Photography and art news, reviews, and views. I'm the author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Canon EOS Digital Cameras and a long-time photographer, writer, and amateur sketcher.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The New Photo Book Market
Traditional photo book publishers have been screaming about the change in their market and how it's so tough to make a buck anymore. But in this interview that photo director and blogger Rob Haggert does with Radius Books publisher Darius Himes, you get the sense that while the market has changed, it's opened doors for a lot of new, smaller publishers. The problem, I suspect, is that it now becomes next to impossible for photographers to make a buck directly off their books, which means they have to change their business models. Unfortunately, such are life and its version of black comedy, economics.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Two Freebies from O'Reilly
O'Reilly Media, a publisher of technical books and, more recently, titles on photography, has two free offerings. One is a webcast on Thursday, June 26, 2008, with photographer Rick Sammon, who will discuss "10 Key Ingredients for Cookin' Digital Photographs." Pre-registration is necessary and space is limited.
The other is a video podcast - 101 Photoshop Tips in 5 Minutes - by Deke McClelland, who does a fast-paced short music video that literally is about Photoshop tips. Some people will do almost anything as marketing. The link is supposed to be here, but when I tried, I got an error message that the site was "unable to forward this request at this time." Maybe their server was taking five after sweatin' to the oldies...
UPDATE: Here's a link that works.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Non-Art Art Photography Exhibition
The Village Voice has an interesting article on an exhibition, at New York City's International Center of Photography, of the work of commercial photographer Bill Wood. A Fort Worth, TX-based photographer, he did general commercial work that eventually found its way into the hands of collector Diane Keaton, who actually had them basically packed away for 20 years until she really looked at them.
What I found of particular interest was the ambivalence that Keaton and the writer have toward the photos. They aren't "art" - he's not "another overlooked or local genius on the order of Mike Disfarmer or Weegee," as writer and curator Marvin Heiferman puts it. But as the article's author Martha Schwender notes, they are striking. Yes, there is the danger of a social equivalent of Sergei Eisenstein's theory of montage, in which a scene in a movie can take on different meanings based on the context. Taken out of the original commercial context, these photos might take on the sense of commentary on values and mores:
But there's something that makes me hesitate at viewing these photos through the filter of our current standards, either for fashion or political correctness. This is not out of charity because Wood (essentially a good ol' boy who was born and died in Fort Worth) never "rose" to the level of Frank's or Winograd's distanced critique. Nor is it out of nostalgia, a longing for a time when the U.S. was at peace, and businesses (like Wood's) were owned and operated by individuals rather than conglomerates, and development, to people living in the vast American West, meant prosperity rather than destruction. Instead, it's partly because Wood's images of Americans smiling in their uniforms, offering a quick product demonstration, receiving congratulations, or finally getting sick and lying in their coffins, were taken by a fellow striver.I'm likely to be in the New York City area at some point in the near furture, and this show at the ICP seems like one worth catching. If Bill Wood fails to interest, there are two other exhibitions that look promising: Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan and Arbus/Avedon/Model: Selections from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Indian Art Buyers Take to Photography
According to this story from IANS (Indo-Asian News Service), art collectors in India are starting to hold photography in higher regard:
Classical art photographer Aniruddha Mukherjee feels that photography as an art stands out because it captures 'time and space' and yet transcends both at the same time through abstract touches, play of light and intelligent studies in colour.Although most of the sources in the story are either photographers or sellers of photography - which would make them all people with axes to grind - Mukherjee is interesting because he started as a portait painter, but found that the cost of all the labor going into a portrait was "a bit too steep" for most buyers. However, a portrait photographer can still get a "classical portrait" while charging a lot less. Another source in the story, photographer Ajay Rajgharia, noted that photographs are a tenth the price of a painting. And so, photography still remains the literal poor cousin of canvas.
'There are very interesting things happening in photography in India. A group of photographers (Atul Bhalla for instance) are adding experimental layers to their photographs to make it more attractive to buyers as collectors' items. They are going beyond conventional photography,' Mukherjee said.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Is Edison Murder Charge a "Phone" Phoney?
Update at BottomA patent email list to which I subscribe (I often write about intellectual property) had mentioned an article that appeared in the magazine Materials Today about the alleged murder of the real inventor of movies, Louis Le Prince, who was the first to record moving images on film. But on reading "evidence" that
Author Atreyee Gupta reports on research by a University of New York graduate student, Alexis Bedford, who supposedly claims to have found evidence in Edison's own handwriting that he at least had knowledge of LePrince's murder:
As Bedford relates it, he was turning over some papers on Thomas Edison's work with lighting methods when he stumbled across a dilapidated leatherbound book. The book would turn out to be one of many notebooks in which Edison was fond of jotting down ideas and test data. "Leafing through it," explained Bedford, "I merely thought I'd find perhaps some interesting and as yet unknown processes that Edison had tried in the laboratory. I never thought I would stumble upon this!" He had found a small entry dated September 20, 1890 by Edison's own hand which read, "Eric called me today from Dijon. It has been done. Prince is no more. This is good news, but I flinched when he told me. Murder is not my thing. I'm an inventor and my inventions for moving images can now move forward."Supposedly Bedford was granted permission to get the document authenticated by historian Robert E. Myre at New York University, who eventually said that it was an authentic entry in Edison's own hand.
But this startling story could well be a fake. Look at the language "Eric called me today from Dijon." In 1890? The first transatlantic telephone call happened in 1918. In the parlance of the time, he might have been "cabled" or someone might have "telegraphed," but not called. Next: "Murder is not my thing." My thing? How 1960s/1970s can you get? Searching at nyu.org, I found a David Myre and a Greg Myre, but not a Robert E. I didn't find a listing for an Alexis Bedford, either.
I've got an email in to the magazine's editor and assistant editor and am interested to see if this item even ran in the publication, or whether the entire thing was faked from first to last. If by some chance it is real, I'll see if they can put me in touch with the author. But the longer I look at this, the farther I feel my leg being stretched.
Updated: 16-6-08, 1:07 pm ESTI finally reached Katerina Busuttil, assistant editor at Materials Today. Apparently the magazine had run a scientific writing contest. Here is what she said about this, the winning entry:
We cannot confirm it truth or false. But we thought it was a good piece of writing and we chose it as the winner. It was just a good piece of writing, which is why it won the competition.Although this is a peer-reviewed journal, because they treated the piece as pure opinion, they did not investigate its veracity.
Let's recap on the truth issue (which took one reading and a few checks on the web, plus some added telephone calls for additional checking):
- The first transatlantic telephone call happened 1918. This incident supposedly happened in 1890 and referred to a phonecall between France and the US.
- At the time, people would have referred to being cabled or telegraphed, not called.
- The research supposedly happened at the New York Library - presumably the New York Public Library. Yet the archives of the Edison National Historic Site - all 5 million pages - rest at Rutgers in New Jersey. According to the NYPL's web site, there are 64 collections that have a mention of "Edison," but none are collections of his papers
- Only an idiot would have written in his journal about his involvment in a murder conspiracy. Edison was no idiot.
- I've found no evidence of a Charlene Edmonds employed at the New York Public Library.
- There is no "University of New York," although New York University and State University of New York (SUNY) both exist.
- There is no Robert E. Myre employed at New York University, according to someone in the administration who looked up the informaiton. Because of legal restrictions, the person could not say whether an Alexis Bedford was enrolled as a graduate student studying chemistry and photography.
- I went to the suny.edu web site, checked online for the name Myre, and found no search results. Checking on Google, I looked for SUNY combined with either "Robert E. Myre" or "Robert Myre". The one match I got was for someone who graduated in 1962 and was in Sigma Phi Epsilon.
- The magazine cannot pass on the author's contact information, though said they would forward an email seeking to reach her.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Environmentally Friendly Developing
Monday, June 9, 2008
Memory Chip Field Test in the News
A woman who had forgotten her camera only to find it stolen when she went back to look for it found that the memory chip inside phoned home. According to the Associated Press story, Alison DeLauzon was on vacation in Florida when the camera went missing. But she had used an Eye-Fi SD memory chip that was Wi-Fi enabled. When the thieves walked by an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection, the chip sent back the pictures she had taken - and the ones the criminal duo, both employees at the restaurant where she had left the camera, took of one another. She did get the camera back. Talk about a lucky break for her ... and an unexpected marketing boost for Eye-Fi.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Technique: Photos and the Rain
Many photographers give up taking shots during inclement weather, and understandably, because they are concerned about their equipment. But you don't have to give up so easily. Keeping your camera and lenses safe is harder, yet not impossible:
- You can use an umbrella (a helper to hold it up is useful) or a tent to provide a protected spot and then shoot out of the protection. Before you start shooting, do check to see if wind is blowing the rain in toward what you think is the dry area.