Monday, June 17, 2013

Photography Week in Review - June 10-16

I hope you had a great week; it was an interesting week in the world of photography with a few product launches, more Kodak news and of course new episodes of my favorite podcasts.  Here’s your photography week in review for June 10-16.

Leica releases new camera 
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Leica was going to be making a new product announcement.  Well, June 11 came and went and there is now a new camera in Leica’s line up.  It’s called the Leica X Vario.  Leica had been teasing the product as a “Mini-M;” however, it’s not a new M series camera.  It was simply modeled after the M.  The X Vario is a compact camera with a f/3.5 autofocus zoom lens that also allows you to record full-HD video.  The camera was not a favorite among the Leica fans I follow on Twitter.  What do you think?  Read more about the X Vario here.
Lomography goes the DIY route with the Konstrucktor
While we’re on the topic of new product releases, Lomography released their newest camera.  They had been teasing it for the past few weeks and my guess was that it was a 35mm SLR system.  Well, I was close.  It’s actually a DIY 35mm camera.  Lomography is touting it as the world’s first DIY 35mm camera and they’re marketing the educational benefits of assembling your own camera, allowing the "builder" to truly learn about the analogue photography process. The camera takes 35mm film, has an unbelievably slow  50mm f/10 lens with a shutter speed of 1/80 sec.  It has multiple exposure function and focuses from .5m to infinity.  The surprising thing about this camera is that it’s only $35.  The initial results from the camera are fairly sharp and are missing the major light leaks or other quirks usually associated with Lomography’s product line.  It will be interesting to see the results once more individuals get their hands on the camera.  Learn more about the Konstrucktor here or pick one up here.
Kodak Stopping Production of Film Acetate Base
From product launches to product discontinuations.  Last week, Kodak announced that it was discontinuing the in-house production of cellulose acetate which will result in the cutting of 61 jobs.  Kodak has been in financial troubles for awhile and sold off it’s film division earlier this year.  They’re trying to emerge from bankruptcy as a leaner company with the ability to make a profit, but as it stands right now, I don’t see how they can be successful with the product line they’ve chosen to stand behind.  Kodak claims that they will continue to produce film and that they’ll be looking at external suppliers for the film acetate base once they run out of existing stock.  I like a few of Kodak’s film stocks, but at this point, I want to support a company, like Ilford, that truly believes in film.  Read more about Kodak’s changes here or here.
FPP Releases New Podcast
One group that will always support Kodak for as long as they’re around is the Film Photography Project.  They just released their second podcast of June and this time they’re joined by long time listener and contributor Darren “Pancho Ballard” Riley and his new wife Rebecca.  John Fedele and Leslie Lazenby also join the podcast and topics such as scanning film, New York street photography and listener letters are covered.  Check out the podcast and show notes here.
Pdexposures Intermission
It’s officially not a photography week in review post if I don’t mention the Pdexposures gang.  They released their fourth “Intermission” podcast and this time the topic is the Pdexposures meet-up that took place in Seattle back in May.  Nate brought along a mic and recorder and recorded interviews with some of the participants.  Check out the intermission here.
Weegee’s Birthday
Weegee, born Ascher Fellig, was a famous press photographer in the ‘30s and ‘40s.  He  was mostly known for his gritty, black and white, crime scene work from the Lower East Side of New York. He was a member of the famous New York Photo League and was ahead of his time in marketing himself and his photographic style.  Luckily, for us, his archive of 20,000 prints, negatives, tearsheets and other memorabilia were donated to the International Center of Photography and have went on to produce several outstanding exhibitions and books.  June 12 was Weegee’s birthday and to celebrate, look up his work and admire it.  You can find it here.
Margaret Bourke-White’s Birthday
Weegee wasn’t the only famous and ground-breaking photographer that celebrated a birthday this week.  June 14, Bourke-White would’ve been 109 years old.  She is best known for three things:  (1) the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry; (2) the first female war correspondent; and (3) the first female photographer for Life magazine.  She died of Parkinson’s Disease in August of 1971, but her images left a lasting impression.  One of my favorites is “Kentucky Flood.”  What about you? See more of her work here.
50 Most Influential Photographers of the Past 10 Years
I don’t have a lot to say about this specific news item.  I came across this article from one of the individuals I follow on Twitter.  It’s a slide show (with a small write up) of the 50 most influential photographers in the past decade.  The article was featured on the mobile site of the men’s magazine Complex.  The list is certainly pushing the boundaries of what is defined as photography, but even without knowing half of the names on the list, I’m going to give their work a longer look.  You never know where inspiration will come from.  What do you think about this list?  Check it out here.
Negative Viewer App for the iPad
I happened to come across another cool app this week.  This specific app is for the iPad.  It’s relatively simple, as it turns your iPad into a tablet sized light box.  Thus, providing you with an easy way of viewing and evaluating your negatives.  I haven’t actually tried it yet, but it’s free, so how can I not download it?  it will be the cheapest light box that I’ll ever find.  Check it out here and here.
That does it for this week.  Get out there and shoot and I’ll see you all next week.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Process - Part Three

Welcome to part three of my creative process blog series.  In this installment, I’m going to start diving into the details of my particular process, which is why I started this series in the first place.  Now that I have two posts under my belt, I hope you’re on the road to a more creative place with photography.  You’ve begun to look at photography as art, you’ve started to develop your creative eye by working a scene for all possible ways to photograph a subject and you’ve decided to shoot as often as you can.  But, how do you start creating photography that will set you apart from other photographers?

Every photographer starts by photographing what is interesting to them.  This subject matter eventually becomes a type of comfort zone.  This helps to develop a style and a body of work; however, as with all comfort zones, we need to move out of them in order to grow.  That’s not an easy thing to do, especially in photography.  One way to step out of that comfort zone and expand your photographic style is by shooting a subject or style of photography that you’re not typically known for.  If you’re a landscape photographer, try shooting portraits; if you’re a nature photographer, try shooting urban and cityscapes, etc.  Try bringing your creative eye (from your preferred style) to this new subject; this will allow you to start distancing yourself from other photographers, further cultivating your vision.  This activity won’t be the only thing you need to achieve this.  There is a component of photography that is truly unique; something that no one can duplicate no matter the amount of effort or the opportunity.  That singular component is inspiration.  Inspiration can be defined as the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. Only you can interpret how your intellect or emotions are moved at any given time.  Even if two artists are inspired by the same thing, the inspiration touches each artist in a manner truly unique to them.  

Start opening yourself up to inspiration.  We come in contact with hundreds, even thousands of things during our daily routines.  How many times do we actually stop to absorb a potential inspiration?  If we do, do we try to focus on that while we shoot or even use it for a future project?  We almost always continue about our days and forget that moment or sudden source of inspiration.  If you’re waiting until you get to a photo shoot to be inspired then you’re waiting entirely too late.  Use any inspiration that you come in contact with as part of your work.  It could be food, literature, film, music, art, other artists, other photographers, your surroundings, a family member, a friend, nature; it could be anything.  We wake up to a world of inspiration surrounding us, we just have to open our eyes to it.  
I’ve been trying to tap my creative side as a photographer for the past couple of years now.  I’ve done everything that I’ve suggested in this series of blog posts; however, I came across a piece of literature this year that has helped me expand my creative thinking.  I was gifted a book on the creative process that I highly recommend.  It’s written by an actor, writer and creative director from Minnesota named Blaine Hogan and the book is entitled Untitled:  Thoughts on the Creative Process.  By no means is this book mind blowing (at least not for me), but I did take substantial notes and it really has helped me to further develop my ideas (either photographic or marketing related).  One suggestion that Hogan provides is a process that he likes to call “scratching.”  This process is a time set aside to gather and collect ideas that will be used at a later date.  Hogan uses music; he pulls five or six eclectic songs from his music library and listens to them on repeat.  He then writes down any thoughts, ideas, feelings or emotions that come to him while listening to those songs.  It doesn’t matter if these things are fully fleshed out; what matters is that he was inspired or interpreted a specific thought or emotion and he wrote it down.  Those scratching exercises always help generate project ideas in his role as creative director.  Listening to a small music playlist may not be the way for you to generate ideas or draw inspiration that can be used in your photography; however, you can find an activity that does work for you.  It boils down to interpreting the inspiration that surrounds you on a daily basis and cataloguing it for future use.  The cataloguing is almost as important as gathering the inspiration, but I’ll get into that for my next post.  
Get inspired and I’ll be back with more on the cataloguing process in the next post!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Photography Week in Review - June 3-9

Welcome to the first full week of June.  It’s hard to believe that we’re to the halfway point of 2013.  It’s almost officially summer and that usually means additional shooting opportunities.  Here’s hoping you’ve been able to get out and shoot.  Now, onto the Photography Week in Review for June 3-9.
Mat Marrash Print Sale
I’m a big fan of Mat’s work.  Not only is he extremely talented, he’s also a great teacher willing to share his knowledge.  Mat is also willing to lend a hand to other artists in need.  Lauren Bagley, a brilliant illustrator, was the victim of a massive hardware crash resulting in the loss of her PC and tablet.  Mat’s hosting an “emergency print sale” for three of his most recent large format prints.  All proceeds are going to Lauren to help get her back up and running.  This is a great opportunity to own some of Mat’s beautiful work and help another artist.  Learn more and buy prints here.
Ringo Starr Photography Book
While on the subject of prints for sale, Ringo Starr is set to release an e-book titled “Photograph” this week.  The book features never before seen photographs of The Beatles and is being released in conjunction with the Grammy Museum’s exhibit, “Ringo:  Peace & Love.”  The book will be available in physical format in December.  Read more about it here.  
Japan Camera Hunter Zine and Book Feature
I talked about the Japan Camera Hunter site a few weeks ago.  This week he posted a little write up regarding a few self published zines and books that he received in the mail.  He’s definitely a fan of this format and has decided to do a feature on them (potentially once a month, depending on the number of submissions he receives).  This is a great opportunity to get your work seen by a much bigger audience.  Read the post and learn how to submit your zine or book here.
British Journal of Photography Article on Creative Peak/Decline
This article can be summed up by a quote from one of the individuals that was interviewed for it:  “How do photographers keep their work fresh in the face of - “probably the greatest taboo subject of all” - creative decline?”  The issue is now on newsstands and features exclusive interviews with photographers aged 19 to 100 and how they keep their work fresh as they age.  It’s a great read, so I highly recommend picking up a copy.  Additionally, it’s nice a companion to my ongoing series about the creative process.  You can read highlights from the article here.
Lomography Releasing a New Product
Based on their great marketing and product packaging, Lomography likes everyone to believe that they have the perfect tools for keeping your creativity as a photographer alive.  Love them or hate them, they do a great job of promoting analogue photography.  In that vein, they’ve been teasing their brand new mystery product this week.  They’ve released four clues regarding the product they’re set to announce in a few days.  Based on the clues, my early guess is a SLR system.  Guess for yourself here and stay tuned as the announcement is set for this coming week.
Ona Releases New Camera Bags
While I’m on the subject of new products, a camera bag company that I’m obsessed with announced a new line of bags for this summer.  Ona is a company with a simple vision:  To provide camera bags and accessories that complement your life and style.  I’m in love with their Union Street bag and I hope that I will have it as part of my gear soon.  However, that is not their newest bag.  They just announced a new line for summer.  Here are the gorgeous bags that have been added to their already stellar line-up:  The Leather Bowery, The Bolton Street Backpack, The Dark Truffle Leather Brixton, The Smoke Bowery and The Presidio Camera Strap.  Learn more about Ona here.
New Apps
I have a couple new apps that I wanted to share this week.  The first one was not necessarily released this week, but just came to my attention.  It’s called Shutter-Speed.  It’s an iPhone app that measures the shutter speeds of old cameras.  If you’re like me and you have a collection of old manual cameras, then this app is something that will definitely come in handy.  Unfortunately, as time passes by, the shutters of these old manual gems seem to slow, which can cause improper exposure of your film.  This app measures the shutter speed of these manual cameras using sound waves to mark the time when the shutter opens and when it closes.  I haven’t been able to test it yet, but I’m definitely intrigued.  Read more about it here and here.
The second app that I wanted to discuss was just released this week.  The VSCO Cam is a new mobile photograhy app that is like Instagram on steroids.  You can take images directly from the app, edit immediately after capture, add filters from their multitude of presets and share the image across multiple channels.  The interface is sleek and shiny and is due to attract many hardcore mobile photographers.  I downloaded the app but have yet to really play around with it.  Regardless, I recommend checking out their promotional video here and seeing what the app is all about.
Pdexposures Release Podcast Episode #11
It just wouldn’t be a week in review if I didn’t mention the Pdexposures gang, would it?  They released their 11th podcast episode this week and it’s all about instant film.  Nate, Tony and Simon discuss the evolution of The Impossible Project, Fuji Pack Film and Fuji Instax.  Would you believe that Tony is a fan of instax?  They’re back with their normal banter and they even include some instant photography book recommendations.  Check the podcast out here.  
That’s it for this week.  Stay tuned for part three in my creative process series (due to drop in no more than two days) and I have a few new images from a shoot last fall to post.  Keep shooting and have a great week!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Photography Week in Review - May 27-June 2

Upcoming Leica Announcement
There has been a lot of buzz this week about an impending Leica announcement.  The mysterious “Mini-M” is set to be announced on June 11.  There have been a few teaser images floating around this week.  See them here and here.  What do you think the “Mini-M” is?
Pdexposures Kickstarter Article and Intermission Challenge
It wouldn’t be right of me if I didn’t follow-up a Leica post with a Pdexposures post, right?  Nate from the Pdexposures team posted a great article on signing up for Kickstarters that you’re interested in early.  For one, the money won’t be withdrawn from your account for a specified number of days and that’s only if the project is successful.  Perhaps the best thing is that you usually have an early bird option to pick up the project at half of the cost of what it would be when it launches to the general public.  Read the article here and see what great deals Nate has gotten on some exciting projects.
Continuing on with the theme of saving money, Pdexposures released an intermission podcast this week featuring a new project/contest – The $20 Challenge.  The object is to buy a camera, a roll of film and have it developed for no more than a $20 bill.  Listen to all of the details here.  
Nashville Community Darkroom on Kickstarter
There’s currently a great community darkroom Kickstarter project in need of funding.  This is a project that was started by John Haubenreich, a lawyer and amateur photographer, and Katie Sampson, a recent graduate from Louisiana State University and professional photographer.  They have all of the items for a great analogue photography center in Nashville.  All they need is money for the building materials.  This darkroom project will serve as not only a working space, but a gathering place for like minded photographers as well as a community learning center for schools.  They also have a killer "Wes Anderson style" video to introduce the project.  The deadline for backing this project is June 19 and at the time of this post they were still about $16,000 from their goal.  Read more and back the project here.
Aperture Tremont’s New Issue of Anie
From one darkroom to another, it’s time to talk about the owner of Aperture Tremont’s most recent project.  Aperture Tremont is a photography variety store (as well as studio space, gallery space and community darkroom) owned by Scott Meivogel.  You can check out all of their film goodness here.  About a month or two ago, Scott and his constant collaborator, Anthony Zart, released a great analogue zine entitled Anie.  The first issue was great and the second issue is hitting the store and newsstands on June 1.  I highly recommend checking this out.  Pick up your copy here.
Light [ ] Squared Article on Shooting Both Analogue and Digital
There are a number of photographers that shoot both analogue and digital; I’m one of them (even though most of my output is analogue) and so is Scott Meivogel from Aperture Tremont.  Patrick J. Clarke, the creator of the blog Light [ ] Squared, produced a great piece this week about shooting both analogue and digital side by side.  He made some very valid arguments for carrying both cameras to the same shoot and it’s worth a read.  Check it out here.
KEH Expands Purchasing Hours
If the previously mentioned article has you itching to get some new gear so you can shoot both analogue and digital, the great used camera emporium, KEH, just expanded their purchasing hours this week.  The purchasing department can be reached at (770) 333-4220 or (800) 342-5534, Monday-Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST.  That’s three additional hours.  Visit KEH here.
International Photography Awards Deadline Extended
The International Photography Awards, a prestigious, annual, photography competition extended their deadline to July 15, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.  This is almost two additional months to get your best images ready to be seen by some of the most influential individuals in the photography world.  $22,500 in prize money is up for grabs in addition to the notoriety that winning can bring to your work.  Learn more or submit your entries here.
Ilford Obscura Pinhole Camera Gets Official Release Dates
I discussed this camera in my first week in review post and this week Ilford officially announced the availability of this camera.  It will be available next week in the UK; the second week of June for the rest of Europe; and the second week of July in the U.S.  Find out more here.
FPP Releases New Pod cast
The FPP gang were broadcasting again from Findlay, Ohio and this podcast features a brief overview of the upcoming Photostock Celebration, listener letters, Nikon F/Nikon F1 camera discussion/review, FPP gang featured on analogue photography blogs and a lengthy copyright discussion.  Check it out here.
Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Photography Staff
Perhaps one of the biggest stories and most shocking was the news that the Chicago Sun-Times laid off their entire full-time photography staff, including a Pulitzer Prize winner John H. White, due to the consumer shift towards online video.  According to Amar Toor of The Verge, the remaining editorial staff will be trained on iPhone photography, video and basic editing.  Running a photography blog, it's pretty obvious which way I lean in this discussion.  Regardless of the increased reliance on cell phone photography, the mobile photography art movement and the use of it in photojournalism, you can't replace the years of photojournalistic experience with reporters using iPhones.  The reporter's main focus is to get the story and crank out column inches; their mindset is different from the photographer trying to capture the essence of a story.  Sure, we live in the days of lean business tactics, but you can't honestly tell me that a reporter with an iPhone is going to generate the same quality as John H. White.  Read the New York Times article here, The Verge article here and the PetaPixel article here.  What do you think?
For Ohioans
The Cleveland West Art League, in conjunction with the Ohio Art League, is holding the "Cleveland Connection" Juried Exhibition.  Entries will be accepted June 1-July 5.  Learn more here.

Well, that does it for this week.  Keep shooting and stay tuned for part three of my series on process.