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The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 1

Just about a year ago Westcott expanded on its new wireless flash lineup that started with the FJ400 by offering new sizes and power outputs. After listening to user feedback, it launched the FJ200 as a more compact and travel-friendly light system… and it’s awesome.

This portable strobe is available as part of a one-light backpack kit that we took a look at as part of this Showcase, sponsored by Wescott. It includes several modifiers, the FJ-X2m universal wireless trigger, and a backpack that is capable of carrying it all as well as a personal computer and additional camera equipment.

I was super excited to test these lights because they really complimented my on-location shooting style. For me, it’s all about being portable and having the flexibility for fast initial setup as well as the ability to make quick changes while on set. Right out of the box, the FJ200 looked to be a perfect combination of those features.

Westcott FJ200 Backpack Kit Bag Contents

The FJ200 light offers up a 200Ws power that weighs only 2.53 pounds (with the battery and light stand mount attached) and can put out over 450 full-power flashes per full battery charge. If that isn’t enough to spark some interest, the backpack kit includes the FJ-X2m universal trigger, a five-inch 70-degree metal reflector, a 30-degree honeycomb grid that has a magnetic mount built to also hold gels (six are included with the bundle), a battery charger, a snoot and grid combo for even more creative lighting control, and the Westcott Rapid Box Switch Octa-S. All of this is packed neatly into the included backpack with plenty of room for a laptop, tablet, and several other personal items.

FJ-X2m Universal Trigger

Westcott FJ-X2m Universal Remote

One of my favorite things about this combo is the inclusion of the FJ-X2m universal trigger. This remote will work out of the box with Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony cameras, with only the Sony systems requiring an additional $19.90 hot-shoe adapter. While this may not be a big deal to most photographers, as someone who reviews a variety of cameras as well as often works with corporate clients who usually provide their own cameras on set, this makes it incredibly easy to always be sure I have the right remote for whatever system is in front of me; that is one less thing I need to worry about.

The trigger itself boasts a range of approximately 985 feet, has Bluetooth compatibility, and has a battery that can last for about 200,000 shots. Full disclosure, I have not been in a position to test the full range (distance and shot count), but from my short time with this light combo, it was able to hit every shot with ease. In addition to the above features, control-focused creatives will be pleased with the 16 channels and six groups available for precision light controls. Having worked with clients who need multiple looks with only minutes or seconds available, this control is very useful and allows me to quickly swap between setups to get different looks on the fly.

Modifiers And Accessories

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 2

There is no shortage of creative modifiers available for photographers with this kit. The tools included are useful for everything from product photography to portraits, with an included snoot and optional grid to create a tight beam of light useful for fashion and beauty work, rim lighting, and many more details.

Additionally, there is a silver reflector that is useful for enhancing the light out of the bare bulb. This reflector connects to a magnetic grid and gel holder where you can use any of your own gels, or one of the six provided with the kit, all magnetically clamped into place. This holder can be used with or without the grid for additional control of the light spread for creative shooting.

FJ200 Snoot without Grid

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 3

Fj200 Reflector and Grid / Gel Holder

If space is an issue when transporting the light between shoots, the light mount of the FJ200 can be detached and stored separately, which frees up more space when it is needed for smaller bags, or allows you to fit the light in a pocket while moving. The mount itself also has a slot for connecting an umbrella and can tilt 180-degrees.

Lastly, we have the Rapid Box Switch Octa-S which sits in a lineup of modifiers that live up to its namesake. The RapidBox modifiers are some of the fastest softboxes I have ever used to set up and tear down, making them some of my favorites to use (I actually personally own three different Rapid Boxes for my location setups). The Octa-S is a 26-inch octabox that comes with a white diffuser that secures to the modifier with a few velcro panels, and they stay seated safely even in pretty windy situations when shooting outdoors.

Westcott Rapid Box Switch Octa-S Silver Interior

Rapid Box Switch Octa-S Setup with FJ200 Light

Each one of these modifiers can be quickly opened, set up, installed, and then removed to swap with another with very minimal effort, making them an ideal combination for photographers who have to move fast. The only trade-off with this speedy system is some of the materials can be broken if you are not careful. This won’t be an issue for most photographers as we tend to baby our gear, but keep in mind that a drop onto a hard surface could break the adapter rings or puncture the softbox materials a little easier than some larger, heavy-duty modifiers.

The FJ200 Light

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 4

The FJ200 light itself is small and lightweight and, as mentioned, is capable of dishing out 450 flashes at full power (200w) with a full battery, which takes approximately two hours to charge fully once depleted. Since the flash tube isn’t covered with a frosted glass layer, photographers will get a little more out of the flash power than other systems with the same power rating. The system has a recycle time of 0.5 to 1.3-seconds (with the latter being the full power output) which makes it one of the fastest 200 Ws lights on the market, ensuring its usefulness in action settings should the need to use High-Speed Sync (HSS) and freezing motion arise. The FJ200 can shoot with sync speeds of up to 1/8000 of a second, works with front or rear curtain sync, and can capture up to 20 frames per second (at reduced power of course).

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 5

The back of the light shows a large LCD panel that displays the power settings in large numbers with a few buttons on the back for controlling the test flash, turning modeling lights on or off, adjusting the power, and scrolling through the menu. The FJ200 even supports TTL should the need for quick setting changes present themselves. The side of the light has a USB-C connection for updating the firmware, and the opposite side has a sync cable port for wired shooting. The bottom of the light behind the mount is where the battery is housed, only slightly elevated from the system once connected.

It is also worth noting that the modeling light can be set to auto or proportional, which will match the output power of the flash so that photographers can get a preview of how the light will fall once popped, increasing or decreasing in intensity in proportion to the power output chosen to shoot with. Additionally, over the course of several long bursts of shooting, the color temperature showed no significant variation between bursts with a relatively consistent color temperature of 5500K.

Using The Light

For a lighting system as small and compact as the FJ-200, it was surprisingly versatile. I found it capable of creating dramatic portraits in a small studio and, perhaps even more impressively, it is strong enough to compete against the sun while using high-speed sync in an outdoor mid-day lifestyle shoot. The 200-watt system had a very fast recycle time, making it very easy to keep up with my model having a mini dance party on set, let alone the “actual” poses against the mid-day sun. The photos below are examples of where the strobe overpowered the sun, which is strong enough to blow out my model’s hair:

FJ200 Portrait Example

FJ200 Portrait Example

The way I typically shoot on an outdoor session is to back- and side-light my subjects with the sun and use the strobe to fill in any hard shadows or contrast zones to try and make it feel a little more natural. The FJ200 on its own is more than capable of achieving that look, and with its small size, it is even light enough easy to carry without an assistant in a rushed situation. With the way the light stand mount is designed, it is even possible to handhold the light while shooting (if needed) to get some quick guerrilla-style images in tricky locations.

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 6

The Westcott FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit is Seriously Great 7

FJ200 Portrait Example

Westcott FJ200 Lifestyle Portrait Daylight

FJ200 Portrait Example

Moving indoors for a studio setting, I found the FJ200 to be an ideal light for a small room portrait. Since I currently do not have access to a full-sized studio, working with the FJ200 makes it easy to shoot in tight quarters. For the images below, I simply propped up a V-flat and stool in my dining room and placed the strobe up nice and close to my subject to create a moody single light portrait. Looping back to how quick it is to work with these lights, I went from setting up to taking portraits in a matter of moments.

BTS of FJ200 Portrait

Male Model Portrait with FJ200

Male Model Studio Portrait 2 with FJ200 Strobe

The Westcott FJ200 Lights Are Just Fun To Use

I really fell in love with this system over the course of shooting with it. Given the low price of the FJ series of lights, the FJ200 One-Light Backpack Kit with Universal Trigger and Rapid Box Switch Octa-S stands out as a leader in its class for power, ease of travel, reliability, and affordability. While there may be more powerful light systems out there, the FJ200 kit offers a versatility and creative options for $749.


Welcome to a PetaPixel Showcase, where our staff gives you a hands-on with unique and interesting products from across the photography landscape. The Showcase format affords manufacturers the opportunity to sponsor hands-on time with their products and our staff, and lets them highlight what features they think are worth noting, but the opinions expressed from PetaPixel staff are genuine. Showcases should not be considered an endorsement by PetaPixel.

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Great Reads in Photography: November 21, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: November 21, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: November 21, 2021 8

Every Sunday, we bring together a collection of easy-reading articles from analytical to how-to to photo features in no particular order that did not make our regular daily coverage. Enjoy!


HBO Film Tells the Story of How Gordon Parks Changed Photography – The Guardian

Gordon Parks, a groundbreaking photographer who died in 2006, is the subject of A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks, a new HBO film by documentary filmmaker John Maggio.

From The Guardian:

In 1956, as the first Black staff photographer of Life magazine [worked for 20 years], he [Parks] traveled in and around Mobile, Alabama, on assignment to capture the realities of Jim Crow. He chose to shoot in color, aiming his lens at both the more vibrant and quotidian moments of Black American daily life: the church picnic, the trip to the ice cream shop, the hanging of laundry out to dry…

Aside from the mastery of Parks’s composition, each image had also captured prodding, daily indignities in minute but poignant detail – a young Black woman and her niece standing in their finest clothes, for example, standing below the blaring red neon of a “colored entrance” sign.

Embed from Getty Images

Maggio’s documentary moves through Parks’s rich photo essays on a Harlem gang leader, the segregated South, Muhammad Ali, and a boy in a Rio de Janeiro favela, as well as bold early work on Ella Watson, a janitor at the Farm Security Administration. A line is drawn from Parks’s legacy to the cultural narratives being charted by the current photographers Devin Allen and LaToya Ruby Frazier. – The New York Times

Read also: How Self-Taught Photographer Gordon Parks Became a Master Storytellers


Annie Leibovitz’s Enchanting New Book Showcases an Artist Who Changed Fashion Photography Forever — Vogue

Great Reads in Photography: November 21, 2021 9
Sean Combs and Kate Moss, Hyatt Hotel, Paris, 1999 © Annie Leibovitz. From Annie Leibovitz Wonderland.
Great Reads in Photography: November 21, 2021 10
Annie Leibovitz, 2012 © Annie Leibovitz

In 1999, Vogue sent Annie to Paris to cover the couture collections for the first time—and surprised her by casting Sean Combs [then known as Puff Daddy] alongside Kate Moss (above). “The shoot was a cross-cultural straddling of two worlds: rap culture and high fashion,” the photographer writes in Wonderland [containing 341 images]. “And, of course, they weren’t all that different.”

Great Reads in Photography: November 21, 2021 11
Keira Knightley and Jeff Koons, Goshen, New York, 2005, (Wizard of Oz) © Annie Leibovitz. From Annie Leibovitz Wonderland.

From The New York Times

Annie Leibovitz would like to make one thing clear upfront: She is not a fashion photographer. Given that her new book, Wonderland, is an anthology of fashion images shot mainly for Vogue, that’s curious.

“Fashion wasn’t anything I wanted to be involved with,” she says. Yet the visually arresting images in Wonderland, her new book and collection, may be her strongest work.

Wonderland by Annie Leibovitz is published by Phaidon.


Robert Frank’s Seminal Photo Series The Americans to be Reissued After $1M Grant – The Art Newspaper

Cover scan of The Americans by Robert Frank, 1969 2nd printing.
The Americans by Robert Frank, 1969 2nd printing.

The Americans by photographer Robert Frank will be republished in 2024 by Aperture on the Centennial of Frank’s birth.

Frank (1924 – 2019), who was born in Switzerland, took a road trip across America over many years after receiving a Guggenheim Grant in 1954. This body of work was published as The Americans in 1958.

“Robert Frank helped us see ourselves more clearly and critically,” Sarah Meister, the former photography curator at MoMA New York, who took over as Aperture’s executive director, tells The Art Newspaper. “This new edition will respect and honor that.”

“Photographers from successive generations, from Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander to Bruce Davidson and onto a new generation of photographers today, among them Khalik Allah, Hannah Price and Colby Deal, all pay homage to Frank’s conceptual creation of street photography.”

Frank’s journey was not without incident. He later recalled the anti-Semitism to which he was subject in a small Arkansas town. “I remember the guy [policeman] took me into the police station, and he sat there and put his feet on the table. It came out that I was Jewish because I had a letter from the Guggenheim Foundation. They really were primitive.” He was told by the sheriff, “Well, we have to get somebody who speaks Yiddish.”… “They wanted to make a thing out of it. It was the only time it happened on the trip. They put me in jail. It was scary. Nobody knew where I was.” Elsewhere in the South, he was told by a sheriff that he had “an hour to leave town.” Those incidents may have contributed to the dark view of America found in the work — Wikipedia


Wedding Photography to Do List (According to 200 Photographers) – SLR Lounge

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Photo illustration courtesy SLR Lounge

SLR Lounge polled over 200 photographers to find the following eight tasks to be the most important for prepping for the ceremony.

  1. Sync your cameras/beginning of the day (26%).
  2. Communicate team positions (diagram above) (16%).

Check out the link above for more tips and details.


Photographer Bob Gruen Gets Candid – the Village Voice

Private Dancer: Tina Turner lights up the Honka Monka. © Bob Gruen
Private Dancer: Tina Turner lights up the Honka Monka. © Bob Gruen

The Queens club [Honka Monka] was not necessarily a household name, but it did host Ike and Tina Turner on July 8, 1970, and photographer Bob Gruen, now 76, one of the best-known rock photographers, had a stellar view.

John Lennon on rooftop in New York City. August 29, 1974. © Bob Gruen
John Lennon on rooftop in New York City. August 29, 1974. © Bob Gruen
Polaroid of Bob Gruen taking a photo of John Lennon wearing NYC t-shirt on rooftop, NYC. August 29, 1974. © Bob Gruen
Polaroid of Bob Gruen taking a photo of John Lennon wearing NYC t-shirt on rooftop, NYC. August 29, 1974. © Bob Gruen

From the Village Voice:

In Right Place, Right Time, he [Gruen] describes the gig: “I couldn’t take my eyes off her—she was like a whirling tornado,” he remembers of Tina. “I raised my camera, but I didn’t know where to focus. I didn’t know what the exposure would be. I didn’t know when the timing would be right. All I could see were flashes of her in the strobe. Thinking fast, I decided to see what would happen if I opened the camera up to a one-second exposure and let the strobe flashes expose the film—and I got one of the best pictures (above, first pic) I’ve ever taken.”

In his book, Gruen describes the resultant picture as “five Tinas in the frame, trailing streamers of light.” The dynamic image opened doors for the young photographer.

Also, Interview: Photographer Bob Gruen – Celebrity Access


ZEISS Celebrates 175th Anniversary: 175 Years of Innovation, Passion and the Courage to Develop – Imaging Insider

The illuminated tower at ZEISS' HQ in Oberkochen, Germany, during the anniversary week
The illuminated tower at ZEISS’ HQ in Oberkochen, Germany, during the anniversary week

175 years ago, on 17 November 1846, young mechanic Carl Zeiss opened his workshop for precision mechanics and optics in Jena, thus laying the foundation for what would become ZEISS.

Today with over 35,000 employees, ZEISS operates in almost 50 countries worldwide, with around 60 sales and service companies, 30 production sites and 27 development sites.

Read also: Video: Fascinating ‘Lens Design 101’ Interview with a ZEISS Master


The Unforgotten: the Vogue Photo Festival – in Pictures – The Guardian

Untitled from the series Warawar Wawa ("Son of the Stars" in the language of the Aymara people of the Bolivian Andes. This is a re-imagining of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's book Le Petit Prince) © River Claure
Untitled from the series Warawar Wawa, “Son of the Stars” in the language of the Aymara people of the Bolivian Andes. This is a re-imagining of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book Le Petit Prince © River Claure

For its 6th edition, titled Reframing History, the PhotoVogue festival features projects incorporating an alternative and different way of telling a tale. The annual photography festival invites artists to reclaim overlooked or marginalized histories, from the Bolivian Andes to Africa and beyond

The Market Photo Workshop, 2007-8. Lalhande, 21, with his cigar, in front of a photo studio in Brazzaville © Daniele Tamagni
The Market Photo Workshop, 2007-8. Lalhande, 21, with his cigar, in front of a photo studio in Brazzaville © Daniele Tamagni

PhotoVogue celebrates its 10th anniversary with a video that features over 500 photographs. As of today, it counts over 257,000 photographers and over 700,000 photographs from 210 countries. Curated by Vogue Italia’s photo editors, PhotoVogue offers an internationally diverse database of the most interesting voices in contemporary photography.

Photo Vogue Festival 2021 is free to view online with an exhibition at BASE Milano


Remembering British Photojournalist Tom Stoddart, Dead at 68 – Amateur Photographer

Embed from Getty Images
One of the finest documentary photographers and photojournalists the UK has ever produced, Tom Stoddart died at 68 after a brave struggle with cancer.

From Amateur Photographer:

Tom began his photographic career in local newspapers in his beloved North East before moving to London and building a solid reputation as a photojournalist, most notably for his coverage of Desert Storm. He really made his name, however, with his images from the frontline of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia (he was seriously injured by Serbian artillery while covering the siege of Sarajevo in 1992).

His image of Meliha Varešanović (Tom holds the photo above), striding defiantly down “sniper alley” in the city, is now the stuff of legend.


On the Anniversary of His Death, Revisiting Photographer Peter Lindbergh’s Final Project, Untold Stories – Vogue

Uma Thurman, New York, 2016 © Peter Lindbergh, courtesy Taschen
Uma Thurman, New York, 2016 © Peter Lindbergh, courtesy Taschen

Photographer Peter Lindberg (1944-2019) self-curated his first exhibition just two years before his death selecting 140 images from the early 1980s to 2010. It featured unseen images of legendary supermodels such as Claudia Schiffer, Karen Elson and Milla Jovovich.

Sasha Pivovarova, Steffy Argelich, Kirsten Owen & Guinevere van Seenus, Brooklyn, 2015
Sasha Pivovarova, Steffy Argelich, Kirsten Owen & Guinevere van Seenus, Brooklyn, 2015 © Peter Lindbergh, courtesy Taschen

Lindberg documented the rise of the 1990s supermodels such as Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford.

“He photographed Anna Wintour’s first Vogue cover in November 1988—a now-infamous image of Israeli model Michaela Bercu, wearing a bejeweled Christian Lacroix top,” writes Vogue. “In what would be one of his final projects, Lindbergh was chosen by guest editor Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to shoot the cover of British Vogue in September 2019.”

Peter Lindbergh. Untold Stories is published by Taschen

Read also: Peter Lindbergh, Fashion Photography Icon, Has Died at Age 74


Irving Penn’s ‘Girl Behind Bottle’ Sells for $210,000 at Paris Photo — Ocula

Read also: Irving Penn’s Timeless Photography and ‘Photographism’


STOP Shooting at Apertures Smaller than f/11

Why? Watch the Diffraction Tutorial from Matt Granger:


Lady Gaga Calls Out Photographer for Making Al Pacino Remove Sunglasses on House of Gucci Red Carpet – The Independent

Embed from Getty Images
From The Independent

Lady Gaga called out a photographer for ordering Al Pacino to remove his sunglasses.

The pair were having photos taken alongside Jared Leto at the premiere of their new film House of Gucci.

In a video shared by Entertainment Tonight, one particularly confident photographer could be heard shouting: “Take off your glasses, Al!”

Pacino, smiling, removed his sunglasses. However, Gaga replied: “Don’t make him take his glasses off – he’s Al Pacino!”

Leto then urged him to put them back on, which he did.

Embed from Getty Images


Why Apple Changed its Mind on Right to Repair — Engadget

Elrctronics repair - smartphone screen repair
Depositphotos

From Engadget:

Apple does not have a good track record in terms of letting customers repair their hardware. The last decade-plus has seen Apple’s computers become essentially impossible for users to service or upgrade, and the iPhone has always been a locked box…

So Apple’s announcement earlier this week that it would start selling parts and tools directly to consumers and offer repair guides was a huge surprise and a move immediately hailed as a victory by right-to-repair activists…

Nathan Proctor, a senior Right to Repair campaign director at Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), told Engadget in an email exchange that he thinks “combined pressure from consumers, regulators and shareholders has shifted Apple’s thinking.”

Read also: Apple’s New Program Will Let You Repair iPhones and Macs Yourself


Photo of the Week

Embed from Getty Images
School Kids in Glass Cubicles in the Philippines

After almost two years of the COVID-19 shutdown, the Philippines resumed limited face-to-face classes in 100 schools across the country this week on November 15. The Philippines is the last country in the world to reopen schools.


Quiz of the Week

1.) A tilted horizon is called the
a.) French angle
b.) Kodak angle as the original Brownie was difficult to level
c.) Dutch angle

2.) Nikon made an F-mount 1000mm f/6.3 lens circa 1959. This lens was relatively short in length for its large focal length and the design was called
a.) Catadioptric lens (CAT)
b.) Reflex lens
c.) Mirror lens

3.) In the Sunny 16 rule which was popular before light meters were built into film cameras, the aperture was set to f/16 on a sunny day. How was the shutter speed selected?

Answers

1.) (c.) Dutch angle

2.) All three are correct and mean the same thing for the Nikon 1000mm f/6.3

3.) It was the reciprocal of the ISO film speed, i.e., 100 ISO would be 1/100 sec. (or 1/125 sec) and 400 ISO would be 1/400 sec. (or 1/500 sec)


Why I Like This Photo – Josh Edelson

Lt. Ryan Chamberlain (below) and CDR Frank Weisser (above) fly U.S. Navy Blue Angels numbers 5 and 6 over San Francisco, California as part of a practice run for Fleet Week on October 06, 2016. On June 02, Capt. Jeff Kuss, pilot for Blue Angel Number 6, was killed during a "Split S" maneuver ahead of an air show in Tennessee.
Lt. Ryan Chamberlain (below) and CDR Frank Weisser (above) fly U.S. Navy Blue Angels numbers 5 and 6 over San Francisco, California as part of a practice run for Fleet Week on October 06, 2016.  © Josh Edelson

While on assignment for Agence France-Presse (AFP), I had coordinated to photograph the Blue Angels from the air during their annual Fleet Week event over San Francisco, California. But it didn’t just happen by luck.

To get this photo, I arranged to fly in a chase plane with the door taken off. I was strapped in so I wouldn’t fall to certain death in the San Francisco Bay below. I shot with my Nikon D5 and used my wide angle 24-70mm F/2.8 lens because these Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet jets were actually only about 30 feet away from me.

Capturing these monsters of war thousands of feet up in the sky, with the San Francisco skyline in the background all while the pilot is looking directly at me, is an incredibly rare and well-orchestrated confluence of circumstances. That’s what I love about this photo – that you can’t just go out and make this image yourself without coordinating with dozens of people and organizations.

It’s actually a trickier shot to get than it may seem. The plane I was in wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the Blue Angels, so we had to start at a high altitude and enter into a gigantic downward spiral to get the chase plane fast enough to match the minimum speed of the Blue Angels while maintaining a significant bank. While in this maneuver, we only had about two full rotations around the city before reaching our floor altitude, giving us only a few chances to get everything lined up.

I also needed to coordinate with the fighter pilots as well as my own to try to create separation between the planes. If the wings or any other parts of the jets overlapped, it would ruin the shot – so I’d be telling the pilots to speed up, slow down, go higher, or go lower than their wingman or us. Even the slightest adjustment on the pilot’s part would alter the separation, which could make or break the photo. All that, and I still needed to line it up with the ideal cityscape background.

I also had to keep my camera inside the plane. Reaching even slightly outside would subject my camera to winds of 130mph+, making it impossible to hold onto. It’s also so loud and erratic in the chase plane, you can’t hear or feel your shutter firing, so you just fire away and hope for the best. I shot at about 32mm. Any wider, and I’d be seeing my chase plane’s wings which kills the composition.

Shooting the Blue Angels from the sky is probably one of the most exciting shoots I’ve done. Not just because it’s exciting to look at, but because it was just as fun of an experience as you might imagine! And if you’ve ever wondered whether or not these planes are actually super close together or if it’s just an illusion, let this photo provide proof that they are indeed flying $56 million jets only a few feet apart at hundreds of miles per hour!

Josh Edelson is an internationally published freelance photojournalist and commercial photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photojournalism takes up 25% of his time, and the rest goes to corporate events and headshots. His client list includes Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, The Governments of Dubai and Ireland. The most interesting thing he has done–proposed to his wife last year while skydiving in Spain! Recent News Work: via Getty


Quote of the Week — Peter Lindberg

Naomi Campbell, Ibiza, 2000, Photographed by Peter Lindbergh
Naomi Campbell, Ibiza, 2000 © Peter Lindbergh.

The above photo is from Peter Lindbergh. Untold Stories published by Taschen.

People think that it is important to learn by assisting the great photographers. I say that is a big mistake. Be happy; just learn from any little guy. Learn how to use the camera – you don’t need anything else. You can’t be taught the real skill anyway. — Peter Lindbergh

Peter Lindbergh (1944–2019) was a German fashion photographer who preferred black & white photography. He captured fashion models Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington together for the January 1990 British Vogue cover, beginning an era of supermodels. He photographed the Pirelli Calendar three times 1996, 2002, and 2017. In 2002 he used actresses for the calendar instead of models for the first time. Germaine Greer described it as “Pirelli’s most challenging calendar yet.”


To see an archive of past issues of Great Reads in Photography, click here.


We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him here.


Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies. Portions of header photo via Depositphotos. Middle horizontal (top) “Son of the Stars” © River Claure, courtesy PhotoVogue, Middle horizontal (bottom) Lalhande, 21, with his cigar, in front of a photo studio in Brazzaville © Daniele Tamagni, courtesy PhotoVogue, Blue Angels on extreme left © Josh Edelson.

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Canon’s Next Firmware Update Will Bring Some Great Upgrades and New Features

Canon's Next Firmware Update Will Bring Some Great Upgrades and New Features

Canon shooters using the EOS R5, R6, and/or 1D X Mark III, will have reason to smile soon, as an upcoming firmware update will bring some notable improvements and new features that will make their lives easier. 

The update came from Canon UK, who announced the upcoming versions of firmware of the EOS R5 (version 1.50), EOS R6 (version 1.50), and 1D X Mark III (version 1.60), which will bring a range of new features and improvements based on feedback from early EOS R3 users.

Canon EOS R5 and R6

  • Enhanced subject recognition
  • Addition of vehicle tracking for cars and bikes
  • Improved people autofocus tracking, with better eye and face detection when subjects are wearing a mask
  • Addition of body detection
  • Ability to set a custom white balance in Live View
  • EOS R5 support for EOS VR system and RF 5.2mm f/2.8L dual fisheye lens

Canon 1D X Mark III

  • Improved head detection for subjects wearing goggles or helmets for shooting winter sports
  • Ability to use one button for simultaneous voice memo and image rating application
  • Ability to disable the Multi-Controller for FTP transfer

The new firmware versions will be available to download on December 2nd. 

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Great Reads in Photography: November 14, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: November 14, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: November 14, 2021 13

Every Sunday, we bring together a collection of easy-reading articles from analytical to how-to to photo features in no particular order that did not make our regular daily coverage. Enjoy!


‘People Arrived for Work and Got Vaporised’: How Kikuji Kawada Captured the Trauma of Hiroshima – The Guardian

Great Reads in Photography: November 14, 2021 14
The ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall reflected in the Ohta river. © Kikuji Kawada. Image from Chizu (Maquette Edition) (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist, The New York Public Library, and MACK.

Photographer Kikuji Kawada was 25 when he visited Hiroshima in 1958 for the first time. He was drawn to the ruined shell of a once decorative steel-framed building that was still standing despite being severely damaged when America dropped the first atomic bomb on the city at 8.15 am on 6 August 1945, obliterating everything else within a mile radius.

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© Kikuji Kawada. Image from Chizu (Maquette Edition) (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist, The New York Public Library, and MACK.

“Haunted by what he had seen, Kawada later returned to Hiroshima with a large format 4×5 plate camera and, using only the natural light coming through the shattered dome overhead, photographed the eerie shapes on what is now known as the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome, a memorial to the victims of the bombing,” writes The Guardian. “The ‘stain’ photographsas they have come to be known, are the emotional and conceptual dark heart of Kawada’s book, Chizu (The Map), which was first published in an edition of 500 in 1965.

“It is,” says the British photographer Martin Parr, “the holy grail of Japanese photobooks.

“When the place was destroyed,” he told Aperture magazine in 2015, “there were about 30 people (who) had arrived for work and ended up vaporized.”

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Everyday objects … Coca-Cola bottles embedded in the ground. © Kikuji Kawada. Image from Chizu (Maquette Edition) (MACK, 2021). Courtesy the artist, The New York Public Library, and MACK.

Kawada’s Chizu took five years to create and has resold for up to £25,000 (~$33,500) a copy. Now a new edition revisits his personal archeology of a nation’s pain.

Chizu (Maquette Edition) is published by Mack.

Also, Kikuji Kawada on the Traumas of History and the Skies above Japan — Aperture


The Stories Behind 5 of David Hume Kennerly’s Iconic Images – Digital Photo Pro

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Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and Canon Explorer of Light David Hume Kennerly shares the stories behind five of his powerful photos.

Kennerly writes in DPP:

The Hug (above) was taken at the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016 when First Lady Michelle Obama hugged former President George W. Bush.

I immediately knew that the embrace was important. If I had taken it a fraction of a second before, after, or standing a foot in either direction, I would have missed the moment. Another key element was Bush having his eyes closed for that magic instant, and it helped make the photo something special. The picture went viral as soon as I posted it online…

Here you see an African American woman hugging a white man. A Democrat hugging a Republican…

This image is the non-political and bi-partisan manifestation of people of all colors, sizes, shapes, and political parties getting together to celebrate the opening of the NMAAHC…I made this frame with the Canon EOS 5DS R using the Canon EF 100-400mm lens at 400mm.

Also, on Kennerly’s blog Uncropped: The Story Behind “The Hug” Photo


Announcing the Winners of the 2021 PhotoBook Awards – Aperture

Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation have announced the 2021 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards winners. From the thirty-five shortlisted, a final jury in Paris selected this year’s winners.


8 Wedding Photography Trends That Will Come into Focus in 2022 — Vogue

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© The Blumes

Wedding clients are no longer interested in the overly formal photos of the past and campy studio shots that were preferred in the ’80s. Today’s couples are more interested in bridal imagery that’s thoughtfully composed and authentic.

Click on the link above to discover what wedding photographers will be capturing as we head into 2022, from portrait styles and lighting to popular props and color schemes.


Forced From Home: the Humans and Animals Under Threat – in Pictures – The Guardian

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James and Fatu, Kenya, 2020 © Nick Brandt 2021

Nick Brandt visited five animal sanctuaries in Africa to portray the people displaced by droughts and the creatures whose very existence is under threat.

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The Making of The Day May Break © Nick Brandt 2021

Brandt writes in the introduction:

The animals there are almost all long-term rescues because of everything from poaching of their parents, to habitat destruction, to poisoning.

These animals can never be released back into the wild, as they would not survive. With their lives now spent within the sanctuaries, they have become habituated to humans. As a result, it was safe for human strangers to be close to the animals, photographed, crucially, in the same frame at the same time.

The fog [which was created by water-based non-toxic fog machines on location] is the unifying visual, symbolically causing a once-recognizable world to fade from view…

I’m stating the obvious, but it needs to keep being repeated: that in destroying nature, we will also ultimately destroy ourselves. A healthy natural world is essential for the well-being of all humanity.

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Richard and Sky, Zimbabwe, 2020 © Nick Brandt 2021

The Day May Break by Nick Brandt is published by Hatje Cantz


The Surprising True Story of Kodak Aerochrome and Photographer Richard Mosse’s Images and Film of the Congolese War

Read also:
The Enclave: A Powerful Documentary on The Congo Shot Entirely on Infrared Film
Unique Photos of Eastern Congo Made Using Infrared Film


Picasso, Afghanistan and Me: the Wild Adventures of Fred Baldwin – in Pictures – The Guardian

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A car being decorated for a Knights of the KKK meeting. Baldwin recalls: “Driving through rural Georgia in 1966, I found, to my amazement, cars being decorated to go to a Knights of the Ku Klux Klan meeting. I stopped, overcame my fear, and got permission to follow them to the meeting and a cross rising on the steps of the County Courthouse in Reidsville, Georgia, where I completed the photography that night.” © Fred Baldwin, photo courtesy Schilt Publishing.

“At 90, photographer Fred Baldwin still has ‘so much work left to do’,” writes James Estrin in The New York Times.

Fred Baldwin (b 1928), the celebrated American photographer and co-founder of FotoFest (Houston), took a turn in the direction of the extraordinary when during his last year of college in 1955, he decided to photograph Pablo Picasso. After a three-day siege outside Picasso’s house in Cannes, France, the artist finally opened the door to Baldwin, who was allowed to take pictures freely in his studio.

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Baldwin (center) with Pablo Picasso, at the painter’s home in Cannes, July 1955. “I was a college student. He was my imaginary father. I delivered an illustrated letter to his doorstep in Cannes explaining why I had to see him…I spent the day with him. It changed my life. After this experience, I felt that I could do anything I set out to do.”

After graduating from college, he would spend the next 20 years making remarkable picture stories about people and places, taking him to extreme adventure, and at times, great personal risk. His camera would become his passport to the world and provide the material and inspiration for Dear Mr. Picasso: An Illustrated Love Affair with Freedom, from Schilt Publishing, Netherlands.

The Klan work was a complete accident. He was setting out to try to do his first documentary project by photographing a tobacco auction in rural Georgia. However, he never got there because, on the way, he found a line of cars parked on the side of the highway being decorated with KKK slogans.


How to Use Diagonal Lines in Photography — ShotKit

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Depositphotos

You’ve probably heard that a diagonal line can give a sense of action or lead the viewer to different points in the image – while this is true, it’s not always easy to implement this rule.

1.) Avoid connecting opposite corners
2.) Create depth with diagonal lines
3.) Use the Dutch angle

Check out the above link for eight more tips and full details.


These Photos Show the Timeless Appeal of Travel And Tourism — BuzzFeed

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Tourists at cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, Aug.1939, from 35 mm nitrate negative, photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986), Library of Congress.

Under lockdown, travel photography fueled our jealousy, longing, and admiration. For travelers back in the 1800s, photographs were important in another way: “You might have gone to that place, but you couldn’t take a picture of it, so you buy one to show people back home,” said Jamie Allen, an associate curator at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, to BuzzFeed.


The Photo-Lab to Close After 107 Years in Downtown Schenectady, NY – Daily Gazette


Using a Teleconverter in Lunar Photography — Space

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“All budding astrophotographers should consider using teleconverters in their camera set-up,” recommends photographer Jason Parnell-Brookes in the article above.


How Architecture Depends on Photography

Stewart Hicks, an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discusses the work of famous architectural photographers.


 19 Awesome Books on the Long History of Photography – My Modern Met

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Photo from A History of Photography. From 1839 to the Present published by Taschen

Check out this curated list of 20 titles that walk you through a photographic tour from daguerreotype to digital.


Joke of the Week

The old lady was walking to her local grocery store when she spots a youngster walking her dog.

“That’s a cute puppy,” she compliments the 12-year-old.

“That’s nothing,” says the young lady, “let me show you his photo on my iPhone.”


Photo of the Week

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Rusty wipes out during the annual Surf City Surf Dog event at Huntington Beach, California.


Quiz of the Week

1.) Which are the first and only two professional mirrorless cameras to have an integrated grip for vertical shooting.

2.) Which camera has a built-in flash trigger for firing Profoto flashes?

3.) For photos created in the United States, the copyright generally expires
a.) With the death of the person
b.) 70 years after the death
c.) It never expires, provided it is created after 1925 and registered with the US Copyright Office only during the lifetime of the photographer
d) 25 years after death for unregistered works

Answers

1.) Nikon Z9 and Canon EOS R3

2.) PhaseOne. Nikon has announced a partnership with lighting brands Nissin and Profoto, but no technical details are currently available.

3.) (b.) 70 years after the death.


Why I Like This Photo — Steve Jessmore

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Fish Flip. Great Blue Heron successful at Arcadia Marsh in northern Michigan, 8/2021 © Steve Jessmore Photography

I came across this Great Blue Heron while walking on a boardwalk at Arcadia Marsh in northern Michigan. It was a midsummer afternoon in August of 2021. We had had a long day of travel, getting up before sunrise, and it was now 9 hours later. I watched the bird through my Sony a1 and Sony FE 600mm f4 GM OSS plus 1.4 converter, giving me a focal length of 840 mm. Patience paid off, and it wasn’t 20-minutes later that it grabbed and flipped back and swallowed this fish.

My favorite wildlife photos tell stories and show behavior. I love this photo because of the moment and the story. The tight crop emphasizes a graphic composition with the s-curve neck and the beak. The circle of life contest between the hungry predator and prey freezes the moment of the fish perfectly centered as it is flipped in midair between the beak and swallowed whole. The gaze of both bird and fish makes the photo for me. One can see the almost “sad” look on the fish’s face as if it realizes the inevitable.

There’s an old saying about “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” My thought is to work with what you see and not go looking for something else you may find. Wait for something special to happen. I know a lot of photographers that I’ve shot with who just get a couple of shots quickly of whatever we come across and don’t stop to try to tell a story. I love moments that give an insight into their behavior and life’s pursuits.

Steve Jessmore is a five-time Michigan Press Photographer Association, Photographer of the Year. Jessmore left newspapers in 2013 for a new challenge–to be the photographer/photo editor for Central Michigan University. He is currently a freelance photographer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, using his 30-years of experience and focusing on storytelling, collaboration, branding and community journalism.


Quote of the Week — Nick Brandt

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Harriet and People in Fog, Zimbabwe, 2020 © Nick Brandt 2021

I want my images to achieve two things in this regard – to be an elegy to a world that is tragically vanishing, to make people see what beauty is disappearing. Also, to try and show that animals are sentient creatures equally as worthy of life as humans.* — Nick Brandt 

*Nick Brandt’s Love Of Africa

Nick Brandt (b. 1964) is an English photographer. Brandt’s work generally focuses on the rapidly disappearing natural world because of environmental destruction, climate change and man’s actions. While directing Earth Song, a music video for Michael Jackson in Tanzania in 1995, Brandt fell in love with the animals and land of East Africa.


To see an archive of past issues of Great Reads in Photography, click here.


We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.


Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies. Portions of header photo via Depositphotos, car in Reidsville, GA, Fred Baldwin, photo courtesy Schilt Publishing, A History of Photography From 1839 to the Present published by Taschen and tourists at cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park from Library of Congress.

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Great Reads in Photography: November 7, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: November 7, 2021

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Every Sunday, we bring together a collection of easy-reading articles from analytical to how-to to photo features in no particular order that did not make our regular daily coverage. Enjoy!


Canon Explorer of Light Rick Sammon talks about the Canon EOS R3 – Phil Mistry

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I suggest selecting your “keepers” from a wildlife shoot based on two main factors: 1) gesture – the position of the wings, body and head, and 2) the sharpness and illumination of the eyes. If the eyes are not well lit and in focus, you (and I) have missed the shot (in most cases). © Rick Sammon

Rick Sammon has been photographing for 40 years.

“I’m an A-to-Z type of photographer,” Sammon says. “I do it all – and I enjoy the freedom of not specializing.”

Sammon, a Canon Explorer of Light, has photographed in 100 countries and been published in 42 books. He started as an underwater photographer leading scuba diving expeditions to the seven seas. He then easily transitioned into travel, landscape, wildlife, cultural and nature photography.

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The true test of how well Animal Tracking works is when you try to photograph a fast-moving subject coming directly at you. The R3 passes the test with flying colors . . . and flying feathers in this case! © Rick Sammon

The 5-Minute Sunday Interview

Phil Mistry: How long have you been shooting with the Canon R3?

Rick Sammon: I have been photographing (more like testing at home for my travel workshops and tours) with the Canon EOS R3 for about three weeks, using the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens for my wildlife photography.

PM: What is one thing that you like the most about the R3?

RS: Asking about the “one” thing I like about the camera is kinda like asking a parent, “Who is your favorite child?” So, to answer that question, I’d say I like the combination of super-fast auto focus (with subject detection, especially animals) and the super-high frame rate – which helps me capture very subtle differences in gestures in my wildlife photographs.

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Separation (especially the heads and eyes) is the key when photographing multiple birds in flight. Photographing with a camera with a frame rate of up to 30 frames per second can help photographers accomplish that goal. © Rick Sammon

PM: Does the 24 MP sensor allow you to crop as you could do with your other cameras?

RS: Yes! Because I always try to get it right in camera, photographing at the lowest possible ISO for the cleanest possible shot.

PM: When Canon makes the R1 (or whatever they call the top-level camera), what three features would you like to have which are not there in the R3?

RS: At this point, for my type of wildlife photography, I think the R3 is ideal.

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When it comes to birds in flight (BIF) photography, it’s usually wings up, or wings down that makes a good shot. This composite of the same seagull, photographed with the R3 and RF100-500 lens, illustrates that photo philosophy. © Rick Sammon

PM: Is eye control useful for all photographers?

RS: I think the Eye-Control is useful for photographers who photograph busy scenes, such as a baseball batter running between second and third base, with the pitcher in the foreground and outfielder in the background. It is also useful when photographing different types of birds flying over a field or pond – and you want one shot of a particular bird.

PM: Any other thoughts? 

RS: I think the feel of a camera is important, just as the feel of a guitar [Sammon is a guitar teacher] is important. Easy-to-access controls are also important, especially when exposure and focus decisions need to be made in a split second. The R3 offers both . . . not to mention offering an amazing viewfinder.

Read also: Looking vs. Seeing as a Photographer


The One Shot That Changed Everything – in Pictures – The Guardian

 

Can a photograph change your life? Multiple photographers pick the image that cast a spell on them – and made them reconsider their own way of doing things.

Candid stories, presented alongside their chosen photographs, give unparalleled insights into the creative influences of contributors, including: Alec Soth, Don McCullin, Alex Prager, David Bailey, Duane Michals, Gregory Crewdson, Jack Davison, Joy Gregory, Mari Mahr, Megan Winstone, Nan Goldin, Takashi Arai, Valerie Sadoun, Zhang Kechun.


Gillian Laub Explores Her Family’s Political Dramas – The New Yorker

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Grandpa helping Grandma out, Mamaroneck, NY 2000. The first photo Laub took of her family that was ever published © Gillian Laub, photo courtesy International Center of Photography

New York-based photographer Gillian Laub’s photos of her Jewish-American family saga feel both anguished and hopeful.

“Photographing my family is a way for me to navigate my identity,” Laub tells The New Yorker. “These are people, my people, who I have felt very much a part of, but also outside of, and I have been navigating that line since the moment I picked up the camera.”

In one photograph during the pandemic, Laub shows her parents standing outside a sliding glass door holding a balloon and cake and wishing her a happy birthday in a loving but also frustrating way.

Jamie practicing for the family, Armonk, NY 2003
My cousin Jamie with a captive audience, Armonk, NY, 2003. © Gillian Laub, photo courtesy International Center of Photography

Although the photos were captured over two decades, the most recent ones reveal the cracks in the family relationships over different political affiliations.

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My quarantine birthday, 2020. © Gillian Laub, photo courtesy International Center of Photography

“The rise of Donald Trump, and her family’s support for and even adulation of the man, puzzled and distressed the liberal photographer,” writes The New Yorker.

Gillian Laub Family Matters is on at The International Center of Photography till Jan 10, 2022.


Travels With Boji: Istanbul’s Commuter Dog – The Atlantic

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Boji, an Istanbul street dog, rides a subway train in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 21, 2021.

From The Atlantic:

Boji, a street dog living in Istanbul, Turkey, has become a popular sight on the city’s subways, ferries, trams, and buses. Chris McGrath, a photographer with Getty Images, recently joined Boji as he made his rounds, during which he can travel as much as 30 kilometers [19 miles] a day. “Since noticing the dog’s movements,” McGrath says, “Istanbul Municipality officials began tracking his commutes via a microchip and a phone app. Most days, he will pass through at least 29 metro stations and take at least two ferry rides. He has learned how and where to get on and off the trains and ferries.”

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One of the World’s Leading Nature Photographers Hopes to Reconnect Readers to the Wild World Around Them Daily Mail

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Panzer division, Kenya. To get this wide-angle, low-viewpoint image of a crash of rhinos, I lay motionless in a narrow ditch that was located in the direction they were heading. Their eyesight is quite poor, so they rely on their sense of hearing and smell. When they got really close to checking me out, I used silent mode on my Nikon Z7 to not startle them. Nikon Z7, 24-70/4.0, 1/500 @ f/8.0, ISO 500

Mother: A Tribute to Mother Earth by photographer Marsel van Oosten and published by teNeues features more than 200 striking landscapes and wildlife images.

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Eternal adversaries, Japan. On average, the Steller’s Sea eagle is the heaviest eagle in the world, at about 5–9 kg (11–20 lb.), and it is one of the largest raptors overall. They mainly feed on fish, but they occasionally prey on red fox and even small domestic dogs. Foxes often try to steal fish from the eagles, and this eagle was chasing it off for that reason. Nikon D500, 200-400/4.0, 1/3200 @ f/5.6, ISO 400.

Mother contains mesmerizing pictures from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Antarctica captured by Oosten over the past 15 years. He hopes that the images in this book will reconnect people to nature, make them realize that Mother Earth desperately needs our protection, and inspire them to take action.

This young Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) stole the iPhone of a tourist that wanted to take a closeup shot. Photographed at Jigokudani, Japan. This image was the Public’s Choice winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. My most stolen image on the internet.
Facebook update, Japan. When a tourist got too close to a macaque to get some close-ups with her iPhone, the macaque snatched it from her hands and started playing with it in the hot spring. At some stage, it held it just like a human. This image has gone viral on the internet, and it is my most-stolen image. First Prize winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Nikon D800, 70-200/2.8, 1/250 @ f/7.1, ISO 800
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Nightcap, Botswana. After spending a long afternoon in a hide next to a waterhole in the remote eastern corner of Botswana, it was getting too dark to photograph. As I was packing up, a leopard came down to drink, and I quickly got my camera out again. I used a small headlamp and bumped up the ISO to 51,200 to get this shot. Nikon D5, 70-200/2.8, 1/30 @ f/2.8, ISO 51200 © Marsel van Oosten

Photos of ’70s Halloween Trick-or-Treaters That Will Melt Your Cold Heart – BuzzFeed

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Group of Trick-or-Treaters © Larry Racioppo

Larry Racioppo photographed Halloween in Brooklyn for years, capturing classic costumes from Star Wars characters to the Bride of Frankenstein.

“I could drive a cab two days a week to cover rent ($125 in 1973), and the rest of the time, I practiced photography,” Racioppo tells BuzzFeed.

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Bride of Frankenstein © Larry Racioppo

He photographed all over Brooklyn but capturing Halloween in his neighborhood was his favorite.

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Three boys with tear makeup © Larry Racioppo

Racioppo has donated a collection of about 100 photos to the New York Public Library’s photo collection.

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Skeleton and ape © Larry Racioppo

These photos are a journey back in time, to The Bionic Woman and Star Wars, before Elsa and Shrek.


A Photographer on The Prowl Captured New York City’s Most Outrageous Halloween Costumes of 2021—BuzzFeed

Today’s Halloween costumes shot by British photographer Adam Powell strike a marked difference from the ones of the ’70s at the link one paragraph above.


The Big Picture: Brutal Intimacy on the Streets of Tokyo with Bruce Gilden – The Guardian

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Businessman at lunchtime outside JR station, Tokyo, Japan, 1996 © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

From The Guardian:

Bruce Gilden,  infamous for his up-close, flashgun New York street photography, visited Japan several times in the 1990s. His pictures of Tokyo, collected in a new book, Cherry Blossom, share the brutal intimacy of his Manhattan archive. His camera has always sought out and ambushed characters, hard men, broken souls, desperate women.

Many of his Japanese pictures are in the faces of Yakuza gangsters; one or two make you wonder how he lived to make the prints. Others go in search of people marginalized by Tokyo society: homeless drunks, aging sex workers, teenage biker gangs. The man in this photograph [above] is described as a “businessman at lunchtime,” though, reaching into his breast pocket, he seems to carry much of the threat and menace of the more overtly violent of Gilden’s subjects.

Cherry Blossom by Bruce Gilden is published by Thames & Hudson

Read also: A Chat with Bruce Gilden About Life, Work, and Photography


Why the Myth That Dark Skin Is Harder to Photograph Persists – Allure

And how three photographers are pushing back against a bias that’s existed since film was invented.

“The film chemistry that creates color balance was not originally designed with yellow, brown, and reddish skin tones in mind, and such hues wouldn’t even be considered until the 1970s,” writes Allure.

Read also: Here’s a Look at How Color Film was Originally Biased Toward White People


Across Time with Photojournalist David BurnettSony Alpha Films

David Burnett (b. 1946) is an American magazine photojournalist. His work from the 1979 Iranian revolution was published extensively in Time. He was a member of the Gamma photo agency and co-founded Contact Press Images. American Photo magazine named Burnett one of the 100 Most Important People in Photography. “That made his mom very happy,” writes his website.


Looking Back on Helmut Newton’s Legacy in Fashion Photography – Forbes

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The German-born fashion photographer Helmut Newton, born 101 years ago, changed photography with his iconoclastic ways.

“He was no fit for British Vogue, but rather found a kinship with the risks that French Vogue was willing to take, at the time,” writes Forbes. “Over the course of his 60-year career, Newton disrupted fashion photography from something perfect to elegant anarchy.

“Fact: He created sexually-charged fashion photos in French Vogue in a time when they were risqué.”


Do Photographers Have to Learn Video? – Photofocus

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© Melissa Moody, 2021

“With new still cameras bringing professional-level video to photographers, it is only a matter of time before people will ask us to make motion pictures,” says photographer Kevin Ames in the article above.

Canon started the revolution when they introduced HD video in the 5D Mark II in November of 2008, and still photographers realized that they already have a very useable video camera in their hands.

For the still photographers of today, cinema-quality video is already readily available in the cameras they are using. Resolutions up to 8K and pro codecs are now becoming standard, as are higher frame rates for capturing slow motion. RAW video and Log profiles are also becoming more prevalent in pro still cameras.


Raw Photos of Landfills Show the Extreme Amount of Waste Humans Produce – BuzzFeed

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In Kuwait, disposed of tires have been accumulating for about 20 years at this tires’ graveyard, threatening the environment and human health due to hazardous components they contain.

Where does all the trash go after you take it to the dumpster? The reality depicted in the images here showcases the current state of waste management and how the items we discard are piling up worldwide.

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A Venezuelan migrant searches a rubbish dump for clothes for her and her children on the outskirts of Iquique, Chile.

“1,825 pounds of trash per year: That’s how much the average American produces, according to statistics by the Environmental Protection Agency,” says Buzzfeed. “According to the agency’s findings, food and paper top the rankings for types of waste going into landfills.”


Photo of the Week

No, Don’t. We’re on the Same Side!

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Spot-billed pelican interact on the banks of an artificial lake in Colombo on September 28, 2021. (Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images)


Quiz of the Week

1.) JPEGmini has released update 3.3 for the image optimization app, which brings a long-requested feature to the software to:

a.) Compress RAW still files
b.) Reduce the size of video files
c.) Reduce the size of audio files

2.) Is it possible for a lens adapter to widen the angle of view of a lens?

3.) Which is the first combined LED light and digital strobe? Hint: It does not have a conventional flash tube but fires the flashes via the LED.

Answers

1.) (b.) Reduce the size of video files. It supports the optimization of H.264(AVC) MP4 and MOV files, and users can expect up to a 50% file size reduction (30% on average, with peaks up to 80%).

2.) Yes. A new Mitakon adapter for Nikon Z widens the angle (by 0.726x) of full-frame lenses on APS-C cameras.

3.) The StellaPro Reflex. It can be used as an off-camera flash controlled remotely by Godox or Elinchrom triggers and fires up to 20 frames per second for extended periods without overheating.


Why I Like This Photo – Meryl Meisler

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© Meryl Meisler

I like this photo because it shows a person doing something private in public. A young woman is looking in a handheld mirror to apply face powder while riding a moving NYC subway train. We view the subject from over her left shoulder as her left hand grasps hold of the makeup mirror. In the reflection, we see her right hand applying powder with a cosmetic pad. She looks calmly into the mirror at her reflection, patting her skin while avoiding eye contact with the camera lens. The composition is a series of diagonal and parallel lines accentuated by the slightly off-center circular mirror. The close-up of her hands and face overlaps a young, bearded man wearing ear pods, holding a mobile device, staring off in another direction. A hooded figure crouches on the farthest seat of the train.

There is a warm tone throughout the image. Orange seats and a small orange circle on the signage indicate to a regular subway rider that this is an F train. The woman wears gold-colored accessories — a wristband, hoop earring, mirror, and handbag with gold metal details. The man with the earbuds has a warm orange cloth bag, the person in the distance wears a muted green hoodie. The only cool tone color in the composition is the seated figure’s blue checked pants. An eerie yet incandescent light reflects throughout the train.

I wasn’t carrying a stand-alone camera when I saw this woman but knew it was an image I wanted to capture. I asked if I could take her photograph and post it on my Instagram account because I never saw anyone applying makeup just like that on a train. She replied yes and continued fixing her makeup while I used my iPhone XR using existing light to take this photo on November 21, 2019. I asked if she wanted me to tag her. She replied yes and typed @cocaine_waiitress directly onto my post. I applied the hashtag #onlyinny.

Less than four months later, the world as we know it changed due to the pandemic. Now, everyone is required to wear masks on the NYC subways.

The best camera is the one you have on you.

Meryl Meisler (b.1951 South Bronx, NY) studied with Lisette Model while photographing her hometown and the city around her. After working as a freelance illustrator by day, Meisler frequented and photographed the infamous New York Discos. As a 1978 CETA Artist grant recipient, Meisler created a portfolio of photographs that explored her Jewish Identity for the American Jewish Congress. After CETA, she began a 3-decade career as an NYC Public School Art Teacher. Her latest monograph, New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco is available here.


 Quote of the Week — Bruce Gilden

Great Reads in Photography: November 7, 2021 43
© Bruce Gilden, Japan, 1998 / Magnum Photos

The above photo is from Cherry Blossom by Bruce Gilden, published by Thames & Hudson.

If you can’t smell the street, it’s not a street photograph. – Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden joined Magnum Photos in 1998. His work has been exhibited widely around the world and is part of many permanent collections such as MoMA, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Contemporary American photographer Joel Meyerowitz has this to say about Gilden: “He’s a f**king bully. I despise the work, I despise the attitude, he’s an aggressive bully, and all the pictures look alike because he only has one idea— ‘I’m gonna embarrass you, I’m going to humiliate you.’ I’m sorry, but no.”


To see an archive of past issues of Great Reads in Photography, click here.


We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.


Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies. Portions of header photo via Depositphotos.

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ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 44

The iPhone has been the best smartphone for video capture for some time, and the iPhone 13 Pro is no different — it’s currently our pick in that category. So, naturally, adding ProRes 4:2:2 10-bit capability only makes that better, right?

The short answer to that is yes: totally. The long answer is a bit more complicated than that.

What is ProRes, and Why Should I Shoot in It?

I’ve shot several clips with the iPhone 13 Pro in ProRes in the native camera app and have examined the files closely over the course of the last couple of weeks. What I have found is that, in most cases, those shooting video this way won’t really notice a lot of differences between the standard video format and the new ProRes option. This is actually less of a knock on the ability to capture ProRes as it is an endorsement of the basic video capabilities of the iPhone 13 Pro.

ProRes is a file format that has a very high data rate that preserves the detail in high-dynamic-range imagery generated by the latest sensors. ProRes HQ preserves dynamic range several times greater than typical video files and has widespread adoption across the professional cinema landscape. This codec supports full-width, 4:2:2 video sources at 10-bit pixel depths, while remaining visually lossless through many generations of decoding and re-encoding.

As a bit of background on why you should care what I think about this, I owned and operated a video production company out of San Francisco for the better part of eight years and have worked with pretty much every camera system that came out over that period of time. From Canon DSLRs through RED cinema cameras, my team and I used what was the best fit for a client’s project.

In some cases, that absolutely meant an iPhone. In others, the Panasonic GH5. Suffice it to say, I’ve seen and worked with hundreds upon hundreds of hours of different video clips from every major manufacturer.

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 45

One thing that has always held constant across all cameras is that if I wasn’t already shooting in RAW video, the only reason to shoot in 10-bit 4:2:2 was if I was also planning to color grade that footage, in which case I would shoot in log. A log profile, or logarithmic profile, is a gamma curve shooting profile on cameras that provides wider dynamic and tonal range.

Shooting in log captures more data in the shadows and highlights so there is significantly more latitude when adjusting color and exposure in post. Shooting this way is a bad idea if you aren’t capturing as much data as possible, hence why I always shot in 10-bit 4:2:2 any time I was shooting in log. You can sometimes get away with 10-bit 4:2:0, but I’ve seen log footage absolutely fall apart with very little post-production applied when captured in 8-bit 4:2:0.

Likewise, if I wasn’t shooting in log, that meant I didn’t plan to color grade and there was almost never a point in attempting to record that much data.

Is there an advantage to shooting in ProRes HQ 4:2:2 10-bit when not capturing log? Technically, yes, I suppose so. Some argue that regardless if you plan to color grade or not, the detail preservation in fine motion that comes with ProRes is worth it. However, I think that for most people outside of high-end cases, it’s much less obvious and usually not worth the extra file sizes.

And boy, are those files sizes extra when it comes to ProRes on the iPhone.

More Data Always Means Better Video Quality

That brings us to the iPhone 13 Pro and its 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ codec. This is a beastly codec that chews through storage on high-end professional camcorders and that’s no different when applied to the iPhone.

At 4K and 24p, the data rate is 704 MB/s and at 4K and 30p, it’s 760 MB/s. A 4K file will require just under 6 GB of storage for each minute of footage captured. In Full HD 1080 at 30p, the storage rate is about 1.7GB per minute of video.

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 46

To put that in perspective, a 10 second 4K 24p clip shot in Apple’s standard profile is 24.3 MB. The same 10-second clip shot on ProRes is 781.6 MB.

Comparing footage side by side in a variety of lighting conditions, I only saw a meaningful difference in what I would define as “complicated” lighting and color environments. In my examples below, both were color graded to push the files.

To start with, let’s look at what I would call a “normal” scene captured outside. Below are two stills from clips I captured one after the other, and I challenge you to tell me the difference between the ProRes and the standard versions.

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 47
Standard
ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 48
ProRes

But complicate the set a bit, and ProRes does stand out as better.

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 49
Standard
ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 50
ProRes

In this second set, the nuance of color is more defined in the ProRes file, which is most obvious when you look at the gradations of color on the nebula on my left-side computer monitor. The shadows are also slightly improved on the ProRes side, though I imagine this would become even more pronounced had the iPhone’s native app allowed me to capture both options in log.

Looking at single frames isn’t the best way to gauge quality, and I recognize that. ProRes will actually capture fine motion better too, but you really have to be looking for it in order to see it. Falling rain, blades of grass blowing in the wind, or mud kicked up by tires all will have much better-defined pixels that will stand up to scrutiny. How often will iPhone footage of these kinds of things be subject to that level of scrutiny? I say rarely, but that’s up to the creator to decide. If this kind of detail is important to you, ProRes is a must.

Another thing that ProRes did seem to give me are clips that are slightly less over-sharpened. I do mean slightly, but looking closely, I think the ProRes files generally look more natural and more like a dedicated video camera. That’s not to say there still aren’t problems that are endemic to tiny smartphone sensors though that will show up regardless of your format. Shadows and low-light environments get very noisy very quickly, and that’s not something you can fix in post very easily.

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Standard
ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 52
ProRes

Yearning for More

I mentioned log and that kind of connects to my overall wishes for the shooting experience: I found myself wanting more. Apple’s interface is designed to be simple, but when I’m shooting footage I care about enough to capture ProRes, I want to have more options and more visibility.

Luckily, we have third-party apps for that. FiLMiC Pro, for example, gives a lot more professional of an interface with scopes, control over different frame rates and aspect ratios, and a lot more shooting options including multiple ProRes formats. It actually makes the iPhone feel like a dedicated video camera, which is awesome. The native iPhone camera app is fine, but it’s very basic. You can do a lot with it, but it’s not going to feel like shooting on a real camera does.

And that’s kind of the conundrum. The people who would benefit most from ProRes aren’t going to want to use Apple’s native app because of that simple interface, and those who probably would be just fine using the native video codec won’t really need the much more out of the camera app.

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FiLMiC Pro

I guess what I’m saying is that the folks who benefit the most from Apple enabling ProRes are FiLMiC Pro — who made a great video capture app even better now — and its customers.

As mentioned, FiLMiC offers the ability to shoot in several different ProRes formats, including ProRes Proxy which offers 90% of the benefits at one-fifth the storage capacity of ProRes HQ. I think that’s probably worth it, especially compared to the bear that is ProRes HQ. FiLMiC is also working on enabling its iPhone log profile in ProRes, which I think would be a great addition.

Workflow Needs Work

If you’re shooting and editing entirely on your iPhone, you’re probably not going to have any issues with the workflow. If you’re planning to edit on your computer, however, it’s not the best experience. First of all, most people will want to turn off HDR video capture if they aren’t editing in an HDR-friendly system. Premiere Pro is a pain in this regard, but Final Cut makes it a bit easier.

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 54

The main issue for me is the bottleneck that happens when you try and move footage off the iPhone. You can use a Lightning connection, but the transfer rates are pretty slow: it caps out at USB 2.0 speeds. You could also passively upload footage using iCloud, but I don’t know many editors who shoot footage and are willing to wait a day to get to a place where they could download them on top of the time that download would take.

The other option is to use AirDrop, and while I found this to be very stable even with a bunch of files, it bogged down my WiFi connection so my computer was pretty useless during the transfer process and it took a very long time: about 10 minutes to transfer 8.5GB of footage. In contrast, it took 12 seconds to move that same batch of files onto my Thunderbolt hard drive array after they were AirDropped onto my iMac.

USB-C would have been a boon here, and I found myself quite jealous of the iPads that have already ditched Lightning for it.

A Great Camera for Video is Even Better

I want to make two things clear:

  1. I don’t think most people really need to shoot in ProRes HQ on the iPhone.
  2. I think adding ProRes HQ to the iPhone is a great thing.

Confusing, right? I can’t fault Apple for adding an outstanding video profile to the iPhone. Quite the contrary, actually, I give them a lot of praise for it because it legitimately makes the iPhone better. Even if most people won’t have any use for it, those who make content in FiLMiC Pro are going to absolutely love having access to this format. That’s not to say shooting ProRes on the native app doesn’t have its advantages, they’re just a lot less apparent and often not worth the data rate tradeoff.

ProRes on iPhone 13 Pro Review: Great Smartphone Video Gets Better 55

Are There Alternatives?

Right now the iPhone is pretty much it when it comes to having access to this high-quality of a codec. As mentioned, the experience is actually better when using FiLMiC Pro because you can shoot in ProRes Proxy, but FiLMiC required Apple’s hardware acceleration in order to offer ProRes as a capture format to begin with; so applause for everyone.

Should You Use It?

Yes, if you’re shooting through a third-party app that supports ProRes LT or ProRes Proxy. A log profile would be nice, too. If you’re planning to just capture ProRes HQ footage using the camera app, the standard video files are already pretty darn good and ProRes doesn’t often make that much of an appreciable difference that is worth the tradeoff of massive file sizes.

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Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021 56

Every Sunday, we bring together a collection of easy-reading articles from analytical to how-to to photo features in no particular order that did not make our regular daily coverage. Enjoy!


The Nikon Z9’s New Sensor Could be the Start of a Big Shift in Photography – The Verge

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021 57
The Z9 provides blackout-free viewing from its stacked CMOS sensor and one of the fastest readout rates of full-frame cameras. GIF: Nikon

From The Verge:
Nikon has made no mention of things like computational photography for HDR-style photos or the cyclical buffering that smartphones do to simultaneously capture up to nine or ten frames and combine them with each press of the shutter button. But the new 45.7-megapixel full-frame backside-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor isn’t far off from what has been in phones for years, at least in terms of the core design. This kind of construction uses a sandwiched architecture of sensor, logic board, and dedicated RAM — yielding incredibly fast readout speeds.


Polaroid’s New Camera Is Great for Pros, Bad for Idiots (Like Me) – Gizmodo

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021 58
Polaroid Now+ courtesy Polaroid

With the new $150 Polaroid Now+, Polaroid has once again tinkered with that time-honored formula to make its famously intuitive camera a little bit more feature-rich, loading it up with new creative tools that boost the camera’s core functionality and allow savvy photographers greater remote creative control over the photos they produce. In other words, the camera that was once idiot-proof is now less so, which is great news for seasoned photogs and bad news for me, an idiot. — Gizmodo

Also, The Polaroid Now+ Takes the Classic Polaroid Camera to a Whole New LevelCNN Underscored 


A Photographer Captures American Protests — And Iconic Images From Jan. 6 — BuzzFeed

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021 59
© Mel D. Cole

Mel D. Cole has spent the last 20 years documenting music, nightlife and more. In April 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Cole started driving around New York City, documenting the streets. But when George Floyd died after being pinned to the ground by an officer’s knee, Cole dedicated the rest of 2020 and beyond to photographing the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country and their ramifications.

The body of work he has produced from the electrifying summer of 2020 and beyond is a powerful outpouring of the hurt, outrage and courage of people compelled to act. Inspired by the black-and-white documentary tradition of the 1960s, Cole seeks to create what he calls “a collective memory” that continues the civil rights movement’s legacy.

American Protest: Photographs 2020 – 2021 by Mel D. Cole is published by Damiani.


A Photographer Captured the Art of Bloodless Bullfighting in Texas for Over a Decade – NPR

Karla Santoyo faces a bull in the Santa Maria Bullring July 2, 2016.
Karla Santoyo faces a bull in the Santa Maria Bullring on July 2, 2016. © Katie Hayes Luke

Katie Hayes Luke has been photographing the bloodless bullfights at La Querencia ranch in south Texas for the last 13 years.

David Renk attaches flowers to the back of the bulls before a fight February 13, 2011. To be considered a successful fight, the matador(a) must pull the flower from the back of the bull to symbolize a clean kill.
David Renk attaches flowers to the back of the bulls before a fight on February 13, 2011. To be considered a successful fight, the matador(a) must pull the flower from the bull’s back to symbolize a clean kill. © Katie Hayes Luke

In the United States, it is illegal to kill a bull, and therefore the fights are run differently than in Spain, where it is defined as an art form or cultural event.

Matador Cayetano Delgado touches between the shoulders on the back of the bull to symbolize the end of the bullfight with a “kill.” January 12, 2020. (Katie Hayes Luke)
Matador Cayetano Delgado touches between the shoulders on the bull’s back to symbolize the end of the bullfight with a “kill” on January 12, 2020. © Katie Hayes Luke

Intimate Photos of Cindy Sherman Like You’ve Never Seen Her Before – AnOther

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021 60
Contact – Cindy Sherman Photography by Jeannette Montgomery Barron

From AnOther:
On 31 October 1985, photographer Jeannette Montgomery Barron arrived at Cindy Sherman’s studio in downtown New York to photograph her as few had seen her before – as she was, unadorned. Gone were the wigs, the theatrical make-up, and the props that Sherman used to transform herself into a vast array of female personas brought to life in her art. In the course of an hour, Baron created 40 black and white portraits of the artist, now brought together in Cindy Sherman: Contact (NJG), a limited edition of 400 books and 20 portfolios.

“She seemed very comfortable being photographed by me. I hope she was,” says Jeannette Montgomery Barron, remembering the fateful encounter with the artist on Halloween 1985.

Read also: Cindy Sherman Photograph Sells for $3.8 Million, Setting New Record


A ‘Time Capsule’ of Lost Photographs of the Black Panthers, Found 50 Years LaterCreative Boom

After his mother passed away in 2018, Jeffrey Henson Scales made a surprising discovery while helping to clear out the family home. The photographer and photo editor for the New York Times found 40 rolls of film, which included forgotten images of the Black Panther Party and its founding members.

“I hadn’t seen them since the 1960s and was struck by not only my origin story as a photographer but also the new urgency these images and the civil rights movement takes on in the context of today’s ongoing struggle for racial justice,” Scales tells Creative Boom.

Also, How a Surprise Discovery of Photographs From the 1960s Meets the Moment – The New York Times (Subscription required)


National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs – ArtfixDaily

A cassowary peers through foliage in northeast Queensland, Australia.
Christian Ziegler © A cassowary peers through the foliage in northeast Queensland, Australia, courtesy National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs

The new National Geographic exhibition, National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs, displays the very best wildlife pictures from the pages of National Geographic magazine. Curated by renowned nature picture editor Kathy Moran, this exhibition is a celebratory look at wildlife with images taken by National Geographic’s most iconic photographers such as Michael “Nick” Nichols, Steve Winter, Paul Nicklen, Beverly Joubert, David Doubilet and more. These images that showcase photography’s evolution convey how innovations such as camera traps, remote imaging, and underwater technology have granted photographers access to wildlife in their natural habitat.

A Kermode bear eats a fish in a moss-draped rain forest.
Paul Nicklen © A Kermode bear eats a fish in a moss-draped rain forest, courtesy National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs

For 130 years, National Geographic has utilized its storytelling expertise to connect its readers to the great outdoors. The organization has pioneered the art of wildlife photography ever since the first image to appear in National Geographic magazine of a reindeer in 1903.

National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs will remain open at the National Museum of Wildlife Art from Nov 6, 2021 – Apr 24, 2022.


Parents Outraged Over School Picture Day ‘Retouch’ Trend – New York Post

serious 6-year old boy with red hair and freckles asking for silence with his finger on lips, frowning to act like a teacher, grey background
Sample photos for DEMONSTRATION ONLY and not connected with the reporting in the NYPost. Elements of stock photo licensed via Depositphotos

From New York Post
Jennifer Greene doesn’t want her 12-year-old daughter, Madeline, to feel pressured into looking picture-perfect.

So, when the Maryland mom opened the seventh-grader’s school picture package from photography company Lifetouch and saw it urged parents to lay out an extra $12 for portrait “retouching” services — including teeth whitening, skin-tone evening and blemish removal — she freaked.

“I was shocked,” Greene, 43, told The Post.

“I completely disagree with [retouching a child’s school picture], because it’s teaching kids that they need to look perfect all the time and that they can change [a perceived flaw] with the click of a mouse.”

Retouching options on school portraits aren’t new — but they’re now being offered to students as young as pre-K and are becoming as ubiquitous as face-altering filters on social media, which have triggered a spike in anxiety and depression in teen girls.


Guide to Contemporary Photography — Shotkit

From ShotKit
Contemporary photography is a category that encompasses fine art photography created after the late 1960s – when modern photography ended.

If you want to know more about the history of photography, I recommend the books of John Szarkowski. He was the director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he was one of the most influential historians, curators and critics.

Contemporary art entails any artwork – whether it’s performance, video, sculpture, painting, etc., created in the past few decades up until the present day.

The exact origin is still debated, but most historians consider it at the end of the 1960s or the early 70s. Despite the somewhat precise date range, it refers to the period that follows modernism.


Fill the Frame’ Documentary Explores Social Media’s Influence on Street Photography – Amateur Photographer

A new film, Fill the Frame, by director and keen street photographer Tim Huynh, shows some of the challenges of street photography.

Huynh focuses on the work of eight New York-based amateur street photographers Paul Kessel, Jonathan Higbee, Dimitri Mellos, Mathias Wasik, Melissa O’Shaughnessy, Melissa Breyer, Julia Gillard and Lauren Welles.

“I’m seeing the fine art street photography approach (Saul Leiter’s work, for example) gaining more popularity than the Garry Winogrand traditional style of street photography… where the images will predominantly combine deep dark shadows, vibrant colors and architecture, and where the photographer is further back from the subject,” Huynh tells Amateur Photographer.

“Anyone looking to always find the glory shot will be sorely disappointed. If you do street to receive some kind of glorification, I suggest you rethink your purpose. Just enjoy the fact you have this interest and ability to roam the streets and make art happen, capture that moment that only you saw.”


‘I Call It Fire Brain’: What It’s Like to Photograph the West’s Biggest WildfiresGizmodo

Embed from Getty Images
Josh Edelson shot corporate events, headshots and general advertising. Once the pandemic hit, all that work vanished, and news became most of his work.

“I enjoy covering a protest, but where I really feel passionate is covering things related to the climate: floods, fires, and things like that,” Edelson tells Gizmodo.

“I don’t know if it’s a healthy thing, but I feel like the camera, in many ways, is sort of an emotional barrier. I don’t often process everything that I experienced until after, like after I leave the fire…

“I’m thinking, where’s the fire moving? Am I safe here? Do I have an exit? Are the power lines above? Are there any trees that are about to fall? Are there propane tanks nearby? Go to 1/500th of a second, f-stop 4, ISO’s too high. Step back; the windows are going to blow out.

“It happens fast. Sometimes a home will catch fire, and in 20 minutes, it’s down… Safety is obviously at the top of my mind. Also…staying out of the way of firefighters.

“If I’m photographing a person coming home to a burned home, I always try and get some sort of at least non-verbal confirmation that they acknowledge my presence. I try not to get too close. When people are crying, the last thing they want is a camera right in their face. There’s a balancing act between getting solid photos and respecting people’s privacy.”


Photoshop 2022: 9 New Features with Pros & Cons! — PiXimperfect

2021 has been a year of AI, and with Photoshop 2022 (version 23.0), Adobe has released many features that use machine learning, powered by Adobe Sensei, and claim to make most things automatic.

This video, by PiXimperfect, hosted by Unmesh Dinda, explores what these new features are and whether they are effective or not.

Also, Adobe Photoshop 2022 Top New Features in 9 Minutes! – Photoshop Training Channel


22 Self-Portrait Ideas to Get You Inspired – Digital Photography School

Young woman with grey hair dancing and celebrate. Colored gel portraits
Depositphotos

Are you looking for self-portrait ideas so you can create powerful, eye-catching results?

Below are just 3 of 22 ideas on how to improve your self-portrait game.
1.) Experiment with reflection
2.) Experiment with objects in front of the lens
3.) Try framing


Great Read From the Past – 2017

How Did Peter Hurley Become a Photographer? — Rangefinder

When I was younger, I was training for the Olympics in sailing. Polo wanted real sailors for a campaign they were doing that Bruce Weber was shooting, and I went over and got the job. I didn’t know anything about photography at the time or who Bruce was, but from there, I got into modeling, and one day Bruce was like, ‘Why don’t you pick up a camera?’ He was one of the people that really encouraged me. I value that immensely, but I also just love his work. – Peter Hurley in Rangefinder.

Read also:
How to Light Headshots: Five Tips from Peter Hurley
5 Quick Headshot Tips in 3 Minutes by Photographer Peter Hurley


Photo of the Week

Embed from Getty Images
The winner of the scariest costume category with “Maleficent” celebrates during the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade at East River Park Amphitheater in New York on October 23, 2021. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)


Quiz of the Week
1.) Can a high-end digital camera function without a mechanical shutter?

2.) Which manufacturer recently released two zoom lenses and claimed they were the lightest in their class?

3.) Is there a Sigma zoom lens that costs over $25,000? Hint: It weighs 35 lbs. and needs a battery to work.

Answers
1.) Yes, the new Nikon Z9 does.

2.) Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 1,355 g and Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 630 g.

3.) Yes, the Sigma APO 200-500mm f/2.8 with 2x Teleconverter. Sigma first showed this lens at PMA in Jan 2008 in Las Vegas. It is still in production but is a special-order item at Adorama.


Why I Like This Photo – Cameron Dever

Great Reads in Photography: October 31, 2021 61
© Cameron Dever

I like this photo because not only is it compositionally interesting and beautiful, but also it symbolizes love and connection and what it’s like to be in a relationship. It was a completely experimental shot too, so it became more than what it was originally intended to be when it came out like this. It became more symbolic than just a regular photo of a couple.

I think it’s very important to know how to compose an image and work with light of all kinds, composition, color, and all of the technical aspects of photography. When you do that, your voice and instincts as an artist kick in, and you really make some magical, unique images. That’s what happened with this photo for me. I decided to play with motion blur and turn the camera as I shot. Simple, but it created something amazing.

I shoot on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV for all of my digital images. For film, I mainly shoot on a Canon EOS Rebel 2000 and various other film cameras I pick up at thrift stores. All my images are currently shot on a 35mm lens. I’m not big into artificial lighting other than the flash I stick on my cameras. So that’s the only artificial light I use for my photography.

This photo was taken in 2020, and it was during an engagement session. Like I said previously, it was a complete experiment, and I just hoped it came out when I took it. It was a pleasant surprise.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I like to share is just to take photographs as much as possible. And experiment with different things when you do. Both of those things help you find your voice, and when you find your voice in your art is when you become a valuable, unique artist. I highly recommend reading Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist, which covers what I just said and so much more.

Cameron Dever, a wedding and commercial photographer, was born in Mesa, Arizona. The desert was home for 19 years until she moved to Utah. She received her first camera for Christmas when she was 15 years old and has been photographing ever since. Dever did a year and a half at ASU with a business entrepreneurship degree but quickly realized that photography always was and will be her passion and ultimately graduated from BYU with a photography degree. She was married last summer to her husband Nathan and now lives in a little vintage apartment with their cat noodle. She enjoys thrifting, traveling, rock climbing, hiking, and trying new Thai food places when she’s not taking photos. 


Quote of the Week – Chris Johns

QC/Retouched by CWL very grainy image
A giraffe walking in a misty forest in the Ndumu Game Reserve. © Chris Johns

The above photo is from National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY, from Nov 6, 2021 – Apr 24, 2022.

Today, taking a photograph is easier than it has ever been, but that does not mean just anyone can create a powerful body of work that informs and emotionally touches people.* – Chris Johns

* Griz Chat with former National Geographic Editor Chris Johns, April 2020

Chris Johns (b. 1951) is a photographer and former editor-in-chief for National Geographic Magazine from 2005-2014. He spent many years in Africa for the magazine and is the first photographer to have been named its editor-in-chief. Johns is the former distinguished professor at the Univ. of Montana and taught a course in conservation journalism, examining the powerful impact visual storytelling has had in the conservation movement.


To see an archive of past issues of Great Reads in Photography, click here.


We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.


Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies. Portions of header photo via Depositphotos.

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What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer

What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer

What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer 62

When casting a model, several factors are at play. Some cast models based on how they look, others cast them based on who they know. But, what is a good model? Are there traits that good models share? Here are some that I have noticed.

Great Personality

First up, no one likes working with someone who isn’t fun to be with. Because there is a lot of different possibilities with who to work with, having a great memorable persona is sometimes the final element that’s needed for a successful project.

Some of the best models that I worked with are friendly, open-minded, and overall just fun to be around. Curiosity and interest in the photoshoot go a long way in facilitating a fun great time for everyone.

That’s why I try to read the model’s personality as much as possible before bringing them on. It is quite important to know they will be interested, and happy to participate. If possible, talk to the model before you sign them on. Ideally, there is an introductory video the agency can provide as well.

What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer 63
Photo: Illya Ovchar // @illyaovcharphoto
Hair&Makeup: Karina Jemelyjanova // @karinajemelyjanova
Model: Francesca // @frxnciska
Agency: Face Model Management Hungary // @facemodelmanagementhungary
Post-Production: Zahar // @justlike_magic

Open-Mindedness

An open-minded model can easily adapt to new scenarios, try out new looks, and not be afraid to push themselves. This is vital as every job is different, the creative vision you have must be perceived with as little judgment and as much curiosity as possible. Being open-minded to the creative vision of the makeup artist, stylist, and yourself is important for any model.

What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer 64
Photo: Illya Ovchar // @illyaovcharphoto
Hair&Makeup: Karina Jemelyjanova // @karinajemelyjanova
Model: Francesca // @frxnciska
Agency: Face Model Management Hungary // @facemodelmanagementhungary
Post-Production: Zahar // @justlike_magic

Authenticity

A model is ideally authentic about themselves, both visually and mentally. A fake persona of a “perfect model” only destroys the talent they possess. When selecting a model, look more at their Polaroids and less at their past work. You want to make sure that the model you cast is who they appear on the card. I’ve had several instances of models looking nothing like the card, which led me to interesting albeit unwanted results.

Expressiveness

A good model should be expressive. Although not an actress, they should be able to communicate character. I found it to be incredible when a model imagines themselves in a role and then plays that role on camera. The images suddenly gain a new dimension, a very human dimension of connection.

Having this connection can go a long way in helping you create images that speak to your audience and communicate meaning. Peter Lindbergh‘s work does this particularly well, he was able to make his models look real. His images are full of human emotion that is communicated straight from the model to the audience.

When selecting a model, look carefully at their images and try to seek out what they are saying with their pose or facial expression.

What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer 65
Photo: Illya Ovchar // @illyaovcharphoto @wonderfulmachine
Hair&Makeup: Alice Högberg // @som_alice
Styling: Alina Ellstrom // @Alinaellstrom
Model: Sanna Bjelm // @sannabjelm
Agency: Sweden Models Agency // @swedenmodelsagency
Post-Production: Zahar // @justlike_magic

Courage

This ties in with being open-minded. A model should be brave to try new things and not be afraid to express themselves. Each fashion look has a personality associated with it, being able to read that personality and make it come alive requires bravery as often the models are told what to do exactly.

Being brave on-set can also help create images that are unique. As a photographer, you want to encourage your models to try new poses, do something different. A good model always has some brave ideas in store.

No Judgement

The amount of judgment in the fashion industry is obscene. Everyone seems to just judge everyone else non-stop. Models judge the living daylights out of themselves. That can stem from them being uncomfortable with themselves, or someone making a rude remark.

Whatever the case is, make sure that the model is able to let go of all judgment and be themselves. A model who is not judging themselves will have a lot more fun, and hence you will have better images.

Interest in Fashion

The best models also love fashion. They themselves are fashionistas and know it inside out. I think it’s pretty simple to say that anyone working in the fashion industry should also like fashion. Why else would you do it? A model that is sensitive to fashion can adjust their posing to fit the style. A model who is really sensitive to fashion can adapt their character to fit the garments.

What Makes a Great Model? Things to Look for as a Photographer 66
Photo: Illya Ovchar // @illyaovcharphoto @wonderfulmachine
Hair&Makeup: Alice Högberg // @som_alice
Styling: Alina Ellstrom // @Alinaellstrom
Model: Sanna Bjelm // @sannabjelm
Agency: Sweden Models Agency // @swedenmodelsagency
Post-Production: Zahar // @justlike_magic

Good Agency

I talked about personality traits that constitute a good model. But there are other, much more prominent things that define a good model. Being signed with a good agency is one of them. It’s easy to tell if an agency is good just by looking at the work they do. Do they have major magazine features? Known commercials? Famous runway shows?

There are unfortunately a lot of agencies that sign models without ever giving them work. That means the people there will likely not have experience. You want to keep reaching out to the best agencies in town with your work to make connections and be able to get models for personal shoots on a TFP agreement.

Naturally, as you get better, the agencies you work with get better too. If you really don’t know anyone, you can try working with independent models too. Personally, I found that working with agency models is a lot more reliable.

A Word on Physique

I didn’t mention how the model looks. At all. This is deliberate. Looks alone can never ever define a good model. Although models are known for how they look, their career alone is never built on that. When choosing a model, the first thing you see is physique, but try to look far beyond it. Try to figure out what sort of person they are. One of the photographers I know and admire, Rankin, told me he rarely casts models based on how they look it’s all about who they are as a person.

So, as a photographer, you should be looking at a model as a person who can make or break your images. Try to find someone who is curious, open-minded, interested, and ideally in a good agency. Look beyond the physique, it’s 2021.

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Leica R7: a great Leica for less

Leica R7: a great Leica for less

October 29, 2021

Leica’s film SLRs from the ’90s won’t win so many cool points, but the R7 is a real workhorse, with quality, affordable lenses. Geoff Harris reflects on owning one


Leica R7: a great Leica for less 67Leica R7: at a glance

* £1,500 when new (approx)
* £200-400 second-hand
* 35mm film SLR
* Leica R mount
* Manual focus
* Pattern or spot metering
* TTL flash metering
* DX coded or manual ISO setting
* 1/2000th max shutter speed
* Needs four silver oxide 1.5V batteries or two 3V lithium cells
* Weighs 670g body only


The R series of 35mm film SLRs remains a very cost-effective way of building a Leica system without having to sell your organs or remortgage the house. They aren’t as cool and iconic as M-series rangefinders, but these cameras are well-made workhorses that take a wide choice of quality glass at reasonable prices.

The camera we’re looking at here, the Leica R7, came out in 1992 and you can find a mint model from a dealer for around £300, usually with a warranty; the roughly contemporaneous Leica M6 rangefinder costs over £2,000 on eBay. You do the maths.

I became interested in the R series for the above reasons, having succumbed to the red-dot cult after using Leica’s excellent digital CL.

I started out with the purely mechanical R6 because I was looking for a more ‘pure’ photographic experience after years of trigger-happy digital shooting. The R6 is an intriguing camera for the JPEG generation, as it works without batteries; furthermore, its Mastodon-like build quality can withstand the toughest of conditions, which is why Salgado used it to cover the burning of the Iraqi oil wells in 1991.

Recently I also acquired a spotless R7 from Park Cameras

Leica R7: a great Leica for less 68

Tour guide, Tintern Abbey, Summicron R 50mm f/2, Ektar film

Features
First, some background. The R7 was the seventh iteration in the R series of SLRs; Leica needed another market apart from rangefinders and had been in partnership with Minolta for a while. The camera was relatively ‘advanced’ compared to its bare-bones predecessors, the R6 and R6.2. The R7 needs batteries to work, for example, and more importantly offers program, aperture priority and shutter priority modes.

As for other new-fangled stuff like AF, Leica still said ‘nein, danke’ – the R7 is manual focus. The R7 does offer full TTL flash automation, however, and DX film sensitivity recognition. Otherwise, the differences between the R6/6.2 and R7 are not that big.

In use, the R7 is a solid and pleasing camera, albeit one with a few quirks – or expressions of character, depending on your point of view.

It’s not a big problem but the film loading is a bit unusual and takes some getting used to

Film loading, for example, involves slotting the film leader into two small slots and then pulling the film over to the left. It takes some getting used to. Apparently Leica designed it this way so that you can quickly load film with one hand, but it solved one ‘problem’ by creating another. While the read-outs on the viewfinder are clear, the on-camera windows for ISO, exposure compensation and shooting modes are titchy, and easy to mis-read if you forget your glasses.

The film rewind lever feels plasticky too, and contrasts with the very solid build of the rest of the camera. You will need two 3V lithium cells to power the R7 – though you can still shoot at 1/100th second or bulb mode without – and some users complain the camera is quite heavy at 670g. It’s taller than the R6 too.

I have big hands and it’s not much heavier than an M10 Monochrom, so I don’t mind this.

These are the main downsides, however, and they are hardly deal-breakers if you can live without AF. The R7 is great to use; everything falls to hand logically, and the lovely Leica viewfinder is bright and clear.

An easily adjustable dioptre helps match your eyesight, and manually focusing R lenses is very straightforward, even more so if you use zone focusing (more on the lenses later). Extra focusing screens are easily found, such as those with grids to help composition, but they are very delicate and not that easy to fit – I learned the hard way and ended up going to a specialist camera shop.

The metering system seems very reliable and it is handy to be able to shoot in aperture or program mode when trying to capture fast-moving street scenes, for example. Selective/spot mode is only available in aperture priority and manual modes, however.

Leica R7: a great Leica for less 69

The Summicron 50mm lens is very sharp. Bedminster, Bristol, Ektar film

Great glass
While the camera is solid and nice to use, there is nothing particularly special about it compared to rival Japanese SLRs from the period, including price. What really sold me on the R system was the quality of the lenses.

You can pick up R-series glass for the fraction of the cost of M-series gear, and they really deliver the goods: smooth aperture and focusing rings, attractive contrast, bokeh and, crucially, very acceptable sharpness.

Whether R-series lenses are as good as their M equivalents is hotly debated online, but according to the Leica expert Erwin Puts, writing in 2003, ‘The Summicron-R 50mm f/2 is almost identical in optical construction with its counterpart in the M system. It is one of the two or three best standard lenses in the world.’ This particular lens cost me £250, which, if Puts was right, makes it something of a bargain. I also bagged a 35mm f/2.8 Elmarit for similar money, and both work well on my digital Leica CL via a cheap Fotasy adapter and judicious focus peaking.

Leica R7: a great Leica for less 70

Bristol, 35mm Elmarit, Ilford HP5

Final thoughts
To conclude. If you are looking for something different from a classic, but rather predictable, film SLR, such as the Nikon F100 or Olympus OM, the Leica R7 is a great choice. It’s not the cheapest film SLR by a long stretch, but it is good value considering how much you’d pay for a Leica M-system model from the same era (and it won’t lose its value).

The camera is very well made, generally enjoyable to use, and the lenses are outstanding. Whether to buy the R7 or the older R6 comes down to how much you want a mechanical camera, and whether you’re willing to take the chance of ending up with an expensive paperweight should the ’90s electronics fail. I’m taking this risk because the R7’s P, S and A modes are genuinely useful, and the camera didn’t cost a bomb to begin with.

As for the R8, it’s even more advanced, but looks like a 1950s Kodak Brownie on steroids. With demand for vintage Leica gear growing year by year, and R-series lenses being sought after by film makers seeking the classic look, now is a good time to buy an R7 before prices get silly.

Leica R7: a great Leica for less 71

The Summicron R 50mm also works well on my digital Leica CL via an adaptor.


Further reading
Best 35mm film cameras

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Great album photography: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

Album cover for Wish you were here pink floyd

October 29, 2021

Steve Fairclough uncovers the story of the legendary image for Pink Floyd’s 1975 album cover for Wish You Were Here


Fact File: Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here

Musicians: Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Dick Parry (saxophones, Shine On You Crazy Diamond), Roy Harper (lead vocals, Have a Cigar), Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams (backing vocals).

Released: 12 September 1975, UK (Harvest Records), 13 September 1975, US (Columbia Records)

Charts: No. 1 in the US, UK, Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain

Sales: Over 20,000,000

Fascinating fact: At 4am on the evening of the cover shoot Powell left a party with assistant Peter Christopherson and noticed mist at the front of the Cadillac. Powell reveals, ‘Peter said, “your car’s on fire”. I stopped the car and we jumped out. The car exploded and burnt to the ground. We’d just done this dangerous fire stunt and here we were coming from a party and the car caught fire.’


Great album photography: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd 72

Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell began his career in the mid-1960s as a set designer. He shared an apartment with Storm Thorgerson and the two co-founded Hipgnosis in 1967. Hipgnosis thrived and produced many LP covers. He progressed on to making music videos, TV commercials, documentaries and corporate films but in 2014 returned to album design for Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell 20th anniversary box set.


Wish You Were Here, the ninth studio album by the legendary rock band Pink Floyd, saw chief songwriter Roger Waters exploring themes of absence, alienation and the band’s melancholy following the departure of former guitarist Syd Barrett, due to his mental health issues, in 1968. It was also, in places, a searing critique of a cynical music business.

As with the iconic light prism design for Pink Floyd’s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon the design was handled by the Hipgnosis agency, which had been co-founded by the late Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell. Powell explains, ‘I photographed all of the pictures on the album.

Album cover for Wish you were here pink floyd

They were shot in ’75 during a Pink Floyd tour of America. We flew to California and Storm had already presented the band with the ideas, which were sketches that I’d done, at Abbey Road Studios. He was very nervous showing them but when he finished he got a round of applause from the band.’

Powell reveals, ‘We’d heard tracks up at Abbey Road Studios and we knew what Roger Waters’ concept of it was. We knew his idea was very much about absence and Shine On You Crazy Diamond really came from the loss of Syd Barrett. Barrett’s spectre still haunted Pink Floyd – the fact that he’d gone mad overnight and the band was left to fend for themselves had only been five or six years before.

On Dark Side of the Moon Roger had written about madness, loneliness, life on the road and all these rather in-depth subjects that transcended into Wish You Were Here – it’s a very deep album.’

faceless man

Storm Thorgerson said the faceless man is a ‘salesman selling his soul’ and features on the back. It was shot in the Yuma Desert. Said to represent earth, the absence of wrists and ankles is said to show him as an ‘empty suit’

In a 2012 TV documentary, The Making of Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd’s lead guitarist David Gilmour recalls, ‘We mostly, in those days, left it to Storm to come up with things [design ideas]… we would give him a desultory two minutes of our mixing time to say, “that one maybe, that one, not that, not that”. He came up with these [ideas]… from the lyrics, this theme of absence.’

The core idea for the album cover was to illustrate the cynical nature of the music business at that time. Powell explains, ‘The album being about absence and insincerity gave way to Storm’s idea about two businessmen shaking hands – one of them is being insincere and the other is getting burnt in the deal.

I’d said to Storm, “How are we going to do that?” as it wasn’t the days of digital retouching. He said, “I guess you’re going to have to burn a man for real.”’

Working with fire

When he got to LA, Powell interviewed stuntmen and recruited expert fire stuntmen Ronnie Rondell and Danny Rogers Jr. Powell recalls, ‘Rondell was the main “fire man” and he had so much charisma and strength of character. He said to me when he saw the [cover concept] drawing, “I never stand still to do a fire stunt. You have to be moving to keep the fire behind you… running, jumping or whatever.”

red veil shot represented air within the inner sleeve of wish you were here by pink floyd

The red veil shot represented air within the inner sleeve. © Hipgnosis/Aubrey Powell/Harvest Records/Columbia Record

I said, “Well, this has to be two men shaking hands, one on fire.” He said, “I can’t guarantee that. I’ll try it running and so on.” I didn’t want to lose him, so I agreed and thought I’d just have to busk it on the day.’

Rondell used his specialist team of fire stunt experts and the shoot was scheduled for the following Saturday at the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, California. Powell admits, ’It was a dangerous shoot to do. We started off doing pictures of him running towards camera on fire and it just wasn’t what we wanted.

It was an incredibly still afternoon so, after lunch, I said, “I really have to have you shaking hands. There’s no wind, it’s still.” Ronnie said, “Okay. We’ll try it.” They covered him in the flammable material and set him on fire. I had three cameras shooting, one after the other. Jeff [Smith] shot one, Powell’s assistant Peter [Christopherson] shot one and I was shooting on a Hasselblad – we just shot and shot and shot.’

wish you were

The square format version of the ‘splashless diver’ shot by Powell. Lake Mono, California

Powell was using Kodak colour transparency film and explains, ‘It was probably at a fairly high shutter speed because some of the shots were in sunlight and some were slightly in shadow. It was very bright with clear blue skies, so I would have been shooting at least at 1/250sec to get the flames sharp. I also wanted the depth-of-field so the buildings were sharp behind.

Half a stop could make a big difference, so we used to bracket. I’m shooting that in 20 seconds, so I’m going half a stop under, half a stop over, a stop under, a stop over and back to the centre. ‘Each time the fire lasted about 20 seconds because it blew up so quickly. Before the second time Rondell said, “I wasn’t so happy with that. I think we can do better.”

An outtake from the Wish You Were Here cover

An outtake from the Wish You Were Here cover shoot. © Hipgnosis/Aubrey Powell

So we did it again and that was really good. The third time a small gust of wind blew and blew round his face. He threw himself to the ground and his team was on top of him with blankets, with fire extinguishers and got him [put] out.

He’d burnt his eyebrows and singed his moustache – he was lucky he didn’t burn his face. He got up and said, “That’s it. No more.” But I knew I had the shot – it was fantastic. I was very pleased and he went away happy.’

Shrink-wrapping the cover

The final design twist on the theme of absence came with the decision to package the album in black shrink-wrap, obscuring the cover. The decision was hugely unpopular with US record firm Columbia Records, but it was over-ruled. EMI (of which Harvest Records was a subsidiary) in the UK was less concerned.

Powell explains, ‘Storm was always very smart at coming up with interesting ideas and he persuaded the band that why should they give away the content of the album?’

wish you were here pink floyd shrink wrap cover

The album in its black shrink-wrap covering as it appeared in record stores

He adds, ‘In big record stores where you had 10,000 albums you had to stand out and, of course, a black shrink-wrapped cover with a colourful central logo on it did stand out.

It had no name of the band on it other than on the label. George Hardie, who did all the graphics, designed that robotic handshaking, cold, AI kind of image (for the circular label). All those factors were reasons to put the shrink-wrapping on. Many people tore the wrapping off and, afterwards, regretted they’d not kept the wrapping. I’ve got one at home, which is intact.’

The classic photography for the album also took the theme of the four elements – fire, earth, air and water – for four images. The cover was fire, a splashless diver was water, an invisible nude model with a red scarf was air and a salesman standing in the desert was earth.

‘I’m very proud of the cover image but my favourite photo is the diver. I still have goose bumps thinking about that shot because it was just a magical moment. I knew I’d got an incredible shot.’


The panel on Wish You Were Here

Harry Borden

HARRY BORDEN

An unforgettable moment of my career was photographing David Gilmour in rehearsal doing a stripped-down version of Wish You Were Here. The disturbingly surreal image perfectly illustrates the eponymous song about founding member Syd Barrett (who suffered a drug-
induced breakdown).

Andy Cowles

Great album photography: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd 73

This sleeve remains as famous as the music. The serenity of the pose belies the burning tension between artist and management. It reflects outward appearances and private pain and, probably, Gilmour’s and Waters combustible relationship. It’s amazing it didn’t blow up in your hand!

Dr Andy Earl

Great album photography: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd 74

Wish You Were Here is a perfect example of how music throws up ideas, questions, feelings and personal interpretations. Hipgnosis’s vision captured that moment in this photograph where surrealism and madness gel together and produce a shocking, but humorous, image.

Our panel of judges

Some of the finest names in music and photography chose the series’ covers

Janette Beckmann
Jason Bell
Harry Borden
Ed Caraeff
Andy Cowles
Kevin Cummins
Dr Andy Earl
Jill Furmanovsky
Christie Goodwin
Peter Hook
Simon Larbalestier
Gered Mankowitz
Dennis Morris
Peter Neill
Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell
Rankin
Jamel Shabazz
Mat Snow
Howard Wakefield
Kirk Weddle
Rachael Wright


Further reading

Greatest album photography: Quadrophenia The Who

Greatest album photography: Parklife by Blur

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