Archive for Photographers

I’m a Photogrpher Not a Terrorist

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on Friday, January 22, 2010 by Miserere

by Miserere


This bold statement is the war cry of a movement started in the UK to educate the members of the public and law enforcement agencies about street Photography. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of photographers being harassed by police because they were taking photographs in public, and draconian measures have been taken in the UK to limit the rights of photographers. I’m a Photogrpher Not a Terrorist is trying to do something about it. Or at least make a lot noise.

If you are in or near London, UK, on Saturday, January 23rd, you might want to go to Trafalgar Sq. at 12:00 noon and let the British government know how you feel about their treatment of photographers. Check it out on Facebook too.

Addendum January 23rd, 2010

Thanks to Lawrence, who e-mailed me the BBC story: Photographers protest over UK terror search laws.

It seems like it was a successful demonstration in that the turnout was good, but nobody got hurt or arrested. The Guardian story reports 2,000 photographers protesting.

F-BoM May 2009: Pixelated Image

Posted in F-BoM with tags , , , , on Friday, May 1, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere


Featured Blog of the Month: Pixelated Image


Some people like writing, some prefer taking photographs. Some like both. Vancouver based David duChemin is one of the latter. From his e-soapbox at Pixelated Image he talks (writes!) about Passion, Vision, Dreams, Hope and, every now and again, Photography.

Dave duChemin

With passport stamps from countries in 5 different continents, travel photographer just doesn’t do him justice. It would be like saying Ayrton Senna was a pretty good chauffeur. David doesn’t travel to take photos—I believe he travels to see…and taking photos is his way of making us see with him.

Dave duChemin

David is also a teacher, offering workshops in places as far flung as Ladakh (which is in Northern India, in case you’re wondering). But if you ask him, I think he would tell you he’s a humanitarian photographer, which is not a term you hear often. I was attracted to his work for World Vision, a charity organisation that my wife introduced me to as she has been sponsoring children through them for almost a decade. I have leafed through many of their brochures, never knowing that some of the touching, respectful photographs I was seeing had been shot by David. I’d like to think he appreciates this serendipity.

Dave duChemin

Make sure you check out his website too.

My interview with David duChemin.

All photos: ©David duChemin.

When Photoshop Is Done Right

Posted in General with tags , , , on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere


Note: To fully appreciate the photos in this article, please click on them to open up larger versions.

We’ve all seen them, pictures that have been saturated, HDR’d, stitched or airbrushed beyond recognition; sometimes even having all these actions perpetrated against them, such that all that remains of the original photograph are a few lost pixels on the periphery. It’s a free World (well, almost) and it’s your image, so you can do with it what you wish. Just don’t expect others to necessarily like it.

Peter Funch - Babel Tales: Screaming DreamerScreaming Dreamer

Once in a while I stumble upon a photographer who is able to use Photoshop techniques to the benefit of his art, rather than to its detriment. Peter Funch is such a photographer. In his series Babel Tales, Mr Funch shows us how he sees New York and its inhabitants. And what a view it is. With a great eye for magic corners and light, and a feather-light use of Photoshop, Mr Funch recreates scenes that are real…yet somehow not quite.

Peter Funch - Babel Tales: Secure SanctuarySecure Sanctuary

Much like Escher, he shows people marching around, and everything looks normal—until you pay closer attention. At this point you are hooked by Mr Funch’s magic.

Peter Funch - Babel Tales: Informing InformersInforming Informers

Of course, it is entirely possible that no stitching has taken place and that Mr Funch sat on a street corner for hours just waiting for every pedestrian to jump at the same time…but I doubt it. Whatever the case may be, it has no influence over the images themselves—they portray what they portray, which is Mr Funch’s vision, and that’s all I care about. It’s Art, period.

Catch the rest of the Babel Tales series at Peter Funch’s website, together with some of his other work. Or you may simply wish to start the Babel Tales slide show by clicking here.

Peter Funch - Babel Tales: Exigent State LowExigent State Low

All photos: ©Peter Funch.

Coming Soon to EtL: A Chain of Light

Posted in Chain of Light with tags , on Saturday, April 4, 2009 by Miserere

What would a chain of light look like? How many links would it have? How far would it stretch? These are all questions EtL will be trying to answer in the weeks, months and (hopefully) years to come.

EtL already publishes an interview with a photographer every few weeks. These are interviews of photographers that I or Peter find interesting, but the interviews forming part of A Chain of Light will focus on photographers chosen by other photographers. Here is how it will work: I have chosen the first photographer to be interviewed, who will become the first link in the chain. This photographer will then choose the next one to be interviewed, and so on and so forth, thus forming a chain of interviews that will hopefully weave itself across the globe and touch all photographic disciplines.

How long will this chain be kept growing? Hopefully for a long time. Needless to say, I’m very excited by this project.

In a few days I will be posting the first link in the chain. Stay tuned!

Update: Check out Link #1: Lida Chaulet.

F-BoM April 2009: Voltron of Awesomness

Posted in F-BoM with tags , , , , on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere


Featured Blog of the Month: Voltron of Awesomness


To paraphrase Clint Eastwood’s character in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, there are two types of wedding photographers—those who record events at a wedding, and those that make Art of them. Jeff Newsom is the latter.

Jeff Newsom

In his bizarrely-named blog, Jeff shares some of those wedding shots with his readers, as well as some other curious pics he might be working on in between wedding gigs. If you like talking about “looks”, then Jeff should become a topic of conversation at your next photography party. It’s not just the colour or heavy contrast, even his subjects have a definite Voltron look. How he achieves that with people that are not professional models, I don’t know, but I’ll be sure to ask him when/if I interview him. I’ll also ask him how he struck a deal with the faeries for photos such as this:

Jeff Newsom

There is also an underlying irreverence (which sometimes isn’t so well hidden, as in the pic below) that makes his photos seem fresh and cheeky. Oh, and did I mention that he loves his tilt lenses? If I were his significant other, I might get jealous. As it is, I am now pining for a tilt lens. Damn that awesome Jeff Newsom!

Jeff Newsom

All photos: ©Jeff Newsome.

You Gotta Know When to Hold Them…

Posted in General with tags , , , , on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere


…Know when to fold them,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.

So goes the chorus of the Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler. I’ve always thought there were plenty of Life lessons in that song, and I was recently reminded of it again while reading Annie Leibovitz at Work. Ms. Leibovitz recounts how Dorothea Lange told the story behind Migrant Mother, the portrait of migrant farmer Florence Owens Thompson and her children, which became her most famous photograph, and an icon of American photography. For those who will read the book, please note that Ms. Leibovitz places this story in 1938, when in reality it took place in 1936.

Dorothea Lange - Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother

After spending a month on the road in southern California she was finally heading home. It was raining and she was exhausted and she had a long drive ahead of her. She [Dorothea Lange] has been working up to fourteen hours a day for weeks and was bringing back hundreds of pictures of destitute farm workers. Somewhere south of San Luis Obispo she saw out of the corner of her eye a sign that said PEA-PICKERS CAMP. She tried to put it our of her mind. She had plenty of pictures of migrant farmers already. She was worried about her equipment, and though about what might happen to her camera in the rain. She drove for about twenty miles past the sign and made a U-turn. She went back to the sign and turned down a muddy road. A woman was sitting with her children on the edge of a huge camp of makeshift tents. There were maybe three thousand migrant workers living there. Lange took out her Graflex and shot six frames, one of them of the woman staring distractedly off to the side while two of her children buried their faces in her shoulders.

The image of the woman and her children became the most important photograph of Dorothea Lange’s life and the iconic picture of the Depression.

Dorothea Lange - Portrait
Dorothea Lange sitting on top of her car, the same year she made the U-turn that would put her name and photograph in history books.

We cannot be certain of many things, which is why we should follow our intuitions. We never know where they will lead us, but intuitions are the truest manifestations of our real feelings, and the simplest way we can allow ourselves to be…ourselves. Dorothea Lange wanted to fold them, but her intuition told her she should hold them. Needless to say, she was able to walk away, not run.

PS: If you’re wondering what happened to the migrant mother and her children, read here.

Justifying 15 Lies about Photography

Posted in Editorial with tags , on Sunday, March 15, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere


Some time ago I wrote a post titled 15 Lies about Photography. I thought I would explain why I consider each statement a lie.

You can fix it later in Photoshop
A bad photo is a bad photo. Sure, Photoshop can help you fix some exposure mistakes if you weren’t far from the mark, or remove a lamppost from the bride’s head, and maybe even paste in some open eyes if someone in a group blinked…but couldn’t all this be avoided if you were a better photographer? The only things you should have to fix in Photoshop are genuine mistakes, and the more practice you get with your camera the fewer of these you should make. Use fixing in Photoshop as a last resort, not a standard tool.

Long focal length lenses have a shallower depth of field
Nope, it’s all about the aperture. Let’s say you’re taking somebody’s portrait with a 50mm lens at f/4 and you stand 1m away from them (3.3 feet). If you wanted to take that same portrait with a 400mm lens you would have to stand 400/50 = 8 times further away in order for the subject to be the same size in the resulting photograph. I hope you’ll agree with me up to here. Now go to a DoF calculator and enter the values for these two situations. In the first you shoot that 50mm lens at f/4 from 1m away. In the second you shoot the 400mm lens also at f/4, but standing 8m away. You’ll see that the DoF in both cases is exactly the same. Hence, if the subject size in the frame remains constant, the only factor contributing to the DoF will the the aperture. (Please Note that different size films or sensors have different DoF, so the previous statement is valid only within a given film/sensor size.) CORRECTION: After some discussion in the comments section I went digging further and can now say that the above statement is only approximately correct. You can find the equations for calculating DoF here. They show that for high magnification, for example when working in the macro regime, the focal length has no impact on the DoF. Outside the macro regime, as magnification becomes smaller, the statement become falser (if that makes sense). In other words: As the distance to your subject increases, longer focal length lenses will have shallower DoF for a given aperture, when keeping the FoV the same. At portrait distances, my initial assertion is a good approximation.

Full-frame DSLRs are better than APS-C DSLRs
For what? Under what circumstances? At what cost? Despite what the media or some websites might have you believe, there is no such thing as the best camera—there is only the best camera for you. Your shooting style and your budget will determine what camera will be best for you.

Film is better than digital
This is true according to Ken Rockwell, but again, it all depends on what and why you shoot. If you want to make 16×20″ prints that have extremely high definition, then you should shoot an 8×10 film camera. If you want to take pics of your kids to e-mail to the grandparents, then probably film is not better than digital. Even Ken Rockwell said as you’ll learn when you finally get your digital SLR you’ll never want to bother scanning again. As of 2005 digital cameras allow most people to make much better images than film cameras. Yes, Ken did actually make these contradictory statements. It’s part of his charm.

Digital is better than film
Same reasons as above, except the other way around.

Film is dead
Not if you want to 16×20″ prints that are extremely high resolution (in which case you would use an 8×10 film camera). Have I said this before…? But in a sense, this actually isn’t a lie, because film is dead, but like you and I, it’s not going to die just yet.

Digital is dead
Again, according to Ken Rockwell, it is. Well it’s not. Sensor technology continues to advance with every year bringing lower noise, higher dynamic range sensors, while at the same time they become cheaper. Boys and girls, digital photography is here to stay.

I only take photos for myself
Sure. Tell yourself whatever you need to get through the SD card.

Real photographers shoot JPEG
I see a trend here. Guess who said that! Real photographers shoot whatever they damn well please, just like the rest of us.

The only way to make great photographs is by using the most expensive equipment (Corollary: you can’t make good photographs with a P&S)
Much of this assertion depends on how you define “great”. If a great photo is one of a football player stopped in mid action, then yes, you’ll need to spend many thousands of dollars. If a great photo is one that transmits an emotion to the viewer, then maybe you don’t need to spend that much. This photo was cheap to produce and it speaks to me. For me, it is “great”.

Miserere - Misty MorningMiserere – Misty Morning

I take pretty landscape and flower pictures, and that qualifies me to shoot a wedding
I do not wish to embarrass dozens of people on the internet, but I have read many horror stories of amateur photographers who agreed to shoot a wedding (usually for a friend) and showed up with their DSLR camera and kit lens. Then the next day they’re in the forums asking why their photos are all dark, noisy and blurry, and how they can fix them. There are many types of photography, and each require their own set of equipment, skills and techniques. Just because you’re good at one type of photography does not mean you will be good at another. Like Harry Callaghan said, a man’s gotta know his limitations. And that applies to women, too!

Real photographers don’t have websites
I’m not even going to comment on this one, but if there are any real photographers reading this, and they do have a website, please let me know!

The pop-up flash is useless
Only in the wrong hands. Use it as fill on those sunny days when you’re taking a portrait of your significant other and their face is in shadow. You’ll be happy you had it.

You need at least 12 megapixels if you plan to make 8×10 prints
I have made 18×24″ prints from a 6MP camera. They looked great. But mostly I’ve made 8×10″ prints from that same 6MP camera, and of course, they still look great. And it was a P&S; with files from a 6MP DSLR they would look even better.

Photography blogs suck
OK, maybe this one isn’t a lie…