Photographer David LaChapelle on voting

I saw a show on TV the other day about David LaChapelle and I started to take a liking to the kind of photography he is doing. Some digging around on his site turned up a couple of great videos about voting. The timing couldn’t really be better. So, everybody, get out and vote. It’s your voice.

See more LaChapelle videos here.

Classics documentary photographs, free at

Sometimes I’ll check the Library of Congress sit to see what’s in the digital photograph catalog, and recently I found some collections of photographs, texts, and recordings called American Memory which includes free digital files (jpegs and/or tiffs) of many well-known photographs, some of which are in the public domain. I printed out one on my Epson 2400, and the quality was great.

If you do a search for ‘Walker Evans’, click on ‘Gallery View’, you’ll get thumbnails of photographs he did while working for the Works Progress Admnistration, all of which are in the public domain. Ansel Adams’s photo essay on Japanese-Americans interned during WWII, is given an online exhibition. After reading Adams’s books on photography, it’s almost heretical to download scans of his negatives and print them out as I please. But, this particular work is in the public domain and, well, I can. Combing through ‘American Memory‘, I found that it’s an ok place for browsing, but if know what you are looking for, then head over to the LOC’s Prints and photographs online catalog. Search results turned up much more over there. Searches for other WPA photographers that also yield results are Dorothea Lange, John Collier, and Russell Lee.

A beautiful image of David’s tomb probably taken in the early part of the 20th century. (Sorry, but deep links just won’t work. Just search for ‘David’s Tomb’ here.)

Inkjet prints finally join the ranks of silverhalide and platinum, hurrah!

In the October issue of the Digital Journalist, Bill Pierce gives his take on inkjet prints, their acceptance in the art world and their archival quality. He mentions the recurring theme in photography of not wanting to accept a new medium, whether it’s inkjet printing today, or silverhalide printing decades ago. Then he goes on to the issue of collecting, and the fear that inkjet prints won’t be as unique as their predecessors and will only be mass-produced. That, he argues just ain’t so:

I understand collectors’ fears that an inkjet printer attached to a computer can turn out hundreds of soulless, identical prints at the touch of a button. That’s certainly one of the fears that surfaced when silver replaced platinum. And, indeed, if you ever saw one of the automated print houses that turned out actors’ headshots, it seems a bad dream that could come true. What protects the collector is laziness. You make an inkjet print and in spite of all your screen matching, it looks a little light. You make a darker one. It’s good, but now the shadows on the face are too dark. After awhile you’ve got six prints, each slightly different, and are bored to tears. You go to bed and hope you never have to print that picture again. Same as silver; laziness, that’s what protects the collector. Short of that, print a small edition and promise to be a good person.

Good point. It’s still work to produce fine prints, including inkjet prints.

See also my post on Henry Wilhelm and new inkjet printers or go straight to Wilhelm Research for reports on inkjet print permanence.

MAGNAchrome, mag for large/medium format photography

MAGNAchrome premiere issue, online mag dedicated to large and medium format photography. Download and print it out yourself.

Lee Friedlander spottings on the Web

Slate ran a small essay on Lee Friedlander last year that I just found. There are 9 photographs along with a short essay regarding each one.

On NPR, I found a short talk with Friedlander and record producer Joel Dorn talking about listening to gospel music when they were young, and the collection of gospel recordings they put together, called Simply Gospel. No surprise that a good photographer likes damn good music.

Martin Munkácsi retrospective, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Martin Munkácsi, a photographer’s photographer.

Berlin is a great city for photography exhibitions, and Martin-Gropius-Bau is the showplace for the biggest. In the past few years they have held retrospectives from photographers like Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and August Sander and an exhibition from the contemporary Robert Polidori. Currently, there is a Martin Munkácsi retrospective at Gropius-Bau.

What strikes me about the show is that, for someone who was so successful (he earned 100,000 dollars a year in 1940), few of his photographs have become icons. Here are three that I think are well known:

Of the photograph on the left, Henri Cartier-Bresson later said, “When I
saw the photograph of Munkacsi of the black kids running in a wave I couldn’t believe
such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and
went out into the street.”

Munkácsi was a news reporter and fashion photographer. Perhaps much of what he photographed belonged to a particular era, related to the famous personalities of the day, fashions, and the all the goings-on of society, and perhaps that kept his individual images from remaining well known. A thorough and hard-working photographer, his work leaves us with an impression of the esthetics of his age.

Looking at his photos, there is the strength of form, and humour. They are beautiful, perfectly framed, evoking a particular richness that’s rare.

Included in the exhibition are some quotes from Munkácsi, which reveal a brilliance not always attributed to photographers. In 1935, in an issue of Harpar’s Bazaar, he published some of his ideas on photography under the title, “Think While You Shoot,” revealing how rigorous a photographer he was. Here’s an excerpt:

Never pose your subjects. Let them move about naturally. All great photographs
today are snapshots. Don’t let the pretty girl stop to put her hair to rights. If Grandma
is sleeping, do not wake her. If Grandpa is reading his morning paper, don’t ask him
to lower it. If you get just his eyes over the paper top you may have a better portrait
than if you take his whole face. Take back views. Take running views. Our cameras
today allow us one-thousandth of a second. Pick unexpected angles, but never
without reason. Lie down on your back. Climb ladders. I have taken automobile races
in Germany, lashed to the side of a racing automobile. I have gone into a street
crowed with a false lens pointed at some harmless group of grinning school children
and the real lens focused hard on the unconscious victim.

He ends the explanation of his craft with:

My “trick” – is there one? Well, perhaps a bitter youth with many changes of
occupation, with the necessity of trying everything from writing poetry to berry
picking. These difficult early years probably constitute the sources of my modest
photographic activity.

(Right click to save the PDF from the exhibition, scroll down for English.)

And a survivor he was, along with other Hungarian photogaphers like Capa and Brassäi who left their native land, went to Berlin, and then onwards.

Other resources on the net:

Check in cameras with a starter pistol, for safety’s sake

If you can’t carry all your camera equipment on board, and are afraid of theives going through your unlocked luggage, then put a starter pistol in your lockable camera case when checking it in. All weapons (starter pistol included) have to travel in a locked case. A brilliant idea. Here’s the original comment from Matt Brandon’s blog that started it all:

“One note on using TSA rules to your advantage.

Weapons that travel MUST be in a hard case, must be declared upon check-in, and MUST BE LOCKED by a TSA official.

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols - those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets - are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.

I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.”

Also mentioned by Bruce Schneier, security guru, here.

Definitely, the TSA needs some system that would allow airline passengers to travel with expensive equipment (cameras, laptops) safely, in locked bags. We used to be able to lock our luggage to protect valuables, but now we can’t because the TSA may want to search through them, and that leaves valuables overly exposed to theft.

Putting together a slideshow with sound, or “Soundslides, Magnum in Motion, and the 95/5 principle”

How to make a slideshow for a 5% of the production costs compared to Magnum in Motion. After using iMovie to put together a slideshow on my Mac, I decided to go with a another solution—Soundslides (Mac and PC) for a few simple reasons:

  • Soundslides doesn’t tend to spit out huge files that need compression like iMovie does. Instead, it makes a moderately-sized flash file.
  • Soundslides produces a still slideshow from still pictures, and not a pixelated movie version like iMovie does.

That’s it. I really like the look and feel of iMovie, but the pixelated results are just cheesy.

Some disadvantages to Soundslides are:

  • Costs 40 dollars. iMovie is free with a Mac.
  • Can’t edit the soundtrack within Soundslides like you can in iMovie. You’ve got to make edits in a separate program, then re-import the sound as an mp3 file. I use Audacity (freeware) because it allows more than one project to be open at a time, (cool looking Garageband won’t), so that cutting and pasting form one file to the other is easy.
  • Can’t adjust slide transitions individually, like in iMovie.
  • No Ken Burns effect.

Here’s a Soundslides tutorial Martin Fuchs put together on his blog Journal of a Photographer.

If you really want to go all the way like Magnum in Motion does, then Apple Pro has a profile on how they do it over there, using Final Cut Pro, Quicktime Pro, and Flash. As for me, I’m glad to get 95% of what I want done at 5% of the cost and necessary skills with a program like Soundslides.

Joel Meyerwitz on street photography (video)

Recently, I’ve been looking around for videos of photographers on the net and I found this video of Joel Meyerowitz explaining how he goes about doing street photography. Meyerowitz, dressed like a cat burglar, black cap and all, black Leica in hand, weaves around pedestrians on a Manhattan sidewalk, clicking away. His snaps are then woven into the video, showing the results of his style of street photography. It’s sounds kind of funny, him talking about what he does to make himself ‘invisible’ so that he can go right up to people and photograph them without being noticed. But he’s right. You need to be at ease with yourself if you intend to photograph people on the streets. Otherwise, you’ll just make others uncomfortable. Video Link. Joel Meyerowitz’s site.

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Mcnamara at PopPhoto sez their lens tests are the best cause they use an optical bench. Consistent objectivity. I’ll keep that in mind next time I read a lens review.

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» PicLens toggles online images to fullscreen. For Mac (Safari only). Click on a picture from Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or image search, and get a fullscreen image instantly. Can then cycle through images in fullscreen mode.
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» Interesting NYTimes article on Jerome Liebling, photographer and filmmaker. Tribute to him tonight at the Museum of Television and Radio in NYC.
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» flickr and Google Earth mashed up. Wow.
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» Eddie Adams workshop report. That’s 50 photo students, and 50 young photo professionals all together for a workshop. Second year its all digital.
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» Alternative processes site. Argyrotypes, Bromoils, Gum Bichromates, Wetplate Collodions. Back to the roots. Go roots.
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» Wanyne Yang interview with Kitra Cahana on his blog, Eight Diagrams. She won 3rd place Picture of the Year. Go Kitra.
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» Weegee photo on cover of Time magazine. Big rear-end of an elephant. Go Weegee.
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» More sample M8 pictures on a Hong Kong Leica forum.
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» Photoshop LAB black and white conversion Martin Fuchs gives a nice explanation of his PS action (download is free). As good as it gets without buying a plugin.
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» Martin Evening reviews Adobe Lightroom’s develope module Quick update on what’s new in ‘Beta 4′. Go Martin.
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