiser for photographers Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown. Both were seriously injured in Libya last week. But it seems neither photographer needs the fundraising assistance after all.

“The families told us their costs have been covered,” says Matt Craig, who organized the exhibition with fellow Wall Street Journal photo editor, Julien Jourdes.

The exhibition will still open as originally planned at the Instituto Cervantes in New York at 7 p.m. on Thursday.