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February 23rd, 2015

Ed Kashi, Tim Matsui Win Top Multimedia Prizes at 2015 POYi

From "Syria's Lost Generation," by 2015 POYi Multimedia Photographer of the Year Ed Kashi. ©Ed Kashi

From “Syria’s Lost Generation,” by 2015 POYi Multimedia Photographer of the Year Ed Kashi. ©Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi has won Multimedia Photographer of the Year honors at the 2015 Pictures of the Year International competition for his project called Syria’s Lost Generation, while Tim Matsui won Documentary Project of the Year for The Long Night, a film he produced with MediaStorm about teenage prostitution.

Winners of other categories in POYi’s Visual Editing Division included Katie Falkenberg of the Los Angeles Times, who won first place in the Motion News Story category for a story about a Utah town torn apart by an FBI sting operation; Eugene Richards, winner of the Motion Feature Story prize for his project in the Arkansas delta called Red Ball of Sun Slipping Down; and Lisa Krantz and Jessica Belasco of the San Antonio Express-News, first place winners of the Motion Issue Reporting category for “A Life Apart: The Toll of Obesity.”

Earlier this month, during judging for POYi’s Reportage Division, Krantz won the 2015 Community Awareness Award for the obesity project.

Judging for the Visual Editing Division ended Friday. The category included a number of editing awards for magazines and newspapers.  National Geographic magazine took Best Publication honors. The Los Angeles Times won first place for Editing Portfolio-Newspaper, while Time magazine won the top prize for Editing Portfolio-Magazine.

A complete list of the 72nd annual POYi contest winners is available online. Links to galleries of the winning entries are also on the site.

Related:

Daniel Berehulak Wins Reportage Photographer of the Year at 2015 POYi Competition
Brad Vest Named Newspaper Photographer of the Year at 2015 POYi Competition
Cameron Spencer Wins POYi Sports Photographer of the Year Honors
PDN Video Pick: A Spotlight on Underage Victims of the Illegal Sex Trade

February 9th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Office Scene (“Today, I’m going to let them touch me”)

Photographer Endia Beal’s video “Office Scene” demonstrates how it is possible to make strong, compelling video with almost nothing, if you’re smart about it.

The video is a foray into the discomfort zone of inter-office race and personal relations. Beal, who is African American, heard rumors around a corporate office she worked in that several of her white male colleagues were fascinated by her hair. So she decided to let them touch it–on the conditions that they really dig their hands in, and agree to talk on tape afterwards about how the experience felt to them. Amazingly enough, they agreed. “I transform into a voyeuristic actress fulfilling the desires of my male colleagues,” Beal explains. She uses just two video shots to tell the story. By focusing her camera on the banal and stripping the visuals down to a minimum, she’s able to use the audio to maximum effect, leaving much to the imagination of the viewer.

Beal projected this video, along with her more recent (and equally compelling) “9 to 5″ video, at the National Geographic Photography Seminar last month in Washington, DC.

She explained at that seminar that her work is intended to push conversation about the experience of women of color in corporate America, particularly about issues that people are afraid to talk about. Beal credited Tod Papageorge with pushing her to use photography to explore her own experiences while she was enrolled in the MFA photography program at Yale.

“I said, ‘[Those experiences are] so intimate and personal to me,’” she recounted. “He said, ‘Those are the stories that need to be told.’ So I took the risk. I had no idea that something so personal and private could be universally translated, that other people could understand, that a minority woman could speak to the universal.

“The history of photography for minority women is still being written,” she continued. “I think about Deborah Willis, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Deana Lawson, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson–all these wonderful women. But our book is really short. If I can add a couple of photographs to that narrative, then I’ve done my job.”

Related:
Look3: Carrie Mae Weems on Race, Sexuality, History and Finding Meaningful Work

February 5th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Vincent Morisset’s Interactive “Way to Go”

Promotional still from "Way to Go"

Promotional still from “Way to Go”

When you travel from point A to point B, what do you see? How does the experience change when the route becomes familiar? These are questions asked in “Way to Go,” a new interactive video project funded by the National Film Board of Canada and premiered at the recent Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program.

Part film, part game, “Way To Go” takes players through a 3D environment with a 2D character, following a predetermined path through an immersive, interactive environment. Players control a blockheaded animated figure, deciding whether to walk, run, stop, jump, fly, or investigate elements in the environment recorded on video.

“I’m really interested in the notion of space and time,” says Vincent Morisset, the project’s director, “and how we relate to our environment in real life, and if there was a way to transport or put into perspective this really universal premise of going from point A to point B.”

The visuals—art directed by Caroline Robert—are a striking mix of video footage, hand-drawn animation and live GL effects. Morisset captured the live video with a DIY pole-mounted 360-degree camera rig comprised of six GoPro cameras. He’s visible in the game as the black figure holding a pole that follows the main character everywhere through the interactive universe.

“In 2015 it’s less and less easy to get lost, we’re constantly knowing where we are,” Morisset says. “There’s something to the line and the path that resonates with how we deal with our environment.” As the character is confined to traversing the universe along a pre-determined path, the exploration is in the changing perspective—what do you run past, what do you stop and investigate?

The NFB previewed the project at a virtual reality at Sundance’s New Frontier utilizing the Oculus Rift VR headset. While the game is playable on any computer with a Web browser, the Oculus experience took full advantage of the 360-degree camera footage to provide a truly immersive experience.

Sounds are synced to the movements of the character. Composer Phillipe Lambert designed a Euclidean rhythm console so that the complex rhythms interweave seamlessly with the pace and movements of the character.

Lambert, Robert and Morisset, along with Édouard Lanctôt (a developer and technical director), make up AATOAA, Morisset’s Montreal-based digital studio. Their commercial clients include Red Bull and Google, and they’ve produced an interactive video for Arcade Fire’s “Just a Reflektor.” “Way to Go” is the team’s second personal project; their first, “BLA BLA,” was an interactive short film exploring human communication.

To experience “Way to Go” yourself, visit a-way-to-go.com. For more on the interactive projects produced with support from the National Film Board of Canada, visit: www.nfb.ca/interactive.

Promotional still from "Way to Go"

Promotional still from “Way to Go”

January 28th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Acclaimed Beijing Portrait Project, Expanded with Video

With support from two clients and a creative approach to funding, photographer Sim Chi Yin has just released this video showing an old project from a new, more immersive angle. The video profiles Zhang Xi, a college graduate turned street peddler who is part of Beijing’s “Rat Tribe,” so named because they live in sub-standard apartments in the basements and former bomb shelters of the city.

Sim’s portraits of “Rat Tribe” basement dwellers, which she began making in 2010, have been widely published–and widely acclaimed. She previously produced a multimedia slideshow of the portraits. But this video expands on her earlier work by exploring how one subject ended up living in a Beijing basement, the tension it has caused with his parents, and what day-to-day life is like for him.

The video, published January 24 by Creative Time Reports (CTR) and Al Jazeera America, is also a case study in multi-source production funding. Sim says it was first “leanly funded” by CTR, a media website that commissioned the video last fall for a European conference on migration issues. For additional funding, Sim applied to the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Around the same time, Al Jazeera America asked Sim for new portraits of Beijing basement dwellers, and an updated multimedia piece. So she put CTR and Al Jazeera in touch with each other, and “they decided to work together and timed their publications to appear on the same day.”

Sim hired producer Yin Jiawei, a recent college graduate, to work as a fixer and assist with the shooting.  The video was edited by Jian Yi, a freelance Chinese filmmaker.

Related:
Picture Story: Beijing’s Basement Dwellers
PDN’s 30 2013: Sim Chi Yin

January 12th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Ed Kashi and Matt Black for The New Yorker

For PDN’s January 2015 print edition, we spoke with photographer Matt Black about the photo essay he made for The New Yorker about the drought in California’s Central Valley. Black, who lives in Exeter, California, has been documenting the valley—which produces much of the country’s food—for more than 15 years.

But the story in The New Yorker was assigned before Black ever got involved; months earlier, photographer Ed Kashi had successfully pitched a story on the drought to Whitney Johnson, the magazine’s director of photography. When it came time to shoot the story, however, Kashi realized that Black—his former assistant—was not just embedded, but invested, in the valley, and would be a perfect collaborator.

“I was thinking, I’ll never, in the week or so I have of field time, produce the body of still work that this man has produced over 15 years,” Kashi says. “So why try to reinvent the wheel?”

Kashi proposed that he would shoot motion, and Black would shoot stills, and Johnson was quickly on board. Sky Dylan-Robbins, a video producer at The New Yorker, would edit their work into the 7-minute video that ran on newyorker.com.

“It was fun,” Kashi admits. “We were like two little kids in a way, photo buddies who were just looking for visuals and trying to figure out how to put the narrative together without getting bogged down in the weeds of the issue. Because the issue of water in California is insanely complicated.”

Related:

Matt Black on Dorothea Lange

Matt Black and Ed Kashi Bring California’s Dried-Out Central Valley to The New Yorker

NewYorker.com: The Dry Land

January 9th, 2015

National Geographic’s Photo Engineering at Work

Striving for new and unusual ways to photograph subjects from land, sea, and air, National Geographic photographers often turn for technical assistance to NG photo engineers Kenji Yamaguchi and David Mathews. The two men, who are the subjects of an article in January PDN and now on PDN online, devise ingenious tools for making pictures that would otherwise be too dangerous or difficult for photographers to make. ““These guys are the unsung heroes of the Geographic,” says long-time contributor George Steinmetz.

Yamaguchi and Mathews worked behind the scenes on Nick Nichols’s Serengeti lions project, Steve Winter’s snow leopards project, and various projects by underwater photographer David Doubilet, to name just a few examples. Here are some videos that show their technical ingenuity in action:

 


Nick Nichols and his assistant, Nathan Williamson, at work on the Serengeti lions project with a robotic camera tank and a camera drone.

 


Steve Winter explains how he used camera traps to photograph a mountain lion at night under the Hollywood sign.

 


The Photo Engineering department faces possible budget cuts, but National Geographic recently profiled of Kenji Yamaguchi, with this video showing him at work in the publisher’s Photo Engineering lab.

 

Addition videos on National Geographic’s web site:

Steve Winter describes his 2008 snow leopard project in northern India. Scenes of Winter setting up remote cameras and strobes on snow leopard trails start at 2:47.

An encounter, narrated by Steve Winter, between a tiger and a robotic camera vehicle developed by NG Photo Engineering.

Scenes from the sinking of a ship for the creation of an artificial reef, featuring David Doubilet’s remote camera images from the ship’s deck as engineers set explosive charges, then detonated them. Remote camera images begin at 1:21.

Related Article:
The Technical Ingenuity of National Geographic’s Photo Engineering Department

January 8th, 2015

Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 in the Wild

The January issue of PDN features a review of the Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 medium format camera system.

You can get a sneak peek in this video starring our frequent co-tester, David Patiño, who used the Credo 50 in a marathon product catalog shoot late last year (among other things). Enjoy!

Special thanks to Generic Brand Human for producing the video.

November 21st, 2014

PDN Video Pick: Pitchfork’s Interactive Mini-Site for the 2014 Basilica Soundscape Festival

Basilica Soundscape

Pitchfork, the influential music website that has grown to include a quarterly print magazine and three art and music festivals, has launched a new mini-site to showcase videos made during September’s Basilica Soundscape Festival. The custom site, which lives at basilica.pitchfork.com, features videos of 12 artists performing at the third iteration of the annual festival, held on September 12 & 13, 2014, in Hudson, NY. Each video is a performance from the festival interspersed with meditative footage shot in the idyllic town and countryside surrounding the festival venue.

The Basilica mini-site was designed and developed by William Colby, who co-directed the videos with Jim Larson. Both are part of the in-house video team at Pitchfork.

Pitchfork has been at the vanguard of creating innovative displays of photos and videos on the Internet, as we highlighted in our feature (subscription required) on the site’s “cover stories” in late 2013.

On the Basilica site, it’s possible to watch every video without a single click, thanks to the site’s minimal design: There’s a small navigation menu at the top right of the page, but visitors can scroll down through each auto-playing video. The performances run the gamut from modern metal like White Lung and Deafheaven, to a string quartet led by the Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, and a deliciously funny reading of an essay on the gender politics of authenticity by Meredith Graves, of the hardcore band Perfect Pussy.

The mini-site is visually compelling, and is yet another example of Pitchfork’s commitment to experiment with new ways to deliver images to its readers.

 

 

November 20th, 2014

Gear Roundup: Must-rent Equipment from CSI Rentals

Sponsored by CSI Rentals

For many photographers and videographers, few things in life are more precious than gear. As the page turns on 2015, visual storytellers have a surplus of technological riches available to them, and at equipment rental hotspots like CSI Rentals in New York City, it’s easy to keep up with changing technology and trends. CSI makes the process even easier with perks like a mobile website to reserve gear, and nationwide shipping for shoots that take you outside of the city. Here are a few products to keep on your radar for your next project.

1) Canon Cinema C100 with Dual Pixel AF Sensor
Canon C100
CSI Rentals offers many different cinema cameras and packages. Among them is the new, upgraded Canon C100 with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. The EOS C100 offers an autofocus mode to help ensure sharp focus and smooth focus transitions. The upgrade provides a new Continuous AF (Autofocus) function for all autofocus lenses, using Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology.
CSI Rentals daily / weekend rate: $195

2) Canon 7D Mark II

canon 7d mark ii
CSI Rentals also now rents the latest Canon 7D Mark II, the first EOS DSLR to run dual DIGIC 6 processors, a one-two computational punch that powers a 10 frames per second (fps) burst mode. Canon bumped up the buffer to accommodate up to 31 RAW images or 1,900 JPEGs, vastly surpassing the original 7D’s 130-JPEG buffer. The 7D Mark II also employs a new 65 cross-type AF system for better low light focusing as well as an improved version of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF found in the C100 above.

The 20-megapixel 7D Mark II uses a newly developed APS-C-sized sensor with a native ISO range of 100 to 16,000 for stills and video. The camera records 1920 x 1080/60p HD and features a 3-inch display or a viewfinder with a 100-percent field of view that can overlay data such as an electronic level display or a grid. Built-in GPS is also on hand for geo-tagging images. The 7D Mark II’s magnesium alloy body offers four times the moisture and dust resistance of the original 7D so inclement weather shouldn’t be an obstacle to your shoot.
CSI Rentals Daily/weekend rental rate: $60

 

3) DJI Ronin Handheld Gimbal
DJI_RONIN
CSI Rentals has a full line of camera rigs, sliders, and stabilizers, and has recently added the new DJI Ronin handheld gimbal to its lineup. Famous for its drones, DJI has its own brushless gimbal based around the company’s 3-axis stabilized Zenmuse technology—the same found on its flying machines—for run-and-gun filmmaking. The Ronin will support a wide range of camera bodies—from Micro Four Thirds cameras like Panasonic’s GH4 to cinema cams like the RED Scarlet. A tool-less balance adjustment system simplifies your set-up and DJI promises you’ll be up and shooting (and running) in five minutes. A SmoothTrack Control features gives a single camera operator the ability to turn rapid tilting and panning into smooth, stabilized movements. The included remote control lets a second operator wirelessly pan and tilt the Ronin while the first operator physically moves the device to compose a shot. An Upright Mode lets you flip the gimbal over so you can bring the camera closer to eye level.
CSI Rentals Daily / Weekend rental rate: $225

 

4) Blackmagic Design URSA
Blackmagic-URSA-PL-Camera
Designed to be operated by either large crews or a single operator, the URSA sports a pair of 5-inch touch screen displays on both sides for control over audio and other camera settings. There’s a huge 10-inch flip-out LCD for framing your scene or navigating through the camera’s menu. The guts of the URSA are composed of a Super 35mm-sized, 4K image sensor that supports frame rates up to 60p and 12 stops of dynamic range. It also boasts a global shutter. BlackMagic’s pitch with the URSA is its future-proofing. The sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed so sensors can be field-upgradeable and you can mount either EF or PL lenses to the camera body to suit your needs. You can record either ProRes or Ultra HD 12-bit lossless Cinema DNG RAW to a pair of hot-swappable CFast cards.
CSI Rentals Day / Weekend Rental Daily rate: $350

 

5) iKan iLED 312
ikan led 312
There are plenty of new lights to illuminate your production. Among the newcomers that caught our eye is the iKan iLED 312. This on-camera LED delivers a wide-angle 60-degree beam for consistent lighting with a variable color temperature between 3200 tungsten and 5600K daylight. A dimmer can adjust light intensity from 10 to 100 percent and a built-in LCD display gives you a read out on all of the light’s vitals: brightness level, color temperature and remaining battery life.
CSI Rentals Daily/ Weekend rate: $35

 

6) Profoto B1
profoto-b1-feat2
Another lighting must-rent is Profoto’s B1 500. This battery-powered monolight lets you cut the cord so your flash can always be with you. Compatible with the full range of Profoto light modifiers, the B1 offers TTL metering for Canon and Nikon cameras with the company’s Air Remote. At 500 Watts, it’s about 10x more powerful than speedlights for when freezing action and getting studio results outdoors is a must.
CSI Rentals Daily / Weekend rate: $50

If you’re in the New York City area, you can stop by CSI Rental locations in Manhattan or Brooklyn to speak with a rental expert onsite. It’s one thing to watch a YouTube tutorial, quite another to speak with an expert in the flesh with the technology in hand.  Visit www.csirentals.com to see their locations, inventory and rates, and check out their app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

November 12th, 2014

Forest Service Chief Says Journalists Don’t Need Permits to Photograph in National Forests

When the United States Forest Service released a vaguely worded directive that suggested journalists would have to pay up to $1500 for a permit to photograph or film in national forests, photographers and first amendment activists were alarmed. The controversial directive, issued as a draft in September, was first reported by The Oregonian newspaper.

Following the outcry, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell has clarified the USFS’s position with regard to photography and film for journalistic purposes, rather than commercial use. In a letter written to Forest Service officials, sent on November 4, he said the clarification was needed because “considerable response” from the public “raised significant concerns beyond the intended scope of the directive.”

“News coverage on NFS lands is protected by the Constitution, and it is our responsibility to safeguard this right on the lands we manage for all Americans,” Tidwell wrote.

He outlined how USFS officials should differentiate between journalism and other activities: “The following question should be asked: Is the primary purpose of the filming activity to inform the public, or is it to sell a product for a profit? If the primary purpose is to inform the public, then no permit is required and no fees assessed.”

Tidwell clarified USFS’s position with regard to commercial film and photography. “Permit fees should be primarily viewed as land-use fees. If the activity presents no more impact on the land than that of the general public, then it shall be exempt from permit requirements.”

Read the full text of Tidwell’s letter here.

Via The Oregonian.