March 6th, 2014

Getty’s Free Image Program: New Revenue Model, or a Surrender to Copyright Infringement?

Getty Images lit up the Twittersphere today with an announcement that it was making its archive available free of charge for bloggers and other non-commercial users. Some of the big questions are: What is Getty gaining by making images free to the public? How does Getty’s decision affect not only its own contributors, but all photographers? And are there any hidden costs to non-commercial users who take advantage of Getty’s free images?

Getty said in its announcement that it was releasing a new embed tool to make it easy for non-commercial users to share its images on websites, blogs and social media channels.

Getty CEO Jonathan Klein says in the announcement that the “easy, legal sharing…benefits our content contributors and partners.”

One benefit to the company and its partners is that by automatically crediting the images and linking them back to Getty’s website, the embed tool makes it easy to find and license the images for commercial use.

At the same time, the embed tool will also makes it easier for Getty to track non-commercial uses of its images, and the users who take advantage of the company’s offer of free images.

To read what Getty’s terms of service allow it to do with users’ information, and more on the implications of this new business for the perceived value of all images, see our news story, now on PDNOnline.

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March 5th, 2014

New Pro Cameras and Lighting Gear Debut at WPPI Show in Las Vegas

Nikon-D4S-1I’ve been pounding the WPPI show floor in Las Vegas this week for our sister publication, Rangefinder magazine, covering what’s new in the world of photography gear. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights from WPPI, which saw quite a few new pro cameras debut in the U.S. at the show.

Follow the links for the full posts on Rangefinder’s blog, Photoforward.

Read the rest of this entry »

March 5th, 2014

Scotiabank Announces 2014 Finalists for $50K Photography Prize

Rodney Graham, Mark Ruwedel, and Donald Weber have been named finalists for the 2014 Scotiabank Photography Award, the sponsor announced yesterday. The winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced April 29 in Toronto.

The award was established four years ago to honor the work of contemporary Canadian photographers. The 2014  nominees “have unique and distinctive bodies of work that show true excellence in Canadian contemporary photography,” says photographer Edward Burtynsky, chairperson of the award jury.

Graham, a conceptual artist, has created a varied body of work the comprises photography and media art installations that incorporate film, painting, literature, and music.

Ruwedel is a landscape photographer, working in both black and white and color. His latest book, called “Pictures of Hell” will be released this fall.

Weber, a documentary photographer, is “devoted to the study of how power deploys an all-compassing theatre for its subjects,” according to the Scotiabank announcement.

Nominations came from curators, photographers, artists, gallery directors, art critics, and academics from across Canada.  The finalists were selected by a three-member jury including Robert Bean, an artist, writer and photography professor; Catherine Bédard, art historian and Deputy-Director of the Canadian Cultural Centre; and  Ann Thomas, Curator, Photographs Collection, National Gallery of Canada.

In addition to the $50,000 cash prize, the winner of this year’s award will have a book of his work published by Steidl, and an exhibition at Ryerson Image Centre, Ryerson University, in Toronto.

Related:
State Power: Donald Weber’s Interrogations
PDN’s 30 2008: Donald Weber (subscription required)

March 4th, 2014

Trunk Archive Acquires North American Licensing Rights for Magnum Photos

Image licensing company Trunk Archive announced today that it has acquired North American licensing rights to the image library of Magnum Photos.

Statements from both Magnum and Trunk focused on the possibilities for Trunk to do a better job generating revenue from the archive than Magnum has.

In a statement, Magnum CEO Giorgio Psacharopulo said the agency is “confident that this partnership will allow Magnum’s iconic imagery to reach a new audience of creative professionals. There exist many hidden gems within the Magnum collection and we anticipate that these will be rediscovered through our association with Trunk Archive.”

Trunk Archive CEO Matthew Moneypenny said his company is “proud to be representing this prestigious collection and very excited to find new licensing opportunities for these exceptional images.”

The news comes just a few days after Trunk announced its acquisition of rep firm Bernstein & Andriulli, and Gallery Stock, its sister company.

Trunk Archive represents more than 250 photographers around the world for secondary image sales. Founded seven years ago by Moneypenny, a former Art + Commerce image licensing agent, it has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Sidney, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

Related: Trunk Archive Buys Bernstein & Andriulli, Gallery Stock
(Re)Sales Opportunities: A variety of creative licensing opportunities exist for photographers interested in capitalizing on their existing imagery. (subscription required)

February 28th, 2014

Facebook’s Teru Kuwayama on How To Use Social Media for Documentary Storytelling

Long before he went to work for Facebook as the social media giant’s liaison to the photo community, photographer Teru Kuwuyama saw social media as a tool for photographers “to eliminate the gatekeepers and the editors, and to be our own operators,” he told a standing-room-only crowd at the Aperture Gallery in New York on Tuesday.  Old media models formed in “an analogue era” no longer exist, but he said many photographers who have been “adaptable” to social platforms are using them to reach and engage audiences.

Kuwayama spoke along with Lev Manovich of the Software Studies Initiative at “Documentary, Expanded: Interventions in Social Media,” a panel moderated by photographer Susan Meiselas, executive director and board member of the Magnum Foundation, which organized the talk as part of its Photography, Expanded program. Photography, Expanded held its first conference, in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project, in April 2013, Meiselas said, to encourage photographers to expand their storytelling beyond the still image at a time when “we all felt the ground shifting beneath our feet” due to a shortage of assignments and production budgets from traditional media. Kuwayama shared work by photographers who are using Instagram to connect with audiences — though not, in most cases, to make money with their images.

He began by showing his own social-media-based project, Basetrack. After having worked in Afghanistan as an embedded photojournalist, Kuwayama won a James S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford, where he came up with a plan to gather a small group of embedded photographers who would post images and information about a Marine battalion in Afghanistan for their families back home. Launched in 2010, Basetrack was “basically a tricked out blog,” he said, with a map and a countdown clock to the end of the Marines’ deployment, but equally important was the Basetrack Facebook page, which “became a rallying point for the community.” Basetrack was never intended to reach more than about 1,000 viewers. “Who cares about this 20-year-old Marine who was 8 when this war started? It was clear it was his mom, his sister,” Kuwayama explained.
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February 27th, 2014

Sponsored Post: A Look at the Qualities of Light

The understanding of light is the most fundamental skill in cinematography. Watch and learn about the two basic types of light used in filmmaking and photography; hard and soft. Let’s break down these concepts and show you how to harness their power to improve your lighting.

 

Film Lighting Tutorial: Qualities of Light from Zacuto on Vimeo.

 

Hard light is a direct, often single, light source that hits its subject at a specific angle. The sun is a hard light, as is the flash on your camera.  This hard light creates bright spots of light on the subject with little to no gradation and a distinct, sharp shadow.  In the late 1800s and very early 1900s, filmmakers relied almost entirely on the hard light of the sun for lighting, along with real life practicals like street lamps or open flame. (Photographers were already exploring other options at this time, but for some reason no one asked them!) Movies were mainly shot outside or in studios made with glass roofs so sunlight could stream down upon the actors. Thomas Edison designed a special stage for the Black Maria studio that rotated, so it was at the right angle under the glass roof to catch the sun’s rays, no matter the time of day.

 

Thomas Edison's rotating Black Maria studio.

Thomas Edison’s rotating Black Maria studio.

 

Hard light is often described as harsh and severe (and maybe that’s the look you’re going for) but it can also be dramatic and seductive. Both classic and modern day filmmakers use the clean distinction between light and shadow offered by hard light to tell their story in the most ingenious of ways. Martin Scorsese’s earlier films, like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, use hard light to great effect, using the sharp contrast between light and shadow to mirror the dark and light within the hearts of his lead characters.  The classic deep shadows and rich texture of Film Noir also come from a clever manipulation of hard light. The final scenes of George Clooney’s 2011 Ides of March are a textbook example of how hard light can be used as a dramatic tool.

 

Example of hard light. Publicity still for Ides of March, 2011.

Example of hard light. Publicity still for Ides of March, 2011.

 

Soft light wasn’t really used until the 1910’s when a sneaky filmmaker finally got the gumption to raid a photographer’s workshop and grabbed a diffuser. A diffuser is simply something that spreads or scatters and softens light. The first diffusers were most likely sheets of thin fabric hung over or in front of hard lights that broke up the direct beam creating a warmer, softer light that wraps around its subject. While the very fancy, official hanging sheets can be and are still used today, diffusers come in all shapes and sizes. Diffusers designed to attach to small camera mounted lights (as opposed to hung studio lights) are often made from curved, graduated or stippled glass or plastic. These curves diffuse the light creating a warm almost glowing look with a soft, graduated shadow. Some lights and bulbs are created specifically to give out a soft light or wash, like Fresnels, and as such are made with curves, graduation and stippling. Woody Allen is often noted for using mainly soft light. This gives his films a soft, romantic look, maybe a little hazy a times which fits the voice of his characters and films.

Most filmmakers use a mixture of hard and soft light to create a natural look that draws the viewer’s eye wherever the director wants it to be. There are, of course, notable exceptions and instances of hard light being used for dramatic effect, and then there’s the “classic” slightly terrifying sitcom where multiple cameras shoot simultaneously requiring an allover soft light with practically no shadows. What, no shadows?  Yes, it’s true. Peter Pan be damned!

We hope this overview has inspired you to look at hard and soft light as tools in your filmmaking tool kit. To learn more about light and shadow see Zacuto’s Emmy award winning film of the same name Light & Shadow and visit www.zacuto.com to see more original programming.

 

Peter-Pan

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ZACUTO, located in Chicago, IL, is known for their “Made in the USA” brand of high quality, originally designed camera accessories. Zacuto Films produces original programming with EMMY’s won in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 (Midwest region) Follow @Zacuto on Twitter.

February 26th, 2014

Cinetics Intros Axis360 Motorized Camera Slider and Quickly Hits Kickstarter Goal

Axis360-1Cinetics is a company we’ve been following since its deceptively simple CineSkates camera dolly system caused a splash back in 2011. That product, which was introduced on Kickstarter and quickly made its funding goal, was followed by CineMoco, a more sophisticated motorized camera dolly that also easily hit its Kickstarter pledge mark.

So what does Cinetics do for another encore? It introduces the Axis360, a compact, motorized tripod head and slider system which — you guessed it — made its Kickstarter goal of $75,000 yesterday, less than 24 hours after it was launched.

The Axis360 slider, which is designed to help photographers and cinematographers create dynamic panning, tilting and sliding video along with timelapse photography, has collected nearly $110,000 in pledges from 150 backers at the time of this writing.

Here’s how Cinetics describes its new motorized slider in a press release about the product:

“Axis360 is an automated motion control system that rotates and slides a camera. Designed specifically for small production crews and extreme portability, the system is compact and lightweight, sets up quickly and easily, and is extremely versatile. Compatible with most DSLR, mirrorless, and cinema cameras weighing less than 11 pounds, Axis360 can move at a wide range of speeds, fluidly or incrementally, and the number of system combinations to suit specific shooting needs is virtually endless. Axis360 is controlled by the CineMoco motor controller, which is compatible with most video cameras and can synch moves and timelapse photos on most Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras with cables included with the system. Many other cameras support timelapse photography with built-in timers (intervalometers) and do not require a camera cable.”

Axis360-with-Rail-Low-Res-2

The Axis360 will sell in three kit configurations: Basic, Plus and Pro. The Basic Kit ($450) including the CineMoco controller, tripod, and ballhead. Tripods with ¼”-20 or 3/8”-16 attachments can also be used.

The Axis360 Plus ($550) includes the components of the Basic Kit plus a Tilt Kit for balanced, motorized tilting moves. The Axis360 Pro ($900) adds a slider rail for automated horizontal and vertical camera moves.

You can get more information about the Axis360 at its Kickstarter page. Also, check out the demo video below.

February 26th, 2014

Video Pick: Adrien Broom Turns Her Studio into an Underwater World

Behind the Scenes of the Blue World from Adrien Broom on Vimeo.

One of our “Studio Tour” features this month goes inside the studio of fine-art photographer Adrien Broom, where she builds the large sets for “The Color Project,” her ongoing series of fantastical narratives. Located in the old Erector Set toy factory in New Haven, Connecticut, the 900-square-foot space has an open plan, large windows and a lot of storage for many of the props and gear she needs when she and her team are spending weeks building the sets. “I have painted the floors over at least ten times, and the walls a few times as well,” she notes. To learn more about the complicated productions she mounts in her studio, we looked at some of the behind-the-scenes videos she has created while working on “The Color Project.” In addition to showing Broom at work, they give a sense of what it takes to turn her workspace into, say, the ocean floor.

All Broom’s behind-the-scenes and stop-motion videos can be found on her Vimeo page.

Related Article
Studio Tour: Adrien Broom’s Place to Work and Play

February 26th, 2014

Brent McDonald Named 2014 POYi Multimedia Photographer of the Year

Video journalist Brent McDonald of The New York Times has won 2014 Multimedia Photographer of the Year at the Pictures of the Year International competition, organizers have announced. He won for a portfolio that included a video called “A Deadly Dance” about a surge of heroin use in Portland, Maine; and a story about Christine Quinn’s campaign for mayor of New York.

A Deadly Dance from The New York Times – Video on Vimeo.

Documentary Project of the Year honors went to NPR’s Planet Money team for a project called “Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt.” The project also won first prize for Documentary Journalism (multimedia).

National Geographic won Best eBook (app) honors for “The Photography Issue, October 2013.”  The Best Website award went to Narratively.

Adam Panczuk won the Best Photography Book award for “Karczeby,” about the people of a region of east Poland with a strong cultural attachment to the land.

Contest organizers also announced on Monday that The New York Times won Best Newspaper honors, while National Geographic won for Best Magazine.

Judging for the competition, which began February 5, ended today. Various teams of jurors judged entries in five separate divisions: News, Sports, Reportage, Editing, and Multimedia. (Click links to see our stories on category winners in each division.)

Related:

Who’s Winning at POYi? PDN Links to First Place Entries in Editing and Multimedia Categories
Daniel Berehulak Named 2014 POYi Freelance Photographer of the Year
Barabara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year
Patrick Smith Named 2014 POYi Sports Photographer of the Year

February 24th, 2014

Nikon Announces Details for New 16.2MP D4S Flagship Full-Frame Digital SLR

Nikon-D4s_58_1.4_front-1Nikon unveiled its new D4S flagship digital SLR tonight, which seems, on paper, to be a minor upgrade to the previous model. (PDN was pre-briefed on the Nikon D4S, under NDA, prior to tonight’s launch but we were not given any hands-on time with the camera.) Like the D4, which was introduced in 2012, the new D4S uses a 16.2-megapixel, FX-format (full-frame) sensor, which Nikon describes as “newly designed.”

The revamped imaging chip in the D4S has an expanded ISO range, going all the way up to ISO 409,600 (Hi-4), which should be able to let it capture visible subject matter in near total darkness for forensic photography and other scientific applications. That extremely high ISO range could also, potentially, have photojournalistic applications such as war photography when flash is not permitted or advisable.

The Nikon D4S also has a new EXPEED 4 image processing engine designed to cut down on image noise when shooting at high ISOs in low light, and for better HD video quality and improved overall performance speed. The Nikon D4S can shoot at 11 frames per second with full autofocus (AF) and auto exposure (AE). (The previous camera could shoot at 11fps but AF and AE were locked on the first frame.) Nikon says the D4S has an “overall 30% increase in processing power.”

The Nikon D4S first premiered, under glass, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, but details about the camera were not officially announced until tonight.

Read the rest of this story and see more photos of the new Nikon D4S here.