high beams

An ad for Honda uses hundreds of car headlights to create pixel art. Just plain cool. (And I love the rising sun in the background.)

via Gizmodo

{profile} Making beautiful images at age 98

NPR has a lovely profile of 98-year-old architectural photographer Julius Shulman. There are wonderful photographs accompanying the piece, and you could learn more about composition than a dozen tutorials could teach you just by examining his photographs carefully.
But what most typifies a Shulman/Nogai photograph is meticulous composition that will guide your eye endlessly, if you allow it. These photographers are notorious for the amount of careful consideration that formulates each frame. They've spent up to nine hours on assignment to leave with a mere 11 frames. Eleven perfect frames, that is.
I love Shulman's thoughts on the term "photo shoot," too. We all fall victim to the terminology ... "Oh, I have a shoot on Wednesday ..." Makes us sound all professional and fancy and busy and important. But haven't you also felt a little ridiculous saying that, too? A bit of a poseur? Shulman (and his partner Juergen Nogai articulate it perfectly:
"Shoot?" says Shulman, laughing. "Look at me. Do I have a gun? I'm a photographer." Nogai explains: "People are not thinking anymore; they're just shooting." Some would agree that the digital age has enabled a decrease in deliberation. If you can fill up a memory card with 1,000 images until you get the perfect one, after all, why stop to carefully compose?
The profile is here.

An excellent slideshow is here.


a wedding picture you won't see in many portfolios

Three little wedding guests playing outside on the lawn. Did David Lynch get married in Poland?

Photo by Federico Caponi

via Burn

i want to go to there

A sumptuous new place for photographic exhibitions (and eventually lectures and workshops) is opening in L.A. this weekend, the Annenberg Space for Photography.
The Annenberg Space for Photography is an entirely new cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment. The space features state-of-the-art, high-definition digital technology as well as traditional prints by some of the world's most renowned photographers and a selection of emerging photographic talents as well.
It's 10,000 square feet of photographic goodness. It's at 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City - on the former site of the Shubert Theatre. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-6pm, closed Monday and Tuesday. The first exhibit is L8S ANG3LES, in which 11 prominent photographers give multidimensional looks at the city.

A very appreciative and thorough preview is available at PhotoInduced.

The home page for the Annenberg Space for Photography is over here.

{gear} Canon's entry-level DSLR with HD video

Canon introduced the Rebel T1i today, another step in the obsoleting of camcorders. Headlines: 15MP CMOS sensor, HD video, 920,000 dot monitor, Digic 4 processor, all for $800, body only. (The camera also has Canon's sadly lacking 9-point autofocus system, alas.) In all, it looks like a really terrific lower-cost alternative to the $3,000 Canon 5d Mark II if you're ready to jump into video.

Lengthy details and the official Canon announcement are readily available, but dpreview has an extensive hands-on review.


very simple: 1) Open the last saved jpeg image 2) Save it as a new jpeg image with slightly more compression 3) Repeat 600 times

this is what you get:

Generation Loss from hadto on Vimeo.

thanks to hadto

via Boing Boing

{local} the "character project" is coming to SF

Last summer, USA Network, in collaboration with the Aperture Foundation, sent out 11 prominent photographers to capture the character of America. Now the book is out, and a traveling exhibition will visit a number of cities, including San Francisco on May 8 and 9th (I'd tell you exactly where the exhibition is going to be, but the project's sadly annoying and flash-heavy website just doesn't work very well).
The effort has lofty intentions:
"Character Project is USA Network's ongoing initiative committed to celebrating America's characters -- the interesting, dazzling and distinctive people, from all walks of life, who make this country extraordinary."
Yes, there's a marketing hook: USA Network's "Characters Welcome" tagline is at the root of it all, but who cares? The network gave meaningful work to some wonderful photographers, including Mary Ellen Mark (whose photo is used above), Richard Renaldi, Jeff Dunas, Marla Rutherford to name a few. It'll be a show worth checking.

bruce haley's "tao of war photography"

Stunning. Frightening. Important.

Those are the words that leaped to mind when going through Bruce Haley's portfolio. He's a Frank Capra award winner, has photographed conflicts all over the world, and if you've ever thought about what it would be like to be an international photojournalist, here is a gritty description from someone who has been there. Some time ago (more than a decade, actually), he wrote The Tao of War Photography. Now he's put it on his website. Some excerpts:
8. If a rebel commander asks whether you would like to be buried in his country or your own, he may very well be serious and not just testing your resolve...
18. If you don’t understand the entire concept of indirect fire, do not go to a war zone... If you only remember one thing from this article, let this be it.......
31. Huge, menacing rats like to perch upon sleeping photographers’ faces at 3 a.m in seedy hotels in warring portions of the former Soviet Union.....
64. d. Truly give a damn about the world......

I'll just confess my ignorance right up front. Haley is one of the people I I should have known about already, but hadn't. For the more knowledgeable among you, forgive my naivete. I can understand the rolling of the eyes. But I won't let my ignorance lead to embarrassed silence.

Give yourself a little time with this site. It will remind you of what photography can do, and the difference it can make. The whole list of "diverse bits of good advice peeking above the sarcasm" is over here.

Via "We Can Shoot Too"


His biggest fan, I guess

If you're not from New York, it's easy to hate the Yankees. And now you've got another reason: Alex Rodriguez's photo spread in Details. Sure, we've heard that he's narcissistic and self-centered, and we know he was in the steroid crowd. But he always seemed a little tortured, too, and that made him more appealing. He knows he'll never be Derek Jeter. He tanks in the playoffs. And he seems to want so desperately to be liked. Rodriguez Agonistes.

Lots of ballplayers aren't very complex, and that serves them well. You have to be mindless and be able to keep the self-esteem issues in check to play a sport where failing seven out of 10 times at the plate makes you a pretty good player. But Rodriguez doesn't seem mindless at all. It all seems to eat at him. So we thought he was kind of smart, too. We're less sure now. Why did he listen to ultra hot photog Steven Klein and agree to this pose? Was he just trying to please? Who knows.

One other thing: Rodriguez called the writer of the Details piece after the interview because he was worried about something he had said about his favorite Madonna song. Here's the amazing part: He was frantically trying to reach that writer the day after another writer, one from Sports Illustrated, had called him to talk about his positive drug test. So Rodgriguez knew his world was about to collapse, but he's thinking about a Madonna song. Just plain weird.

The story and the rest of the photos are over here.

What $1 trillion looks like

It's hard to get your mind around the amounts of dollars in the news these days. Remember the late Senator Everett Dirkson, who said once, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." Well, let's just say we've been hearing about a lot of money lately. How much? Take a look at what a trillion dollars would look like in $100 bills.

Via popgive


Students send a weather balloon, and a camera, to the edge of space

A group of students 18 and 19 years old had a simple idea and executed it brilliantly: Fill a weather balloon with helium, place monitoring equipment -- and a digital camera -- on board, and hope for the best. The results are astonishing.

Students at the IES La Bisbal school in Catalonia inflated the latex balloon to just over two meters, which would allow it to expand as it ascended the atmosphere. Sensors relayed information about the balloon's progress via Google Earth, and a lightweight Nikon digital camera captured images the whole way.

The balloon eventually got 20 miles high, far above the danger point of 30,000 feet, the altitude used by most commercial jetliners.

They've posted a collection of photos and a couple of videos of the project over here on Flickr. You can read more about it in the London Telegraph website. They spent less than $100 on the camera, and even after the balloon was recovered, it was still functioning. I think Nikon has a marketing opportunity here.

via Photo News Today


that IS annoying

From the Top 10 annoying things that photographers say to each other:
4. All of my work is available as limited edition Giclée prints.
  • So your printer sprays droplets of ink at the paper? Wow! That’s exactly what my inkjet printer does.
  • Giclée is French don’t ‘cha know. It’s pronounced “zhee-clay” and it sounds pretentious. IMHO.
and of course, the all-time classic, and deservedly Number One on the list:
1. Dude! Did you get this shot?
This is a common question from the serial chimper. You know, the person you’re out shooting with who is continually chimping their images (looking at the LCD and then pointing and saying ”ooh, ooh, ooh” when they see something they like). They’ll call out when they find a photograph they think is great and you might have missed. And, don’t call me dude!
via Paul Burwell

{gear} the lensbaby Composer

I've been a fan of the Lensbaby system of selective focus lenses for a couple of years. I love the distinctively unique blur that you get from the lenses. It's a look that, at least so far, can't be duplicated with Photoshop or other image-editing programs.

Until now, success with the Lensbaby has always been notoriously hit-or-miss, especially for subjects on the move. That's because the focus point is set manually through the use of a bellows. You looked through the viewfinder, squiggled the bellows around, and tried to find the part of the frame you wanted in focus. The bellows moved up and down and in and out, so it was tricky. And once you found your sweet spot, then you had to keep your fingers steady on the bellows while you simultaneously pressed the shutter.

Until recently, I had been using the Lensbaby second-generation product, which looks like this:
As you can see, there's no way to lock in the focus point; you just had to keep your fingers as steady as possible and hope that the shot would still be there when you fired the shutter. When it worked, it worked wonderfully. But my hard drives are filled with loads of photos that are just not quite there.

The Lensbaby 3G went a long way to rectifying the problem by letting the user to lock the position of the bellows. It was better, but the lens itself became a lot more ungainly, and adjusting the focusing rods was difficult in the field. The system worked well for studio shots when you have the luxury of time, but again, out in the field it was a lot to manage. Plus, the thing looked more like a surgical device than a lens.

Now comes the Composer. It's a radical redesign, and the lens is exponentially better. I completely love it. The bellows now is more of a rotation device, and when you remove your fingers, it stays in place automatically. Then you can fine tune the focus with a focusing wheel. It's serious genius.
Just as before, the lens works in aperture priority only on your DSLR. (I do wish it worked in manual, because I often find myself wanting to override the exposure more than the -2 to +2 range that aperture priority allows.) You can change the size of the sweet spot by changing aperture rings that slip in and out of the lens. (There is improvement here, as well; the rings used to be far more difficult to change. Now they pop in and out easily.)
The optics are improved, as well. There are two elements instead of one, so the parts of the frame that are in focus are sharper than before. And there's more: accessories now include an Optic Swap System, which gives you a choice of effects. You can make your pictures look like they came from a plastic camera or a zone plate, or you can get a soft and diffused look by using a single glass optic. I haven't tried these goodies yet, but I am looking forward to them eventually.
Overall, this is a quantum leap ahead for the Lensbaby lineup. I've always loved the look the lens provided, but now it's light years easier to produce. The price is $269, and there's a special going on now that lets you get wide-angle and macro adapters for free.


{howto} You can do this too

A 45-minute time exposure made for circular star tracks is seen over this run-down barn along County Road A near Iron River, Wis., Sunday night, Feb. 15, 2009. During the time exposure, the barn was lit with a battery powered spotlight using a technique called light painting. Photo by Nate Rendulich

Young photographer Nate Rendulich, a senior in high school, photographed this run-down barn near Iron River, Wis.. The photograph, which ran on the cover of the Duluth News Tribune’s Local news section and was distributed by the Associated Press, appeared in newspapers and Web sites around the world.

From the Sun-Sentinel.com

Want to try this at home? It's easier than you think. There are some great tutorials on painting with light available from DIY Photography and the Digital Photography School; you can also find tons of examples and inspiration on Flickr.

The Getty Collection on Flickr

For a couple of months, some photographers on Flickr have been getting siren calls from Getty Images, asking if they would be interested in letting the agency include selected photographs of theirs in its collection.

Getting a tap on the shoulder from Getty is heady stuff for amateurs and hobbyists dreaming of turning pro. But the deal isn't for everyone; Getty is insisting on two years of exclusivity, meaning, if someone else comes along and would like to use one of your photos, sorry, that's not allowed. Also, the revenue split has raised some hackles, too.

But at its core, the deal is a watershed moment for stock photography, and maybe for photography in general. A photo sharing site, Flickr, has partnered with a leading supplier of photographic images, Getty, to make thousands of images from primarily non-professional photographers available to potential buyers.

I got the invitation more than a month ago and was ambivalent about the terms of the deal. I asked for help on Flickr, and the outpouring of opinion was amazing. You can read it here.

Thomas Hawk has an excellent summation of the deal and lots of links for further reading over here.

{local} what's around you

The Bay Area Video Coalition has an opening tonight called 5 Blocks in which photographers were encouraged to make images within .. you guessed it ... five blocks of where they live or work or go to school. From the website:
The Bay Area is considered one of the most unique places in the world to photograph. From Temescal to Tiburon to Telegraph to the Tenderloin, it boasts diversity that changes about every 5 blocks . The next ROHSTOFF exhibit features artwork by BAVC's diverse community. Artists were asked to submit photos from within 5 blocks of their homes, schools or workplaces. The result - "5 Blocks" - is a photo exhibit and contest by, and for, the community . . .

The photographers include Plug1 and Plug2 from the tireless What I'm Seeing photoblog.

Event details here. Thanks, Troy Holden, for the tip.


{contest} have you got a book in you?

Blurb and other sponsors are offering a $25,000 first prize for your photo book. There are three categories -- Fine Art, Editorial and Commercial, and the deadline for submission is July 16. The $35 entry fee allows you to submit multiple entries.

I've used Blurb and been really happy with the results. And their page templates are far superior to LuLu's.

Here's how to enter.

{local} round up the usual suspects

San Francisco authorities say they are "seriously considering" cracking down on "flash mob" activities, according to a breathless SFGate story today. "Seriously considering." Those are words that editors put on stories to try to give them a news peg. Except in this case, it's not really a lead. It's just a lame excuse for catching up a week, a month, a year after the fact. Oh, and by the way, it gives you a cover to run photos you wouldn't run in the paper, because what happened wasn't really news. Oh, except 3,000 people showed up for the Valentine's Day pillow fight, and we didn't have a word on it, so we better do something. Sheesh. I love the Chronicle more than most people. (Maybe even more than Delfin Vigil.) But this is so lame. You want to be relevant to your readership? Normally cretinous radio shouter Jim Rome has a motto that applies here: "Have a take, and do not suck."


playing with you

Kutiman's mashup of music feeds from a big batch of amateur You Tube videos is simply amazing. He's created seven entirely new pieces with plenty of funk and soul by splicing together bits and pieces of YouTube uploads.

Kutiman's videos made a splash a few days ago, and for awhile his servers couldn't handle the load. But things are up and running again, and if you haven't heard them yet, give a listen. It's the ultimate populist mashup jam band.

I love that he credits each and every one of the 22 people he sampled, and he's made it very easy to visit the sources. "I had a great time working with you," Kutiman says.


{tips} 70 stunning shots in 2 days

For months and months, people have been clamoring to find out how L.A.-based sports shooter Dustin Snipes managed to produce 70 stunning portraits of basketball players in an insanely short amount of time. He had given the lighting details earlier, but now he has lifted the veil on his simple but powerful post-processing technique.

"I always planned on sharing it with everyone but just haven’t had time to put anything together until now. Recently, I was asked to do a guest post for Scott’s blog and thought, “What better way to share this Photoshop tip with everyone than on Mr. Photoshop himself’s blog, Scott Kelby?” I was pretty giddy, to say the least.
We're the ones who are giddy. It's all here. Thanks, Dustin.

Via DIYPhotography.Net

{local} Here's pie in your eye

What makes hundreds of people gather at one of the best-known intersections in San Francisco (the Powell Street cable car turnaround near Union Square) and throw pies at one another? We don't know. But we support it. There are worse ways to busy up a Thursday evening. The pie fight comes fresh on the heels of the Valentine's Day pillow fight at the Ferry Building and the grilled cheese competition in Dolores Park, and a couple of days before this year's urban Iditarod and Brides of March festivities.

The starting point for tomorrow's Iditarod (03/07) is supposed to be secret to keep the crowds down, so don't tell anyone that you can find out all about it over here.

And you can find out everything you need to know about next Saturday's Brides of March over here.

Yes, San Francisco is different. It always has been. (Photos below have links to more):

"This is like Web 4.0"

Mark Cooper, the creative director at Ogilvy, demonstrates an amazingly cool 3D video interactive site from GE. Turn on your computer's camera, hold up a printout from the GE site, and a 3D scene appears on your screen. It's magic.


{local} a Warhol factory party

The East Bay Express and Amoeba music are looking to answer the question, what would Warhol's space look like now? From the Express:
Step into the world of Andy Warhol and his original 1960s New York City Factory. ... an Emeryville warehouse (is turned) upside down for a night of live art, film making, musical performances, and theatrical art forms.
A portion of this event features a re-creation of Andy Warhol's Factory, including a screening of 13 Most Beautiful People… Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests (Plexifilm DVD, out 3/24) and live production of art in the style and process performed by Andy Warhol, including silk screening, filming, and painting.

Velvet Underground Cover Bands will perform --- Dress in your 1960s best!

Visitors are encouraged to bring a can of Campbell's soup for the Alameda County Food Bank.

Admission: Free
It starts at 6, at 1343 Powell Street in Emeryville. More info over here.

Info on the continuing Warhol show at the deYoung is here.

8 years on the Bush beat

Time Magazine has a beautiful audio/visual piece on the Bush presidency, from the two photographers who covered W. for the magazine, Brooks Kraft and Christopher Morris. The photos are wonderful, but Kraft's fawning and simplistic commentary comes close to ruining the show.
"There was always something about (Bush when he was) alone that was very evocative. ... There was a sense, always, that Bush was a man of determination and resolve who would go it alone, regardless of the consequences."
You could call that determination, or you could call it something else.

Morris, thankfully, is a lot less pompous. When he got the assignment from Time he wondered, "How am I going to photograph a man in a suit for many years to come?" After the attacks of 2001, he traveled around the country with Bush.
"I saw the real cult of personality that was building up around George W. Bush. ... It's something I had seen in other countries, this kind of nationalism and patriotism.... It was shocking to me, to see it in America."
Morris says Bush's emotional visit to a hospital in Bethesda to visit soldiers wounded in Iraq was his most memorable experience. He asked Bush how he could do it, and the president said, "I have to do it, because I sent them there."

Worth a look.


temporary art in a timeless place

Jim Denevan recently made the world's largest freehand drawing on a dry lake in Nevada. How big is it? Three miles across. Jim walked for eight days, about 100 miles to draw the pattern. The drawing was transient, as all of Jim's work is: "It was completely erased in a rainstorm the next week... It felt strange to work so hard and not see tide come in. But rains did come which is sort of the same thing."
More amazing landscape sculptures and photographs at his website. San Francisco's KQED has a nice profile of Denevan.

The photographer who helped Denevan document his work in the Black Rock Desert, David Sievert, was honored by the Professional Aerial Photographers Association on Tuesday for his outstanding work. The story is here.


"It was like the city was whispering in my ear"

When Stephanie de Rouge emigrated to New York City from France two years ago, she felt very unfamiliar in the big city. To get to know the place better, she took a walk with a camera. A long walk -- 15 miles all the way up Broadway from the southern tip of Manhattan to the Bronx. And she took rolls and rolls of overlapping black and white pictures on her Holga. Why a Holga and not a digital camera? "Because I think it would lose all the sexiness ... just the magic of it."

The result is a stream-of-consciousness set of images, one pictue blending into the next, just the way the neighborhoods do.

The New York Times has an audio/visual slideshow here. You can see more at Stephanie's website.

(with a shoutout to Dave)

{gear} A roundup from PMA

The Photo Marketing Association show is taking place in Las Vegas this week. Here's a roundup of the good stuff so far:

Samsung introduced the NX series, which is being called half dSLR, half point and shoot. It has an APS C-sized sensor, which is what you get in most dSLRs, but it doesn't have a mirror or an optical viewfinder, which is what you get in a point and shoot. But you also get a much smaller camera than can take match up well with the big boys. Also, interchangeable lenses, but those haven't been unveiled yet.

Source: John Herrman at Gizmodo

Panasonic showed off the DMC-GH1, another contender in the hybrid dSLR and HD video market that really took off with Canon's 5d Mark II. The new Panasonic is the latest in its four-thirds line of reduced-sized dSLRs (you get all the performance of a big camera in a camera that's ... not so big). The new GH1 is being shown with a Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm lens, which the company says was designed with HD video in mind. It has face recognition and continuous autofocus in video mode, too. More details here.

Source: DPR

The fastest memory card in the world? That's what Pretec is calling it: a 64GB compact flash card at 666x, with transfer speeds up to 100 MB per second. More here.

Source: Photography Bay

The news has been out for awhile that Leica was introducing a medium-format-type digital SLR, and some folks at PMA are finally getting a first look at the thing. Here's Eric from Photography Bay:
I was tickled (yes, tickled) that I actually got to handle this beast of camera. Even though it doesn’t have an official price yet, rumor has it that the Leica S2 will cost more than both cars that I own . . . combined (around $40k). It’s 37.5 megapixels in a 30 x 45 mm sensor built into a 35mm-sized body. Surprizingly, the Leica S2 is not too far off from the 5D Mark II in size and would be right in line with a 1Ds Mark III or D3x-sized camera. However, it’s got some heft to it. It feels like a brick. The Leica S2 produces TIFF files in the range of 70+ MB and will have the ability to capture DNG format images for easy import and workflow in Photoshop.

Here, use mine

Joanna Goddard at Glamour magazine left one disposable camera on a park bench in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn, just to see what would happen.
During the day, my intern Matt left a note saying: "Good afternoon! I attached this camera to the bench so you could take pictures. Seriously. So have fun. I'll be back later this evening to pick it up."
The cameras were still there that night. What kind of pictures were on the rolls? Look. They're funny. And cute. New Yorkers aren't always mean.

{contest} Dreamers wanted

Have an idea for a photography project? You want $50,000 to make it happen? Lenovo and Microsoft are sponsoring the "Name Your Dream Assignment." You post an idea, get as many thousands of your friends as you can to "Pic" it, and the top 20 vote-getters become finalists. Then a panel of judges picks the winners.

Yeah, it's an evil marketing scheme. But it's also 50 grand. So go there with a big idea.

Source: Darren Rowse


what you look like eating sushi

A customer puts a camera on the conveyor belt at a sushi restaurant.

via Boing Boing

UPDATE: (03/03/09) Another example of sushi-conveyor-belt-cam has surfaced:

lost in a moment from dennis wheatley on Vimeo.

Source: LaugingSquid

Mystery solved

A detail from "When Mona Lisa Came to Tea," by Anthony Christian.
Link via I love bad things.

Faces in the crowd

Simon Hogsberg, a freelance photographer based in Copenhagen, has released the latest in his very engaging series of projects. This one is called "We're All Gonna Die -- 100 Meters of Existence."

Hogsberg has produced a 100-meter-long compilation that was shot over the course of 20 days in 2007 from a bridge overlooking a railroad platform in Berlin. The online presentation has a very cool slider that allows you to linger over portions of the photograph. (Look for the couple about midway through who each have medical patches over their right eye. What happened there?)

Hogsberg's previous work includes Faces of New York, where he walked the streets of New York for a month, seven hours a day, looking for people whose faces intrigued him. He found 10. He photographed the people, then had them talk for a bit.

More of Hogsberg's work here.

Snappies from the Frugal Traveler

Matt Gross, the Frugal Traveler, has a lovely set of photos from Venice in the New York Times this week. View the slideshow here. The picture above is the Ponte del Megio in the Santa Croce district. A very good writer who takes very good photographs.


Animated GIFs drive you nuts?

Then have a look at this Flickr comment stream. You might develop a new appreciation for the form.