Effective January 1, 2008, passengers on planes will no longer be able to carry loose rechargeable lithium batteries (the kind that are commonly used in digital cameras, camcorders, and laptops) in their checked baggage. However, you can have them in your carry-on bags, as long as they’re in their original packaging or in a simple resealable plastic bag. And you’re limited to a total of only two spare rechargeable lithium batteries in your carry-on bags. It seems that under certain circumstances, these batteries can explode and catch fire. Hmmm. Makes me wonder what exactly are those circumstances? So if you’re traveling, plan ahead. And just to be safe, don’t carry lithium batteries in your pants pockets. Ouch.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
There are a few important milestones for Canon happening right now. 1) They’re celebrating their 70th Anniversary as a company. 2) They’re celebrating their 20th Anniversary of making EOS SLR cameras. 3) They’ve just produced their 30 Millionth EOS camera. Congratulations to Canon.
Canon made the switch from manual focus cameras to autofocus cameras in 1987 with the introduction of the EOS 650 camera. They had established a large loyal following through the 60s and 70s with pro-oriented cameras like the F1 and amateur-oriented cameras like the very popular AE-1. At one time, it seemed like everyone was using an AE-1. Then in 1987, they made the tough choice to change lens-mounts and come up with a totally new AF line of cameras and lenses. Even at that time, they were seeing the eventual change from film cameras to digital cameras, and with the new lens-mount system it would be easier to make that transition. After making the change, Canon has been more popular than ever, trading the #1 spot with Nikon back and forth ever since.
I bought my first Canon SLR in 1989, when I picked up a brand new EOS-1, their professional level camera. I loved the camera and the Canon lenses. Previously, I had been using first Nikon and then Olympus cameras, but decided to make the shift to autofocus, since that was where the industry was going. I never regretted that decision. Over the years I’ve continued to use Canon cameras, switching to digital bodies when they became available—first the D30 in 2000, then a 10D, a Rebel XTi, and soon a 40D. It’s been a fun trip and I plan to continue using these fine cameras. Thanks, Canon.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The photo above shows a display of the book at Powell's bookstore in Portland, Oregon. It also shows a couple of paintings I photographed for this book. I made around 75 images for the project, ranging from pottery to paintings.
When talking about digital photography, it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due. Digital cameras and digital photography are better at some things than film technology ever was, so here are a few of the things it’s especially good at.
Instant Feedback – Of course, instant Image Review is a great feature. Checking your composition as you shoot is wonderful. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this works best with subjects that aren’t so time sensitive, like landscapes, architecture, still lifes, studio, and portraiture. For time sensitive situations, like sports and photojournalism, looking at every image you shoot before shooting again might get in your way of getting the shot. The Histogram is also part of the instant feedback. For older photogs, this is like having an instant densitometer reading on every image as you take them. You know right away how good the exposure is for each image and how easy it will be to make a print from it. Both of these aspects allow for accelerated learning as you photograph. Take a picture, analyze it, make corrections, take it again, and repeat as necessary. It really condenses and speeds up the photographic learning curve.
Speed of working – With low cost memory cards and high capacity shooting, it’s not unusual for digital photographers to shoot nearly 10 times more than they would have shot with film. In the past, a photographer might shoot in their lifetime maybe 10,000 to 20,000 images. Many photographers today will shoot that much in a year. And the truth is that the more you do anything, whether it’s sports, music, or any kind of performance, the better you get. Speeding up your output will speed up your progress. Combine this with the first advantage, Instant Feedback, and this will result in younger photographers learning and improving faster than ever.
Quality and Ease of Color Imaging – I first started with color photography when Ektacolor paper was fiber-based and most of the processors required you to work in total darkness with not even a safe light. Yuck. It was exciting for everybody when color papers became resin-coated and lightproof processing tubes became available. But regular color prints faded quickly and most of the time had a veiled quality to the colors. Digital cameras are made for color and image manipulation programs make high quality color images a snap. Inkjet printers produce richer truer colors and with pigment inks you get prints that can last 200 years. You now have complete image control, better looking images, and longer lasting prints. What more could you ask for?
Image Manipulation – In digital, any image becomes plastic. You can bend them, reshape them, alter colors, add colors, increase the sharpness, increase the fuzziness, turn a color image into black-and-white, remove objects, add objects, or any one of an infinite variety of options. And all of this can be done with hardly any sign of tampering. While it sometimes casts doubt on the truth of an image (such as: is that real?), this is a huge advantage for artists trying to capture their own unique vision.
Combining Images – In the beginning, people had to physically cut out images and glue them together to make one composition. Now we can cut and paste in the computer, adding and altering and moving any number of images to make a single image. It’s relatively easy and almost undetectable. With this advantage, photography becomes closer to painting or collage, giving the artist complete control of the composition.
Ease of Combining with Other Media – This is a generally unexplored area for digital photography. We now have the capability to add words, illustrations, and/or audio to any image. It’s possible to add video as well. While this changes the concept of still photography, it also opens the door to new creativity and new opportunities for photographers, adding depth and context to any project.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Here's some of the more pithy quotes I included in the lecture.
Photography: “. . . is it a mirror, reflecting a portrait of the artist who made it, or a window, through which one might better know the world?” – John Szarkowski, 1978
“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself, and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly will his character appear in spite of him.” – Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh (1903)
“You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah, 1921
“Life is very nice, but it lacks form. It’s the aim of art to give it some.” – Jean Anouilh, The Rehearsal (1950)
“The Arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, are very close to the center of a nation's purpose - and are a test of the quality of a nation's civilization.” – John F. Kennedy
“…knowledge of photography is just as important as that of the alphabet. The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the use of camera and pen alike.” – László Moholy-Nagy, 1936Many people at the lecture were interested in the photographers included in the "slide show," so here is the list of them.
Eugene Atget - A French photographer who took on the project of documenting the entire city of Paris. He worked with, even then, antiquated equipment and produced images of timeless beauty.
William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Joel Sternfeld, and Stephen Shore - Very influential color photographers who started working and exhibiting in color in the 1970s. Their impact can still be seen in today's young photographers.
August Sander (1876 – 1964) - He photographed the German people as a large scale, long term national portrait. He was one of the first to make environmental portraits, showing people as they were in daily life.
Irving Penn – He is a fashion, product, & portrait photographer for Vogue magazine. He was successfully able to blend commercial and fine art.
William Henry Jackson (1843 – 1942) - One of the first photographers of the American West. He could make up to 17 wet plate negatives a day. He was the first to photograph in Yellowstone and his images helped to make it a national park.
Carleton E. Watkins (1829 – 1916) - One of the first photographers to visit and photograph Yosemite in California. One of the first photographers to make a living selling prints of scenics and landscapes.
Russell A. Kirsch & Associates - This is one of the first digital images. He worked for the National Bureau of Standards and invented a machine that could scan an image and convert it into a 1-bit image.
Henry Peach Robinson – Early English Pictorialist photographer (1830 - 1901). One of the first to make combination prints. “Fading Away” used 5 different negatives, 1858.
Jerry Uelsmann – He is the master of combination printing and originator of the concepts of Post Visualization. Produces black and white prints that seamlessly combines up to 8 separate negatives.
Jeremy Dawson – This was an image from his series “Men in Suits.” While it mimics traditional street photography, it is actually a subtle and clever composite.
Daniel Lee – Manipulated images from series based on the Chinese Zodiac. Included images were Year of the Ox and Year of the Cock.
Kathryn Hunter – American. Image: Escape. Digital composite from B&W infrared film images.
Tom Chambers. Image: They Comfort 2003.
Mary Frey. Image: In Her Bedroom 1997.
Joyce Neimanas – She is a digital collage artist producing evocative and colorful images.
Larry McNeil – Native American artist whose works incorporates elements of traditional imagery and text.
Loretta Lux – She is mostly known for posed studio portraits of children. They wear the photographers’ old childhood clothes and she puts in backgrounds from images she makes while traveling. She also does subtle and not so subtle manipulations to alter their features, shapes, and geometry.
Fritz Liedtke – Works in Film and digital, frequently mixing the two. The images I included were from a series on adolescence.
Maggie Taylor – She is a digital artist that uses scanners for most of her work. Finished images can contain as many as 150 separate images and layers.
Olivia Parker – She started out as a painter, but switched to photography. In the beginning she used large format and is a master printer, but has since switched to digital cameras and inkjet printers.
Hermon Joyner – From my series called "Figures," which is an oblique look at how humans view themselves through artwork as idealized forms.
Nathan Baker – He shot this series (2006) with a 4x5, scanned them and combined them (up to 36 separate images) in Photoshop. This series is a look at people at work.
Stewart Harvey – A series of upbeat and poignant Post Katrina New Orleans portraits that focuses on the people and life that is still left in the city. It combines the environmental portraits with Harvey's impressions and anecdotes of his encounters in New Orleans. A successful mix of images and words.
Dan Burkholder – This is a series of images of Post Katrina New Orleans that focuses on the damage, but explores the unlikely beauty of that devastation. He takes several images, varying the exposure, and then combines them in the computer. Burkholder has a book coming next year (March 2008) on this series entitled, "The Color of Loss: An Intimate Portrait of New Orleans After Katrina."
Hermon Joyner - Black and white Japanese Gardens images. It eventually became the project and book, Visual/Haiku, which paired the images with haiku poetry.
Mark Klett - He started the Rephotographic Survey project in the 1970s, which picked old photographs from the early survey photographers like Timothy O'Sullivan and tried to reproduce those views exactly - matching angle of view, perspective, framing and lighting. It's an exporation of geologic time versus human time. Working on this project since the 70s, the Rephotographic Survey has found its culmination in digital media, incorporating still images, audio interviews, video clips, and interactive features. This project is available as a book/DVD combination, titled, "Third Views, Second Sights: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I'll post again next week to let you know how it went.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Recently, our textbook Focus on Photography, published by Davis Publications Inc., was given the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. This is an organization that monitors, evaluates, and awards instructional materials and textbooks for use in primary and secondary schools. Kathy and I, and the many people involved in the editing, design, and production of this textbook, are thrilled that we were given this honor. And so, it must be true, hard work is rewarded. Thanks and congratulations to all.
This isn’t exactly new news, but camera manufacturers have announced several cameras of interest in gearing up for the Christmas sales season. Considering it’s an off year for Photokina, it’s slightly surprising that so many cameras have been announced.
Canon announced the EOS 1Ds Mark III, the EOS 40D, and the Powershot G9. All of these are significant updates and upgrades from the models they’re replacing, which are respectively the 1Ds Mark II, the 30D, and G7. The 1Ds Mark III will have a CMOS sensor measuring 21 MP, the 40D with 10 MP, and the G9 with 12 MP. All will have much larger rear LCD screens and of course higher resolution. The 1Ds Mark III and 40D will also feature anti-dust technology and Canon’s Live View, which is what all point and shoot cameras have so you can view and compose the image through the screen on the back of the camera. DSLRs haven’t had this feature in the past, mainly because the internal reflex mirror has prevented this from being the norm. In the new cameras, the mirror flips up out of the way so the sensor chip can preview the image. It’s unclear at this time how much battery power will be eaten up in using Live View. More important news for the 40D is that it will shoot at 6.5 frames per second for up to 75 images without stopping. This will make it very useful for sports photographers. And it will have more weather sealing included in its construction. It won’t be waterproof, but should hold up better in wet conditions. The big news for the G9 is that it will be able to shoot RAW images, which is preferred by most pro photographers. The previous model, the G7, had dropped this capability, much to the dismay of serious shutterbugs around the world.
On the Nikon front, they have two cameras of note coming out: the D3 and the D300. The D3 is Nikon’s first entry into full-frame sensor cameras. For a while, some people were speculating that Nikon would stick with their reduced chip cameras, but that is not the case. The D3 will have a full-frame 12 MP sensor and it is reputed to have amazingly good high ISO capability (up to 25,600 ISO!!!). It should be a good fit for photojournalists who shoot with available light. Personally, I think most of the manufacturers have gotten too hung up on pixel count and haven’t paid enough attention to image quality, especially high ISO image quality. I can only hope that this is the reasoning behind Nikon’s 12 MP full frame chip, which is a bit low on the pixel count by today’s standards. Anyway, if this is the reasoning, it’s a very smart move. The D300 replaces the D200 and will have a 12 MP sensor (1.5 cropping) and will shoot at 6 fps. Both cameras will also have Live View capability, anti-dust technology, and use a 51 point AF sensor.
In the Sony camp, the A700 has been announced. Since Minolta/Konica was absorbed by Sony a few years ago, they haven’t introduced any pro-level cameras. The A700 changes that. It has a 12 MP sensor, 11 point AF sensor, faster focusing, and built-in image stabilization (IS). In comparison, Canon and Nikon put their IS technology in their lenses, not the camera bodies. With the Sony camera, you have IS for every lens, not just a few, more expensive, lenses. It will also use both Memory Stick Duo and CompactFLash formats for image storage. Another point in its favor is that the A700 will have access to the excellent Carl Zeiss lenses, which are very fine indeed.
DSLRs are obviously not going away and this season proves that there is still room for innovation and improvement.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Once again, my mom (Lavelle Joyner, age 82), Kathy and I walked Bloomsday, a 12k race. I brought along a small point & shoot camera and took some snaps. The farther back in the pack, the less formal things are. These pictures reflect that, plus all along the way bands and other entertainers set up to encourage the runners, walkers, and strollers along. It was a fun day for all.Hermon Joyner
Monday, May 14, 2007
One of the largest online retailers, Amazon.com, has just acquired one of the biggest destination photography websites, www.dpreview.com. Digital Photography Review was started in 1998 by Phil Askey and has become one the most popular sites on the web for digital camera enthusiasts. Their camera reviews have become the benchmark for reviews and feature the most detailed information and objective feedback possible. Amazon is a Fortune 500 company that sells new and used products of nearly every description, though they got their start as an online bookseller.
Dpreview.com has always been a dependable site for unbiased reviews of digital cameras. It seems to me that it could be problematic for them now that such a big retailer owns them. I hope they can continue delivering the same level of objective reviews, and don’t become simply another selling tool for Amazon. On the other hand, maybe this will give them the resources to publish more reviews than they usually do. For some time, it’s been hard for them to keep up with the torrent of new cameras that pours out of the manufacturers. Perhaps this is just what they need to take it to the next level.
Visit dpreview's site here.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I’ve been using the same 6-MP SLR for a few years now and, while I wasn’t tempted by the 8-megapixel models that replaced it (not enough difference, in my opinion), I am now starting to look at the newest 10 to 12-MP models. All this looking around and tire-kicking has prompted me to consider why anybody buys anything. Why do we buy stuff? Is it always driven by actual need? (Obvious answer: No.) Or is it more than that? (Likewise obvious answer: Yes.) Like any type of human behavior, it is always a complex situation and answer. (I bet you didn’t see that coming. Oh, boy.)
Okay, this is the way I see it. Here are the main reasons we buy anything, whether we’re talking about a car, a stereo, computer, musical instrument, or camera:
1. It gets the job done and that’s it.
2. It makes it easier to do the job.
3. It does a better job than other tools.
4. It creates an enjoyable experience in and of itself.
5. It makes me feel better about myself or increases my prestige.
For myself, getting a new camera is probably a mix of reasons 2 and 3, with a tiny little bit of 5 thrown in. Honestly, shooting with a 6-MP SLR sometimes makes me feel a bit out of the loop, although I can’t really complain about the results I get. Well, I’m trying to deal with these feelings. I’ll let you all know how this all turns out. Cheers.
This isn’t a full review, but I wanted you to know about this exquisite new documentary, “The Eloquent Nude” by director Ian McCluskey. Charis Wilson was the subject and model for some of Edwards Weston’s most famous nude studies. She met him when she was 19 and he was 48. First she posed for him, but eventually they fell in love and later married. They became partners in his photography when she wrote the journal entries for his famous Guggenheim trip exploring California. “Eloquent Nude” is a documentary about Charis Wilson and her relationship with Weston.
At the time of the filming, Wilson was 91 years old, physically frail and mostly blind, but still filled with the same fire and strength of intellect she had when she met Weston. The interviews with Wilson are sometimes insightful and spirited and at other times turn wistful and poignant. It’s easy to still see the person that inspired, encouraged, and contributed to one of the greatest photographers of the 20th Century. “Eloquent Nude” provides much needed context for both Wilson and Weston, their relationship, and those early years of photography. The recreations of their photography sessions and trips with actors portraying Wilson (Christine Bernsten), Weston (Barrett Rudich), and Ansel Adams (Eric DiIlio) are fascinating and, speaking as a photographer, mostly authentic.
If you get the chance, please see “The Eloquent Nude.” At the moment, it is playing in extremely limited release, but should eventually be released on DVD. Bear in mind, however, that because of the subject matter and the actual Weston photographs, there is full-frontal nudity in this documentary, though it is never salacious or gratuitous. If you get the chance, don’t miss this documentary. It is a beautiful and sensitive film about a fascinating and dynamic woman.
For more information about the documentary and upcoming screenings, click here.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Click here to download Lens Work III.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Photographs by Craig J. Barber, Umbrage Editions, 2006
Craig J. Barber was a combat marine during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. In creating the series of photographs for this book, Ghosts in the Landscape, he went back to Vietnam three times during the years 1995, 1997, and 1998. For Barber, it was the chance to lay these revenants of war to rest, to deal with the memories of what happened in that place and bring closure to what happened to the people he knew and to those he left behind. Vietnam continues to be touchstone for an entire generation of Americans. Writers, poets, filmmakers, and artists have all tried to process the experience of that war in order to make sense of it all. This is Barber’s attempt to do the same. The photographs function as memorials to his memories of war, but they also function as tributes to the land and people of that country that survived after the war.
Before getting to the book, the first aspect to know about Barber’s photography is that his cameras don’t use lenses exactly; they use pinholes. A pinhole is a very tiny hole that is drilled in a metal sheet which functions as a lens, in that it’s able to focus the light into an image and project it onto film or paper. Because the tiny hole also acts like a very small f-stop, the image it creates has tremendous depth of field. In fact, most pinhole photographs have universal depth of field—everything is in focus. The consequence of this is that exposure times tend to be very long because pinholes don’t let in very much light, sometimes lasting several minutes or longer even in bright daylight. This produces interesting motion effects in the images; objects that don’t hold still are recorded as blurs and streaks of movement. The second thing to know about Barber’s images is that his prints are platinum prints, which accounts for the softer look and brown tones. Platinum prints are especially good at rendering subtle light values, while maintaining rich darker values. To the viewer, platinum prints have a nostalgic look about them, which can complement some subjects. In the case of Ghosts in the Landscape, they work very well.
The images in Ghosts in the Landscape are presented as diptychs and triptychs, that is, each image on a page consists of two or three separate images that function as one long panoramic image. This results in a slightly disjointed feel to the images, almost disorienting, where you see elements that should continue, but don’t—like memories that are missing details out of the middle of the experience. Some elements are duplicated in both images; others are left out. The people found in these haunting photographs take on the aspect of faded memories, as if they are people whose very shapes are beginning to shred and disperse due to the passing of time. Of course, this effect is because of long exposures and the inability of the subjects to hold still, but they also serve as a comment on the nature of memory. The landscapes are melancholy and contemplative, darkened at the corners as if your view has been restricted, allowing you to examine only what Barber wants us to see, which is only what he wants us to remember from his journey. And indeed, memory seems to be overriding theme in this book. Barber is dealing with his memories of the war and reconciling those memories against the reality he encountered when he went back to Vietnam. His images are luminous and beautiful with a keen bittersweet edge to them. They are meant to be slowly and patiently taken in a bit at a time, as much as any painful memory should be handled.
Ghosts in the Landscape can be purchased at: http://www.photoeye.com/.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
"Pearls Before Breakfast" by Gene Weingarten
"Pearls Before Breakfast" functions as a cautionary tale for photographers because of the importance to pay attention to what is around us at all times. Whether you call it being present in the moment or achieving full engagement in the world, it is part of being a photographer, or any artist for that matter, that requires us to be aware. To see. To interact with the world. In your own lives, don't miss out on the "Joshua Bells" that present themselves to us. Sometimes these opportunities won't repeat themselves.
Speaking of missed opportunities, the always excellent photographer/writer Ctein wrote a poignant story called, "The Worst Photographic Mistake I Ever Made," for Mike Johnston's blog, The Online Photographer. That posting is definitely worth reading, but in general I highly recommend this blog for worthwhile content. It's one of my favorites.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
In the coming days, the Focus on Photography blog will be the place to come for news and insights on the art and practice of photography. I might also include non-photographic content once in a while, like film and DVD reviews and even a music CD review. Check in on a regular basis, as I will try to update this as often as I can. See you soon.