Thursday, October 16, 2008

Did the Camera Lie?

I've been looking for an explanation of this photograph since my son got home from work last night and told me about it. My first reaction was "Photoshop," but others have said no, it actually happened. I erased the overrun on the debate, so I couldn't check it. I also don't think that I saw anything from this angle during the debate.

Josh Olson had it up on his Facebook page and The Huffington Post had a slide show which included John McCain with his tongue equally far out of his mouth in several shots. I found this copy on a British news site. Josh assured me it was real, but he's in the fiction and entertainment industry. I used to be a journalist.

McCain appears to be slightly closer to the camera than Barack Obama is, which would account for the difference in focus. I suspect a VERY long lens was used and the point of focus was on McCain. It might also account for the distortion/fall-off in the out-of-focus script to McCain's right in the background and why the exposure for Barack Obama is soft and a little dark.

While John McCain is not my candidate of choice, I think that going with this image is rather sad. But who am I to talk? I once went out of my way to make the odious Phyllis Schafly look as arrogant and imperious as she came across when I photographed her for the Stanford Daily. I was uncomfortable when the paper went with that image, but I didn't loose sleep over it because it didn't turn her into a laughing stock. It just made her look dangerous, which, of course, she was.

If anyone hears anything about this photograph, I'd sure like to get the story.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Where Lost Photographs and Cameras Reside

Thanks to my friend Gillian Horvath, I'm sharing the link to I Found Your Camera. If you've lost a camera or a memory stick, this site is dedicated to reuniting you with your pictures. What a great idea. And what a lot of work.

When disasters hit, one of the first thing people grab before going out the door are family pictures. It must be incredibly frustrating to lose the pictures of some important event before you've even had a chance to look at them.

This is such a good idea, that I would encourage people to share the link.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Photojournalism Gone Wrong

There's been quite a bit of controversy about a photograph released purporting to show the launching of four missiles by Iran last week and news agencies have been tripping all over themselves to show that the image was actually doctored, as evidenced in the side-by-side photographs here:

As a photographer with a lot of years of experience, the first thing I've noticed is that the two photographs were not taken from the same location (look at the mountain ridge in the background) and that the missiles in one are not in the same position in the air as the missiles in the other. It doesn't take any effort to notice that the missile that is missing in the picture on the right has a strange color patch of sky behind it. This might not show up in newsprint, but it is incredibly evident in pixels.

These guys may have Photoshop, but they don't have a lot of skill with it.

Pictures do lie. They lied before the digital age, but they lie even more now. This is not good photojournalism, it is propaganda. I just wonder whose propaganda it is. Without access to the metadata on each of the frames, I don't have much opportunity to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Panoramic Imaging

I found a link to this panoramic photograph on Mark Evanier's website. It appears on the Detroit Free Press website. It's a 360 degree look at the stadium where Al Gore endorsed Barak Obama in Detroit. As the camera pans, you'll see a blond woman, close up, using about a 600mm lens. I'm pretty sure it is Annie Leibovitz. I'll bet she's covering the convention for Vanity Fair.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended makes the creation of a 360 degree image pretty much a piece of cake. As long as there is about a 20% overlap in the frame, you can make such a panorama by turning in place and clicking away (with a digital camera, of course.) You put the "stack" of images into Photoshop and it will automatically stitch them together to creat the panorama. I watched Seth Resnick do this with photographs including the waterway in Miami and even the water trails didn't give it away.

If you own a digital camera and CS3 Extended, it is not only a whole lot cheaper than renting a panoramic camera, it's a whole lot less cumbersome than setting one up. From the description in the caption, I think this image was made using the CS3 method rather than an actual panoramic camera.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

D65 in L.A.

I recently attended my second D65 Workshop here in Los Angeles. I found the first one so informative that I figured I could do with a tune-up and I was not disappointed. As with the first time, there were photographers from all over the country and some foreign countries as well. There were also some art directors. It was a really good group.

When I took the earlier workshop in January, 2007, we were working with an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom beta. The program was supposed to be released on the last day of the workshop, but it was delayed about two weeks. Once I was able to buy the program, I tried to set up things the way we had been taught. I clearly missed a few points, because my hard drive proceeded to fill up on me. One of my goals for attending the second workshop was to get things cleaned up. I think I've done a pretty good job of that.

I'm working on a MacBookPro. At the moment, I don't plan to get a desktop machine. I now have a 500 GB external hard drive dedicated to my Lightroom library and raw files. I've also got a set of portable hard drives which hold the original raw files by year. I haven't yet set up my back-up hard drive for the Lightroom Library and files and I need to buy another drive to hold my exported job filess, but I do feel like I've accomplished a lot.

Lightroom 2.0 is now in beta testing. I've got that on my computer as well. If you own Lightroom 1.0, you can download the beta and work with it until it expires in August; if you don't own 1.0, the beta for 2.0 will work for 30 days.

I'm quite impressed by the changes which look like it will have, but there's no guarantees. Seth Resnick and Jamie Spritzer, the D65 gurus, are writing a book based on using 2.0 in their workflow plan. We got a taste of it at the workshop, but we'll have to wait until October 1 to actually get the book. The 2.0 beta is scheduled to expire sometime in August, so my guess is that the actual program will be available for sale sometime around then.

As far as I'm concerned, photojournalists and news photographers will have no reason to use Photoshop once Lightroom 2.o is available. It does all of the fixes a good photojournalist should be limited to when using a digital darkroom. Even for photographers who are allowed the leeway to do a lot more retouching or changing, Lightroom 2.0 should meet most needs.

The library will hold a lot more images than the search engine for 1.0 permits. I've got about 18,000 in my library now, and I sometimes get the spinning beach ball.

I expect to spend a lot of time this summer working on key words and metadata for my older images. It will make things a lot easier to find in the future. I'm also planning to practice what I preach and get these images registered before I use them on the web.

During the workshop I took some wonderful pictures of my horse and some of the other horses at the barn which have good potential for licensing. I haven't been represented by an agency since my last agency went out of business last year, so I may start looking for new representation based on these pictures--or maybe I'll just plan on doing my own licensing. I've been so unimpressed by the way stock agencies work these days--I'm stuck in a mind-set that says an agency gets no more than 50% of he license fee. I don't think that Getty or Corbis deserve 83% of the much lower fees they seem to get for photographs these days.

I also don't understand why photographers are willing to sell themselves out for so little. Seth mentioned that magazine photographers are the only category of photographers who are actually making less money than they were 30 years ago. If you want to make money in photography, shoot weddings--if you can deal with the mother of the bride or bridezilla herself. I never wanted to, which is why I pretty much avoided carriage-trade work altogether.

Seth and Jamie do the D65 workshops all over the country, about one a month. The workshop isn't cheap, but I really do recommend it. It teaches a good, practical way of dealing with digital work flow and that is something worth learning sooner rather than later. You can link to D65 from the list on the right side of this page. The other nice thing about doing the workshop is that there is a D65 Yahoo group, so I am part of a daily discussion about workflow, and the group includes people at Adobe who are very interested in what professional photographers think and how they work, in order to make the program more responsive to photographers' needs.

June 20 Program on Copyright and Trademark Issues

I'll be giving an overview of copyright and trademark issues concerning visual artists next Friday, June 20, for the Simi Valley Art Association. A couple of their members attended the program I did at Continental Art Supplies earlier this year and invited me to speak.

The program will be held at the Community Room of the Simi Valley Public Library at 2969 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley, CA 93063. Admission is free to students with accompanying adults. Non-SVAA members donate $7 at the door. (Proceeds go to the art scholarship fund for high school students.) The room has capacity for 120 people, so ther's plenty of room. My presentation should start about 7:15 after the organization finishes some preliminary matters. There's plenty of parking and it's easy to find asw it is next to the city hall.

Programs like these give artists an opportunity to ask questions they might not otherwise be able to afford to have answered. They also serve as good opportunities to network.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp Weekend

I just got the following notice from APA LA about its upcoming workshops. Assisting is a great way to learn the business of photography. Many of the photographers I know, including myself, spent at least some time assisting other photographers. I had a friend in New York who, at that time, owned a light-rental business in addition to being a good shooter. He was able to connect me with advertising photographers in New York, where I assisted for about six months. I later rented my studio in the DC area to some of those same photographers for their out of town shoots. Assistants get paid better today, but they also need a whole lot more skills.

APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp Saturday May 3, 2008 With so many photographers seeking work, how can a photography student gain an edge? Until you can build a stellar portfolio and use it to market your photos, learn the business behind the business. Whether your goals include gaining more commercial experience or learning about being an assistant, this moderated panel of leading photography apprentices will provide the knowledge and confidence to send you in the right direction. We'll cover career opportunities and the ins and outs of getting hired in the industry. A good resource for film assistants, prop work and film crews. In this course, you can expect to learn:

Insight into industry expectations Identifying potential markets Effective communication and marketing strategies Whom you should know and how to develop a professional relationship Whom to contact to get hired What is expected of you when you are hired, & how to get paid for your work Managing self-income taxesWhat not to do, and things to look out for Demos of various lighting, camera and grip equipment In addition each participant will receive a copy of the APA/LA Assistant Handbook Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
Early Registration: (on or before May 1, 2008) Free for APA/LA Assistant ($125 Annual Fee) Student Members ($55 Annual Fee)
$60 Non-members

Late Registration:
$10 APA/LA Assistant and Student Members
$70 Non-members
* Black Book Raffle * The Black Book will be raffling off a FREE 10 Image Online Portfolio. Our website focuses on the work of the artist. This is your chance
to showcase your portfolio to the industry's best.
Photo Assistant Training 101 Sunday May 4, 2008 9:30 - 5:30pm (registration & breakfast: 9:30 - 10:00am) Anthony Nex Studio 3221 Hutchinson Ave Los Angeles, CA 90034 Attendance is limited to 20. Register Now!
(Prerequisite: attendance at APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp (2007 or 2008)

APA/LA is proud to present our new full day Photo Assistant Training course in conjunction with out Assistant Boot Camp. In this course, held on Sunday May 4th attendees will be able to participate in HANDS ON instruction and demonstrations in a more intimate atmosphere allowing participants to have the opportunity of handling the gear under direction and supervision. Basic lighting set-ups will be discussed in length and you will have the opportunity to take notes and draw diagrams. TIME PERMITTING, participants MAY be able to shoot a few frames for your records and note taking.

This course will cover:

Light modifiers: assemble and disassemble soft boxes, umbrellas, etc.
Light meter: work with a light meter
Light control: flags, nets, cutters, etc
Tungsten: hot lights and fresnel
Strobes: assemble different brands of strobe gear
Stands and Grip: work with a cstand and other grip equipment
Travel: what to expect, packing and preparing
Attitude: proper set etiquette
Marketing: ideas old and new
Syncing strobes: in studio and on location
Seamless: set up a seamless and background
Your Assistant "kit": tools for problem solving to make your job easier and help you shine.

What to bring:
Your light meters and SLR cameras (film or digital). (optional)
Pen or Pencil
Admission: Breakfast and Lunch are included

APA Members - $99
Non Members - $149
Register Now!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Copyright & Trademark Lecture

The California Lawyers for the Arts called yesterday and asked me to give a talk on "Copyright and Trademark Basics for Visual Artists," something I could probably do in my sleep since I've done so many of them. I went off to law school to help other creators. It turned out to be a lousy way to make a living, but I do really like to educate creators to help themselves. This was an easy yes, since I don't have to take on any clients from it.

This free brown-bag lunch event is at Continental Art Supplies, 7041 Reseda Boulevard, Reseda, California on March 17, 2008. On-site registration is at 11:15 a.m. and the talk is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call California Lawyers for the Arts at 310-998-5590 or e-mail them at Space is limited to 25 people.

California Lawyers for the Arts is a terrific organization and every artist should join (dues are a pittance) and take part in the many free or low-cost programs they offer, including lectures, workshops, lawyer referrals, and seminars.