Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Adjustments and Announcements

We may not have a classroom on Wednesday, April 25, so be sure to bring your cameras. My plan to give a quiz on Friday may be thwarted by a broken copy machine, but be sure to read the photography time-line in the book appendix anyway.

I was directed to an interesting web site/blog called "Shorpy" this morning. It has vintage photographs. The intention appears to be photographs in the 100 year old range, but there are many from more recent times including a selection from the FSA photographs of the Depression. You should check out the link I've added to this page.

APA/LA has announced a special event on May 10, 2007 entitled "There's Always Room at the Top: How to Get There and Stay There." Three photographers will speak, so it counts for the third writing project. One of the photographers is Doug Menuez, an absolutely wonderful shooter whose photographs documenting the rise of Silicon Valley has been acquired by the Stanford University Collection. Check out his website.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Digital v. Film & Harlan Ellison

Last night, I attended a presentation at the Writers Guild of America theatre premiering a cut of a new documentary film about writer Harlan Ellison, Dreams with Sharp Teeth. The theatre was packed, the film was terrific, and I didn't get home until about 2 a.m.

What does this have to do with photography? I photographed the event, starting with dinner at Pink's Hot Dogs beforehand, during the Q&A after the film, and even a few photographs of the reception and signing afterwards.

One camera, one compact flash card, one lens (traveling light.) The nice thing about digital is that I could change the effective ISO to reflect the different light conditions.

At Pinks around 5:30, with lots of white walls and overcast bright skies, ISO 200 (the lowest speed available to me) worked quite nicely. In the WGA theatre, where shooting with a flash was discouraged--it interferes with video cameras--I tried ISO 400 and moved up to ISO 1000 to try and stop motion. Harlan's always in motion. For the signing and reception, I relied on the in-camera flash on automatic, to allow for ambient light. I did, unfortunately, forget to adjust the ISO back down to 200. The photos will still come out, but they're not what I wanted. I expect quite a bit of "noise" at the higher ISO. In general, the best ISO is whatever is considered optimal for the camera (often the lowest ISO, but it would be the default for Auto settings--if your instruction book gives you that information.)

Next month, on May 22, Harlan Ellison will make an appearance at Pierce College as the first in our planned series "The Creative Voice." During the afternoon, he will meet with students and in the evening, at the P.A.B., students and the public will be able to attend his appearance at 8:00 (doors should open at 7:30, but the theatre only seats 370.) A reception is planned to follow the appearance and books will be available for sale. Harlan will sign books during the reception.

In his 50+ years as a published writer, Harlan has produced more than 1700 short stories, written for television and motion pictures, recorded audio books, hosted the radio show Hour 25, and appeared on numerous talk shows. He is one of the most honored writers of the 20th century, receiving Hugo Awards, Nebula (R) Awards, Writers Guild of America Awards, and Grandmaster Awards from both the Science Fiction Writers of America and the World Fantasy Convention. (Do not use the term "sci-fi" within his hearing.) A colorful personality who is in demand as a public speaker, we are privileged to have him appear at Pierce.

I would encourage all of my students to attend his appearances on the Pierce Campus. It will be a most memorable experience.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Passionate Photographer

This morning's Los Angeles Times ran an interesting article in Column One about Martin Schall, a German oil and gas engineer who has made yearly visits to Los Angeles for the past 11 years to photograph the architecture of the city. His website displays many of the images he has taken and he's gained a certain celebrity for his work. While professional architectural photographers would use large-format ( 4 x 5 or 8 x 10) view cameras, Shall's work is done on a 35mm equivalent digital camera (I assume the earlier work was shot on film) with what looks like wide angle lenses. Thanks to Photoshop, the tilts and swings of a view camera can be replicated in adjustments to small-format images and the photographs do not suffer from the kind of distortion (buildings falling backward, for example) that are often seen in 35mm architecture.

This article is a prime example of a photographer whose passion drives him on this very personal look at the city of Los Angeles. While he may not have intended to do anything more than make pictures he enjoys, the website has brought him all kinds of attention and opened other doors to him.