June 20th, 2014

Danish Photojournalist Released in Syria after 13 Months in Captivity

Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish photojournalist who has been held captive in Syria for 13 months, was released yesterday and reunited with his family, Denmark’s Foreign Ministry reports. According to the Associated Press, a ministry spokesperson would not comment on reports that Ottosen had been kidnapped by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or answer questions about whether or not a ransom had been paid for his release.

Ottosen, a freelancer, had been photographing the effects of the ongoing civil conflict in the country when he went missing on May 17, 2013.

In March of this year, a Spanish photographer and a reporter were released after 194 in captivity. Other journalists, however, remain unaccounted for. James Foley, a contributor to Global Post, has been missing since November 2012. American Austin Tice has been missing since August 2012. Today, Tice’s mother posted on Twitter: “Today, we celebrate the release of Daniel Rye Ottosen. This good news brings us great joy and hope. All the best to him and his family.”

Syria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At the end of 2013, a dozen international news organizations signed a joint letter to the Syrian opposition and militias demanding action to curb the “disturbing rise in the kidnapping of journalists.”

Related articles:
Kidnapped, Beaten and Shot in Syria, Photographer and Writer Manage to Escape

Spanish Journalists Freed After 194 Days in Captivity in Syria

Freelance Photographer, Age 18, Killed in Syria

June 18th, 2014

NY Times Highlights Instagrammer Working For Met, Other Institutions, For Free

There was an article in the Art & Design section of the New York Times yesterday highlighting the social media photography that an Instagrammer, Dave Krugman, is doing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library and other cultural institutions in exchange for special access.

The article is full of language that suggests it’s Mr. Krugman’s great privilege to work for these institutions for free. “The Metropolitan Museum, for instance, allowed Mr. Krugman and his band of Instagram stars into its halls outside of normal business hours,” the author writes. She also quotes Krugman’s own post thanking the Met for the “opportunity.”

These are institutions with resources to pay for the social media communications work they do. Krugman isn’t a photographer by trade, he’s a retoucher, the article says. But he’s allowing these institutions to pay what the market will bear for this work: zero.

It would be interesting to know what the photographers and photo editors on the New York Times‘s staff think of this article devaluing the work of photographers.

“With his growing reputation, Mr. Krugman has begun thinking about charging money for his Instagram services,” the article concludes. Will these venerable and wealthy institutions pay, though, or will they just hire the next person with a big Instagram following who doesn’t know enough about the business of advertising and communications to charge for his or her work?

June 18th, 2014

Adobe Expands Monthly $9.99 Photoshop Cloud Plan to Include New Photoshop Mix iPad App

1_Adobe-2014-CC-ReleaseAdobe has offered photographers a $9.99 per month Photoshop Photography Program for a while now but the San Jose, CA-based company announced this morning it’s adding several new things to the mix.

Retitled the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, it’s aimed at “anyone interested in photography” and includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, and the brand new Photoshop Mix iPad app. The app offers some desktop Photoshop editing features for Apple’s tablet computer.

The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan also includes the Adobe Lightroom Mobile app, which debuted for the iPad in April and is now available for the iPhone, as well.

Adobe Photoshop Mix is designed to provide a wireless workflow with Creative Cloud, letting you access some of Photoshop CC’s tools on your iPad. Photoshop Mix lets you open Photoshop documents, access individual layers from a Photoshop PSD file, and grab images from Lightroom Mobile.

Once you have an image open in Photoshop Mix, you can access a range of Photoshop tools including Upright, Content Aware Fill, and Camera Shake Reduction.

Photoshop-Mix-1

You can then export your finished image with all its layers and masks intact from Mix to Photoshop CC for further tweaking on your desktop computer.

Read more about Adobe’s revamped photography subscription plan in the press release after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

June 18th, 2014

Suffolk County Pays $200K to Settle News Photographer’s Unlawful Arrest Claim

Frame grab from Philip Datz's recording of an enoucnter with a police officer that led to his arrest. The officer shown here repeatedly ordered Datz to "go away." When Datz questioned the order, the officer said, "There's nothing you can hold over my head."

Frame grab from Philip Datz’s recording of an encounter with a police officer that led to his arrest. The officer shown here repeatedly ordered Datz to “go away.” When Datz questioned the order, the officer said, “There’s nothing you can hold over my head.”

Suffolk County, New York  has agreed to pay freelance news videographer Philip Datz $200,000 to settle civil rights claims stemming from Datz’s unlawful arrest for recoding county police activity on a public street in 2011. In addition, the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) will institute an ongoing training program for its officers to safeguard “the constitutional right of the public and press to observe, photograph and record police activity in locations open to the public,” according to the settlement terms.

The settlement agreement was approved by the Suffolk Count legislature yesterday.

“This settlement is a victory for the First Amendment and for the public good,” Datz said in a prepared statement posted by NPPA, which helped Datz make his Civil Rights claim. “When police arrest journalists just for doing their job, it creates a chilling effect that jeopardizes everyone’s ability to stay informed about important news in their community.”

Datz, a freelancer, provides footage for local TV news broadcasts. He was shooting the scene of an arrest of a criminal suspect in Bohemia, New York on July 29, 2011 when a county police sergeant approached him and repeatedly ordered him to “go away.” Datz asked where he should stand to continue taping, but the police sergeant said “no place” and threatened to jail Datz if he didn’t leave the scene.

Datz moved down the street and continued recording, and was promptly arrested. Police confiscated his camera and videotape. According to his lawsuit, Datz suffered a shoulder injury during his arrest, and was handcuffed to a police station desk for two hours before police charged him with “obstructing governmental administration.”

Datz recorded the moments leading up to his arrest, during which a police officer confronted him and told him he was prohibited from filming the scene, even from a distance. The officer repeatedly told Datz to “go away” repeatedly. Datz moved a block away, and when he resumed recording, the officer sped up to him in a patrol car and placed him under arrest.

Datz posted the video on YouTube afterwards, and prosecutors ended up dismissing the charges against him in August, 2011. Datz then sued, claiming his arrest was unlawful and that police had violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Under the terms of the settlement, Suffolk County and the SCPD admitted no wrongdoing.

Related:
Police Intimidation Watch: Photog Sues a Long Island Police Department

NH Town to Pay $57K to Settle First Amendment Claim in Traffic Stop Video Case

PDN Video: A Photographer’s Guide to the First Amendment and Dealing with Police Intimidation

June 17th, 2014

What We’re Following on Instagram This Week

Here’s what the @pdnonline folks are checking out this week on Instagram.

© Cengiz Yar (@hfwh)

© Cengiz Yar (@hfwh)

Cengiz Yar, Jr @burndiary
Burn, the online magazine for emerging photographers founded by David Alan Harvey, has been using Instagram to post photo essays: one photographer sharing photos from somewhere in the world for seven days. This week: Cengiz Yar, Jr., (@hfwh) posting from Syria, mainly the Kurdish-controlled region, and from a refugee camp for Syrians in Lebanon.

 

© Patricia Lay Dorsey (@patricialaydorsey)

© Patricia Lay Dorsey (@patricialaydorsey)

@socphotogallery
Thanks to PDN’s 30 photographer Zun Lee (@zunleephoto), whose work we featured last week on PDN Photo of the Day and on the @pdnonline Instagram feed, for introducing us to this one. Social Photography is using Instagram as a virtual gallery and online forum in connection with its physical gallery exhibition this month at Indy India Art Gallery in Indianapolis. Social Photography is fostering a dialogue about how social media and the sharing of images is changing both photography and how we view our daily lives. In addition to Zun Lee, contributing photographers have included Samantha Box, Lauren Bohn and Patricia Lay Dorsey.

© Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri)

© Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri)

Daro Sulakauri for @opensocietyfoundations
Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri) is taking over the IG feed of Open Society Foundations, posting from Tchiatura, a manganese-mining town in the Republic of Georgia. The story is brutal, the images beautiful.

© Carl De Keyzer/Magnum Photos (@carldekeyzer of @magnumphotos)

© Carl De Keyzer/Magnum Photos (@carldekeyzer of @magnumphotos)

Carl De Keyzer for @newyorkerphoto
Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer (@carldekeyzer) is taking followers of the New Yorker Photo Booth to an exotic locale called his backyard. All week he’s posting from his home and garden. De Keyzer lives in a restored castle “somewhere between Ghent and Brussels in Belgium.” This proves, yet again, that you don’t have to venture too far to make great photos, especially if you live in a restored castle and have a garden with peacocks and geese and a big white dog.

June 17th, 2014

NH Town Pays $57K to Settle First Amendment Claim in Traffic Stop Video Case

The town of Weare, New Hampshire, has paid $57,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a citizen who was arrested in 2010 after attempting to videotape a traffic stop, according to a report by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The settlement came after a federal appeals court in Boston affirmed the constitutional rights of citizens to record police during traffic stops, subject to some “reasonable” restrictions.

Plaintiff Carla Gericke claimed in her lawsuit that her First Amendment rights were violated because police charged her with federal wiretapping violations in retaliation for recording them during the traffic stop.

Gericke was in her car, following a friend who was driving another car, when Weare police pulled her friend over in a late-night traffic stop on March 24, 2010. From a nearby parking lot, Gericke waited for her friend–and told the officer who had pulled her friend over that she was going to videotape the encounter. She pointed her camera, but unbeknownst to the police officer, it failed to record.

The officer ordered Gericke to return to her car, and she complied. When another officer arrived at the scene, he asked Gericke where her camera was, but she refused to tell him. She also refused his request to produce her license and registration. She was arrested and charged with disobeying a police officer, and with “unlawful interception of oral communications”–the wiretapping violation.

After prosecutors declined to press those charges against Gericke, she sued Weare police for violation of her First Amendment rights. Police asked the court to dismiss her claim on the grounds of qualified immunity, arguing there was no clearly established right to film a traffic stop.

The lower court declined to dismiss the case, ruling that because the facts of the the case were in dispute, a jury–and not the court–had to decide whether police were entitled to qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity provides government officials “with breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments,” according to court papers.

When the trial court declined to dismiss the case, police appealed.

The appeals court said police would be entitled to summary judgment if Gericke had not been exercising her First Amendment rights at the time of her arrest OR if a reasonable police officer could have concluded that she was not exercising those rights.

In determining that Gericke was exercising her First Amendment rights, The appeals court cited its own 2011 ruling in the case of Simon Glik v. Cunniffee, holding that “the Constitution protects the right of individuals to videotape police officers performing their duties in public.”

“Those First Amendment principles apply equally to the filming of a traffic stop and the filming of an arrest in a public park,” the court said.

Glik had been filming police officers making an arrest in a public park in Boston when he was arrested. He won a $170,000 settlement from the City of Boston in 2012 for violation of his Civil Rights.

In considering whether a reasonable police officer could have concluded that Gericke was not exercising her First Amendment rights, the appeals court noted that “Reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right to film may be imposed when the circumstances justify them.”

Because traffic stops can be particularly dangerous to police, restrictions might be justified in some instances.  “Reasonable orders to maintain safety and control, which have incidental effects on an individual’s exercise of the First Amendment right to record, may be permissible,” the court said.

But according to Gericke’s version of events, the court found, “no such restriction was imposed or in place” because police hadn’t ordered her to leave the scene, or told her to stop recording.

“Thus, under Gericke’s version of the facts, any reasonable officer would have understood that charging Gericke with illegal wiretapping for attempted filming that had not been limited by any order or law violated her First Amendment right to film,” the appeals court said. (The court accepted Gericke’s version of the facts only for the purposes of deciding whether the case should be dismissed without a trial).

Moreover, the appeals court said, “A jury could supportably find that the officers violated her First Amendment right by filing the wiretapping charge against her because of her attempted filming of [the officer] during the traffic stop.”

Although police still had the option to appeal to the US Supreme Court or argue their case for qualified immunity before a jury, the town of Weare decided to settle the case. It was settled without any admission of wrongdoing on the part of police, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Related:
Police Intimidation Watch: Boston to Pay $170,000 for Wrongful Arrest of Videographer
PDN Video: A Photographer’s Guide to the First Amendment and Dealing with Police Intimidation

June 12th, 2014

Todd Hido Shoots Fall 2014 Campaign For Victoria Beckham’s Fashion Line

An image from Todd Hido's campaign for Victoria, Victoria Beckham's Fall 2014 collection.

An image from Todd Hido’s campaign for Victoria, Victoria Beckham’s Fall 2014 collection.

We never thought we’d mention Posh Spice and Todd Hido in the same sentence, but here goes: Victoria Beckham (previously known as pop singer Posh Spice) enlisted fine-art photographer Todd Hido to photograph ads her Fall 2014 collection of women’s fashion.

The images of models wearing Beckham’s looks recall Hido’s fine-art photographs of women in motel rooms who appear to be living on society’s fringes. In images on the fashion designer’s website we see models posed on bare mattresses or in rooms with shabby carpeting and unmade beds. Hido’s work for the label also appears to include video pieces. In one video we see a model standing against a wall in a dark room while fuzz flashes across the screen of an old-model television set.

Hido didn’t respond to our request for comment. According to W Magazine, Beckham herself said that, “Working with a photographer who doesn’t traditionally shoot fashion really enriched how I could portray the collection this season.”

Related: The Prevailing Wind: Todd Hido’s Excerpts from Silver Meadows

June 9th, 2014

Obituary: Roger Mayne, Documentarian of London’s Post-War Working Class

"Southam Street, 1956" © Roger Mayne/Courtesy Quaritch

“Southam Street, 1956″ © Roger Mayne/Courtesy Quaritch

Roger Mayne, whose images of working class neighborhoods in London in the late 1950s established his reputation as an important post-war British photographer, died June 7th at the age of 85, according to a statement from Gitterman Gallery. The cause of death was a heart attack, the gallery says.

Mayne began photographing working class youth and neighborhoods of West London in 1956, two years after moving to the city to become a photographer. “For Mayne, even the empty streets and dilapidated buildings had ‘a kind of decaying splendor,’” says Gitterman. Mayne spent five years on the project, and his work captured the spirit of an era before London’s run-down neighborhoods were razed and modernized, destroying many of the working class communities in the process.

He was particularly interested in the lively youth culture–”teddy boys, jiving girl, and kids playing in the streets,” according to his Gitterman. “By 1959 Mayne’s images were so indicative of this period that Vogue used them to illustrate teenage styles.”

His work was recognized early by various photographic societies and institutions. In 1956, he had solo exhibitions at the George Eastman House in Rochester, and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. During the late 1950s, his work appeared in a number of group shows. The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago also acquired prints of his work.

Mayne went on to a successful career as a freelance photographer, working for various magazines and newspapers. A solo exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum in 1986 renewed interest in his work, according to Gitterman. His work has since appeared in several exhibitions, including shows at the Tate Britain in 2004 and 2007. He had a solo last year in Bath, England at Victoria Gallery.

Mayne is survived by his wife, Ann Jellicoe, as well as by a daughter, a son, and their families.

June 8th, 2014

Fake Chuck Westfall Unmasked!: Photographer Behind Controversial Canon Blog Reveals Why He’s Calling It Quits

chuck_westfall

The real Chuck Westfall, a Technical Advisor at Canon USA for pro imaging products

If you follow the photo industry and, in particular, the world of Canon photography products, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Fake Chuck Westfall blog.

A direct descendent of the Fake Steve Jobs persona that humorously parodied Apple’s leading luminary on The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog, Fake Chuck Westfall has been spoofing Canon’s main camera guru and the photo industry in general since 2008.

Fake Steve Jobs turned out to be writer Dan Lyons but Fake Chuck Westfall has remained anonymous…until now.

After tweeting on the FCW Twitter account last week that he was planning to pull the plug on Fake Chuck Westfall, the man behind the controversial blog agreed to be interviewed by PDN to explain who he is, why he created FCW, and why he’s putting an end to it. (And no, it’s not because Canon is threatening legal action, as it did back in 2009, which turned Fake Chuck Westfall into a photo industry Internet celebrity and caused the blog’s traffic to skyrocket.)

So, without further ado, meet photographer Karel Donk, aka Fake Chuck Westfall. Donk will give a more in depth account of the entire Fake Chuck Westfall saga in a post on his blog on Monday morning. (UPDATE: Here’s Donk’s FCW farewell post.)

Read the rest of this entry »

June 6th, 2014

PDN Video Pick: Making Beautiful, Dramatic Video Portraits

At several Washington, DC schools, kids are interacting with infants as part of an innovative anti-bullying program, and Washington Post multimedia producer Brad Horn recently visited Maury Elementary school to shoot a story about it. Instead of approaching it as “a standard news story” with bright TV lighting and talking head administrators, Horn combined intimate interviews of kids talking about their own experiences with bullying and rich, out-of-the-ordinary video portraits.

Horn, whose work and advice we featured in our article “Create Smooth Video Tracking Shots on the Fly (And On a Budget),” talked to PDN about some of the lighting and tracking techniques he used to create the Maury School video.

PDN: How did you do the tracking shots?
BH: I used a [Kessler] Pocket Jib.

PDN: Did you operate it yourself?
BH: As a one-man band, I did. But they’re big and heavy. You have to be really strong and kind of crazy to do this by yourself. It took all my strength to move the jib around the school once I got it set up.  I had to carry everything up three flights of stairs. Then there was set-up time, and I had no idea how to use it. I was having to watch YouTube videos right there in the classroom to figure it out.

PDN: You’d never used a jib? Why did you suddenly decide to use it for this job?
BH: I like to spice things up. I love portraiture. if I want to marry portraiture and video portraiture–video portraits can be kind of static. After a while, you want to try something new. A lot of people use sliders, but they’re getting to be cliche–maybe not cliche, but they’re so common. I wanted to try something a little different, something cutting edge, and get people to notice.

PDN: What tips do you have for making good video portraits?
BH: You want to get far away with a long lens, to shorten depth of field and blow out the background. Also, pull the subject away from the background. Lighting is key, though. A lot of people are trained to do TV-style lighting: three lights, with even light across the face. It makes people too brightly lit, and it’s not cinematic, so I like to do Rembrandt-style lighting.

One of Brad Horn's video portrait set-ups at Maury Elementary school.

One of Brad Horn’s video portrait set-ups at Maury Elementary school. Photo by Carolyne Albert-Garvey

 

PDN: How do you achieve that?
BH: I use a Lowel Rifa-Lite eX88, which is pretty big. It’s a softbox. Then I have an egg crate that goes over [the] top of it [to control light spill]. I just use one light, and light subjects from the side, so there’s a  dramatic fall-off of light across the subject’s face. One side is noticeably darker.

PDN: The light and color have a rich, dark quality throughout the video in general. How did you get that?
BH: Mostly with the softbox. What took me probably too long to realize was not to mix daylight and tungsten. The tungsten lights are very warm. The trick is to use daylight-balanced bulbs. Then I mess around a lot with saturation: desaturating the dark colors, and saturating the light colors. I also increase the contrast. I’ll mess around with color balance as well. A lot of people tend to warm things up, but sometimes I make things cooler. So [the look] is the interplay of a lot of things.

PDN: Were there any other challenges to making this video that aren’t obvious from watching it?
BH: There was a whole sausage factory aspect to it. Bringing the Pocket Jib into the classroom, bringing a boy into a bathroom to film him. I had to explain a lot–that boy was bullied in the bathroom. The setting was important– but they’re still like, “You’re a grown man, bringing a kid into a bathroom.” When you have a strong vision, you’re going to get raised eyebrows. You just have to fight through it, and get to the heart of the story–in this case, the pain of being a kid.

Related article:
Frames Per Second: Create Smooth Video and Tracking Shots on the Fly (and On a Budget)