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You’re history: historic photographers of the year revealed

You’re history: historic photographers of the year revealed

November 25, 2021

The winners of the Historic Photographer of the Year Awards 2021 were unveiled today by broadcaster and historian Dan Snow. The awards, which celebrate the best cultural sites and historic places across the globe, attracted a “huge swathe” of submissions from amateurs and professionals alike.

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The Overall Winner is Steve Liddiard for his shot of the Whiteford Point Lighthouse in the Gower Peninsula, south Wales (above).

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The Historic England category was won by Sam Binding’s atmospheric view of Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, captured during a misty sunrise, above.

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Meanwhile the Where History Happened category went to Iain McCallum for his picture of the wrecks of the Wastdale H and Arkendale H, which collided in the River Severn in October 1960 (above)

Commenting on the awards, judge Dan Snow said: “The wonderful entries we’ve seen highlight both the immense heritage that surrounds us, along with the often precarious and fragile nature of some of our most precious locations of cultural value. The awards demonstrate the huge dedication that entrants often go to when trying to capture that perfect shot, whether rising in the dead of night to capture the perfect sunrise or climbing, hiking and trekking their way to discover far flung places from our past.”

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Beyond the UK, shortlisted entries captured historical locations ranging from Uzbekistan’s Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum (below) and the Atomic Dome in Hiroshima, Japan (above), to Paestum’s ancient Temple of Hera which dates back to 460 BC.

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Entries were judged on originality, composition and technical proficiency alongside the story behind the submission and its historical impact. Another judge, Claudia Kenyatta, Director of Regions at Historic England said: “it’s been wonderful to see so many high-quality entries again this year, particularly given the challenges and restrictions faced by the photographers.”

“(The quality of the entries) was perhaps all the more poignant and redolent for the fact that there has been so much restriction, constraint and hardship for so many over the past couple of years,” said Dan Korn of Sky HISTORY, another sponsor. “But to see some of the wonderful work on display here and the iconic and significant sites from around the world captured so vividly was a sign that history and humanity are very much alive in all their splendour in 2021.”

See the full list of winners here: www.historicphotographeroftheyear.com | Instagram.com/historicphotographeroftheyear | @hpotyawards

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History of the ‘Dutch Angle’ and Why Movies Tilt the Camera

History of the 'Dutch Angle' and Why Movies Tilt the Camera

One of the deepest and most embedded “rules” of photography and videography is to ensure that horizon lines are straight. It is a practice so hardwired into most courses, seeing any deviation from this is deeply unsettling. And that’s the point.

In this five minute video from the creative team at Vox, dive into the origins of the tilted horizon, otherwise known as a “Dutch Angle,” and why this camera technique can be so useful for storytelling.

Typically when telling a story, to emphasize that something is “a little off” or confusing, the filmmakers will shift the camera off its axis to make the viewer feel as perplexed or uneasy as the character in the frame. The technique known as the Dutch Angle is not actually Dutch, but in fact Deutsch (German), and the style’s origins stem from fine art painters, not film and photography despite its much more widespread use there in pop culture.

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During World War I, German filmmakers were not influenced by Hollywood since foreign movie imports were banned at the time. Since these creatives had no access to western films, they turned to German Expressionism instead. In its early stages, the cameras remained static and level to the horizon, and the sets were built to be twisted and out of shape to add a nightmarish complexity and uneasiness to the frame. When these films came out, critics called them sensational, weird, and startling, which excited people to see more. As such, the tilts and angles got more extreme.

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As the interest in the shots grew, the filmmakers instead started to simply tilt the camera instead of building elaborate sets, and thus the “Dutch Angle” was born. This tilt is featured prominently in films like Citizen Kane, The Third Man, many of Hitchcock’s thrillers, and now it is used in nearly every film and commercial shot when the filmmaker is trying to convey a sense of confusion or anxiety. Vox explains that in films like Marvel’s 2011 Thor, the directors leaned so heavily into this technique that it was a crutch. Conversely, filmmakers like Spike Lee, Terry Gilliam, and Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas), all seem to have a master’s handle on it. In short, it should be used sparingly to highlight tension and distortion, underscoring the story’s dystopian confusion. If used too much, the audience becomes used to it and the effect is weakened.

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Modern Floral Still-Life Photos Influenced from 45,000 Year-Old History

Modern Floral Still-Life Photos Influenced from 45,000 Year-Old History

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Every photographer has a humble beginning. Somewhere in the awkwardness is a pivotal moment that sends their photographic trajectory barrelling forward. Mine began on the reefs of the Indo-Pacific with a pocket-sized DSLR and underwater housing. It became my invaluable fieldwork aid and took thousands of crooked pictures of coral polyps before succumbing to the sand and salt.

In a relatively short time, my preoccupation with photographs moved beyond recording coral and outshone my scientific aspirations. I know now that leaving fieldwork behind and swapping it for a camera didn’t profoundly change the direction of my life. It merely changed the language I use to share ideas and observations about the ecosystems I care so deeply for.

Just four years ago an archaeologist, Basran Burhan, and his team discovered something extraordinary while carrying out a survey on the island of Sulawesi. In a remote valley accessible only in the dry season, enclosed by limestone cliffs, they happened upon a cave painting that’s since been dated at 45,000 years old. The scene of three pigs enacting a narrative along with handprints above it is the oldest ever found and our earliest evidence of visual storytelling. These depictions are ancient insights into the creative minds of our ancestors and reveal how profoundly imagination goes hand in hand with being human.

Today in the studio I’m building sets and documenting them with my 8×10 camera. Drawing from personal experience and with the influence of 45,000 years of artists before me, I’m constructing my own narratives about the natural world. As an only child who spent her formative years in rural Canada mucking around in the woodland underbrush with all forms of life, it’s only fitting that flora and their symbolic meanings would be what captured my attention.

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The hollyhocks in my grandmother’s garden were a marvel. Tending to them was a full-time job I’d sometimes join her for during her later years and my very early ones. To her, they were a bold staple of an English country garden, to me, giants filled with all sorts of new insects inside their blooms and other creatures under their heavy leaves. The history of this plant and its uses stretch far beyond my formative years. The Romans ate its roots rich in sugar. In the Tudor era its blooms were steeped in wine and drunk to prevent miscarriages. Babies used to chew on the shoots to soothe teething pain. In the Victorian era the tall plants were placed near the privy so ladies needn’t ask around and could instead simply look for the hollyhocks.

The earliest known portrayals of flowers showed up about 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. The ever-popular lotus flower, still used today to represent rebirth and regeneration, was depicted on many objects of the time. They were found among the treasures of King Tut’s tomb, wound into dyed linen necklace strands along with poppies, sunflowers, and other blossoms, each included for its significance in guiding him to the afterlife.

Subsequent eras were punctuated by their own representations of plants, flowers, and trees. Medieval art had its millefleur tapestries of grouped figures on a backdrop of repeating floral patterns. The Renaissance saw large-scale mythological paintings teeming with blossoms and fruit.

From my deep dive into the history of floral artwork, I found the most poignant images were the still-life tableaus of the Dutch Golden Age. This period of growth and trade in the Netherlands brought wealth throughout the classes and combined with the weakening influence of the Catholic church, made room for art that responded to everyday life. The floral still-life paintings of the time depicted blooms from far-off places, few of which the average person would have seen. These paintings were not examples of reality, but imaginary and constructed bouquets of flowers that blossomed in varying places and times throughout the year. With skillful arrangement and grouping, a vessel and its contents could be grand and beautiful while echoing the philosophical climate of the time.

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Figs and snails carry with them a long resume of appearances throughout recorded time. The snail has been used in art as a representation of mortality and slowing down, power and gender, and observation of the natural environment. Salvador Dali described Freud’s mind as like a snail – hard on the outside, soft on the inside, and spiralling inward to the secrets at its core. Figs are often associated with Eden, their leaves used to cover nakedness, and in Greek and Roman mythology are associated with sexual desire and the god of drunkenness and wine. Several people have directed me to fig wasps lately as these tiny insects and their unusual life cycle inside the fruit seem to be the latest internet fascination. I spent hours tending to this set, in the hope of catching one emerging from my figs, but with no luck.

Sottoboscos, or “forest floor” still-life paintings, drew me in as if they were my very own non-verbal language. Otto Marseus van Schriek is touted as the grandfather of the sub-genre. He earned his nickname “Snuffelaer” or the snuffler, from spending a great deal of time searching for his beloved amphibian models under leaves and in dark corners of his overgrown country property which he called “The Land of Snakes.” Relating profoundly with his meticulous scenes and obsessive process, I became acutely aware of how those painters depicting nature have become woven into our collective subconscious.

A few days ago, here in the coastal rainforest of British Colombia, my friend Irvin noticed an unusually round rock while carrying out his own work along the remote inlet beaches. It was over a foot in diameter, thick but disk-like, and had an area in the center that was worn down. Worthy of a closer look but not overly exciting, he set it aside and went about his day. It wasn’t until leaving a while later that he (just barely) remembered to pick it up and he flipped it over. On the other side were what seemed to be two thumb indents to hold the object comfortably, and between them an unmistakable facial symbol gazing up. He’s now into the lengthy process of deciphering and dating it.

The artifact spent lifetimes sitting on that beach, unnoticed and in the open, just waiting for the right person to pay attention and turn it over. That single carved image is likely older than photography itself, and possibly even the idea of it. Despite the medium of photography finding a very new seat at the table, those of us who use it as our tool are part of the deep history of visual storytellers. We all have subconscious minds filled with experiences we draw from to build our webs of symbolic items and imagery. I try to include opportunities in my photographs for the viewer to wander through their own. Judging by the buzzing conversation around the artifact Irvin found here last week, I’d argue that objects with forgotten or hidden symbolism carry a great deal more interest than something made obvious or spelled out for the viewer. Room for interpretation lets us run a little wild.

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Header image caption: In most contexts people generally dislike insects, but I’ve found that with the right curation and narrative they can be swayed. Beyond being prized for its scent over millennia, lavender is described in multiple religious texts as representing devotion and serenity. Its color, a symbol of royalty, indicates elegance and refinement. In some serendipitous way, a field of lavender becomes a workplace for both person and insect, and a space to appreciate all life and its connectedness.


The article is courtesy of ELEMENTS Magazine. ELEMENTS is a monthly magazine dedicated to elegant landscape photography, insightful editorials and fluid, clean design. Inside you will find an exclusive and in-depth articles and imagery by the best landscape photographers in the world such as Bruce Barnbaum, Christopher Burkett, Chuck Kimmerle, Christian Fletcher, Charlie Waite, Rachael Talibart, Erin Babnik and Freeman Patterson, to name a few. Use the PETAPIXEL10 code for a 10% discount off the annual subscription.


About the author: Having previously spent time in scientific fieldwork, Whitney Lewis-Smith’s scenes are created from a wealth of history and cultural chronicles amassed in the field with research teams from local healers and storytellers to sources from the Museum of Natural History in Mexico. 

Globalization, accessibility to commodities, and humanity’s relationship with nature have been constant themes in her studio practice. Often juxtaposing ideas from the impossible bouquets of Dutch Golden Age paintings, Whitney uses photographs to document what can today be amassed by internet purchase or otherwise, showing how globalization affects the way we interact with the world. Her tableaux provide a glimpse into which parts of nature we assign value to – culturally, historically, or otherwise. By including objects in her scenes that will soon be lost due to habitat change and the climate crisis, she invites the viewer to contemplate the present day as a fleeting moment. Collectors include Global Affairs Canada, The Honourable Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s collection, SUMMA Art Fair Madrid, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Maison Simon’s collection, and the Ottawa City’s Public Art collection. Lewis-Smith studied Studio Arts at Concordia University specializing in painting, drawing and sculpture.

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Here Is How Platon Captures the Most Significant Portraits in Modern History: Exclusive Fstoppers Interview With Platon

Here Is How Platon Captures the Most Significant Portraits in Modern History: Exclusive Fstoppers Interview With Platon

Hailed as one of the world’s greatest portrait photographers, Platon has captured the likings of world leaders, actors, musicians, and human rights victims. What does it take to capture the world’s most recognizable images? I spoke to Platon himself to find out. 

Culture Is Inspiration 

Platon thinks that creative people have to be like sponges. We are all drawn to different types of inspiration. He always thinks of inspiration as fuel in a gas tank. If you don’t absorb lots of good stuff over the years, then your gas tank is empty, and you can’t go anywhere. For Platon, inspiration comes from culture. Although Platon is known as a photographer, he doesn’t look at other photographs anymore. Most of his inspiration comes from architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier are his two absolute heroes. Le Corbusier has inspired Platon’s color and form. Sculptors like Rodin further inspired Platon’s work. Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker has great similarities with Platon’s work. The hands are prominent, as are the legs. The wide angle distortion that he uses sometimes adds further similarity to Rodin’s sculptures. The monumentalism in Platon’s work is a direct page from Rodin’s book. Other sculptors such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth have also inspired Platon. Although Moore and Hepworth are more abstract, there is still a degree of monumentalism in their work. Applied to people, Platon seeks monumentalism in his subjects. It is common to see people as mountains in Platon’s work. 

Van Gogh is another source of inspiration for Platon. There is a lust for texture color and form. When Van Gogh draws someone’s hand, you really understand the form of it. There are contrast levels that describe form. His black and white pen and ink drawings are prime examples of that. 

Picasso has also heavily influenced Platon’s portraits. Although Picasso’s portraits are very abstract, you still get their power, their spirit coming through.

When I’m photographing someone, it’s not about aesthetics. Far from it. What is important is to capture their spirit, their soul. 

The Beatles also inspired Platon, so much so he named his son Jude after “Hey Jude.” What really is amazing about The Beatles is how they would always change and push themselves to enjoy something different that’s new. We all get trapped in our own fear of change. Sometimes, you have to destroy what you created in the first place to move forward. Miles Davis is inspiring to Platon, particularly, the way he always pushed for change in his work. He was not afraid to destroy and move forward with his work. 

Frank Sinatra had the capacity to tell a story in two minutes. Frank Sinatra’s Capitol songs do that best. You really feel how Sinatra tells an epic film in just a short song. In terms of photography, Platon has to tell stories with his work, especially when he is dealing with human rights issues. It’s far from a pretty picture, and sometimes, it’s not pretty at all. It’s a powerful story about humanity: abuse of power, someone rising above adversity. Those are powerful stories. They are stories of the human condition. 

Here Is How Platon Captures the Most Significant Portraits in Modern History: Exclusive Fstoppers Interview With Platon 12The way Sinatra takes a song you listen to for entertainment and transforms it into a story about life struggle, heartache, being lonely, or feeling the joy of life. Can you take that out of the song and put it in a photograph? 

Culture comes from everywhere. If you’re a really good photographer, you have to be like an investigator. Books, films, exhibitions, music, everything, it’s all good for inspiration. 

In conversation with Platon, he hasn’t described a single photographer that he looks at. He believes that if you only look at photography, you are looking at 1% of everything that is out there. By looking someplace else, you in fact become more original in your work. Don’t just look at other photographers, because then you’re just copying. Be more authentic with your work by having multiple influences. 

At the end of the day, Platon says that photography should be close to your heart. The closer it is, the more powerful it is. 

A Great Portrait Is Not About Aesthetics, It’s About the Story It Tells and Change It Brings

A portrait always tells a story. There is a story going on when you’re photographing someone. A lot of photographers get freaked out by the nerdy side of photography. They forget that their job is to capture history in front of their camera. There’s something going on, and your job is to document it, freeze time.

When we look back at 20th-century history, we often look at photographs. It was photographs that helped end the Vietnam war. The educated people on how horrendous the war was. It was only thanks to brave war photographers that the world saw how awful it actually was, it helped educate the world on the horrors of war. 

Photography helps cure society’s amnesia.  

Photography can be important if you believe is it important. Platon says to himself every time he picks up a camera: this will be an important moment. If he feels invested at that moment, chances are his subject will also feel invested and feel his passion and commitment. They will work together to create something that means a lot to both of them. If it means something to them, chances are it will mean something to the audience who sees the image too. Platon says that when you approach photography in this way, it gets very interesting. 

People know that I photographed important people, famous people. It is relatively easy to take an important picture of someone who is important. What is interesting is when he turns his lens to someone who was robbed of power, who nobody knows, who was neglected and abused. Can you make an important picture of that person? 

If you really care and believe that photography is a transformative tool, then that picture of a human rights victim can become more important than any picture of a famous person. It dealing with an issue or a story of our time. For Platon, photography is interesting when it is being used to drive change. 

Your Job Is Not to Judge, Your Job Is to Be Curious

There is no method to dealing with anyone. If you want to be authentic with someone you have to be curious and less judgmental, even if it is someone you disagree with, even if they’ve done things that you know are wrong in history. There is no point in taking a picture of them if you’re not curious. 

Everyone is jumping to judgments about each other, especially on social media. We stopped asking questions about each other. As a photographer, my job is to put aside my judgment and capture them. It is not my job to make someone look good or bad. I’m not in a position to judge. My job is to describe what it is to meet that person. It is their legacy that will judge, its history that will judge. 

Platon photographed Harvey Weinstein. That picture used to represent bad-boy Hollywood swagger. As time went on and we discovered his abuses of power, the meaning of that picture changed. The picture is the same: it’s him, he looks like a gangster in it. What changed is what we know about him as a human being. If a picture is good, we can read all of those things in him at the same time. 

Platon’s image of Putin is no different. He was told that Putin likes that picture because it shows him as a strong leader who wants Russia at the table of global power. Putin supporters like that picture too. Yet, his opponents, such as Platon’s colleagues in the human rights moments, also find that picture interesting. To them, it shows everything that is wrong with power and authority in Russia. That picture has become the banner for demonstrations across Russia. People would adopt that picture: the LGBTQ+ community would put a rainbow on that image. There are hundreds of versions of that picture — so many that the picture is apparently banned in demonstrations. What makes that image for both sides is that it is him. 

When you’re photographing someone, you have to be very curious and capture them on film. It is not my position to say that this is a good person or a bad person. History does that for us. 

Finding Magical Human Moments in the Most Inhumane Situations

What is that magical moment? You can describe it. Everyone knows what it is. It’s not a photography thing. When you’re with someone that you care for deeply. Have you experienced a moment when something magical happens? Perhaps they’ll touch you with their little finger across the table. When you smell someone’s perfume that you have a feeling for, that does something to your humanity. It’s your senses connecting to your heart. It’s very powerful stuff. It’s what we live for. Platon’s job is to find these moments of human connection. His senses are so open that he is able to pick up the slightest hint of such a moment. Every person knows what those human moments of connection are. If a picture Platon took resonates with you, it is simply because you recognize the connection that he found. 

It might be a moment of chill, his image of Al-Qadhdhāfī taps into his defiance and monstrosity. He was a monster of his time, and he tapped into that menace. When you look at it, you can’t feel anything but a disturbance of human values. A corruption of human values. 

However, the image of Remy Essam is different. He was the singer of the revolution who sang positive, unifying songs every day. Remy came to Platon after he was tortured by the failing government who felt threatened by him. He was tasered by them until his back caught fire. When Platon saw the marks, he burst into tears. He said” “the marks on your back are horrible, I’m sorry about them. People should never be hurt in this way.” Remy responded by saying that he wears these marks with pride, he wears them as evidence that he stood for change. Platon photographed Remy in an unusual way. Remy stands showing his marks while also holding his guitar, not as an instrument but as a weapon. That picture became like a poster in the revolution. Everyone understood the price of change. 

Applied to today, how prepared are we to make sacrifices to bring change? Speaking of the environment, there are people lecturing each other on climate change. Do we know where the conflict minerals in our phones come from? We are not asking these questions on a mainstream scale, yet we are all accusing and canceling each other because of a decade-old social media post. Meanwhile, there are horrific abuses going on right now. People talk about slavery and BLM. Platon has been to places where slavery exists; he saw it first-hand. His job is not to lecture people on what’s wrong or bad, his job is to raise awareness. 

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Take a Brief Journey Through the History of Photography

Take a Brief Journey Through the History of Photography

World-renowned auction house Christie’s has paid tribute to the history of photography, following the first time humanity was able to records events all the way through today’s digital landscape and its connection with the blockchain.

First spotted by Fstoppers, Darius Himes, International Head of Photographs, presents a video that looks back at the very beginnings of photography as a medium and how scientific and historical context shaped its journey to where it is today. He describes photography as “one of the most diverse and exciting mediums of the past 200 years.”

Invented in the 1830s, photography was first born as a breakthrough in optics and chemistry. This invention gave the world a “new pair of eyes” and the ability to record events and reproduce them for books and journals for the first time.

This development coincided with a big boom in travel as well as social and political turbulence, making the Civil War the first conflict on American soil that was recorded through the lens. Numerous photographs have been preserved from that period, giving future generations an insight that had never been possible before.

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Christie’s Auction House. Possibly by GEORGE N. BARNARD (1819-1902). [View of a Soldier Watering his Horse] Bull Run, Blackburn’s Ford, Virginia, c. 1861-1862

As the techniques advanced, photography entered into the art sphere more prominently and prompted experimentation by artists of the time. Each photographer left an imprint on the industry – be it a new experimental technique, an intimate look into their thought process, a daring subject or theme, or simply the raw reality of the time.

When color film became available in the 1930s, photographers swiftly adopted the new type of photography, especially in fashion, advertisement, and pop culture. Similarly, the rise of digital photography later in the century opened up a world of endless possibilities, eventually leading to the introduction of blockchain — a digital ledger of transactions — into the art world.

Christie’s YouTube video briefly touches on numerous photographers and artists who have left a significant mark on this medium and the art world as a whole and are still celebrated to this day.

More videos about the history of the art world can be found on Christie’s YouTube page.

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A Brief History of Photography

A Brief History of Photography

As camera technology continues to advance at stomach-churning speed, it might be wise to remind ourselves of just how far we’ve come, as it’s so easy to get caught up in the never-ending lust for the next shiny new toy. Sometimes, our focus on processors and edge-to-edge sharpness make us forget about the art, the craft, and the photographers that came before us, so sit back and enjoy this short hop through the history of photography.

In this video from one of the world’s most famous auction houses, Christie’s, Darius Himes, its International Head of Photographs, educates us on the first photographic technologies right up through the adoption of color photography and then on to more contemporary work. If you’re unfamiliar with the history of the craft, it’s a fascinating introduction and a perfect jumping-off point to explore the work of some of the more famous names in the industry.

Videos like this are also, I believe, important to bring context to the craft we purport to care about so much. So much time is spent — mostly online — engaging in vapid, contrived arguments about the latest tech. I should know; I’m one of those people. But ultimately, these technologies won’t make me a better photographer. The only way to get better is by studying other photographers and art and then exploring my own ideas with the camera I have now.

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The Historik Photo App Will Let You Experience History in 3D AR

The Historik Photo App Will Let You Experience History in 3D AR

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Coeur d’Alene entrepreneur Chris Whalen has announced a new app called Histork which leverages Augmented Reality (AR) to “bring history to life through the screen of a cell phone.”

According to a report from KTVB7 News, the Histork app uses AR to recreate lost historic points at their origin and lets users swipe through historical markers to find what most interests them within their immediate proximity.

Users can point their smartphone towards one of the historical markers and their devices will show the “original” area using a computer-generated AR model that can then be walked around and viewed in full 3D. Each location in the app will have information on its history along with settings so users can set up their own self-guided tours.

“I want to be able to bring our city to life with technology and have history be the centerpiece of that,” Whalen said. “We’re trying to reach the older generations and the younger generations at the same time.”

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The idea for the app was born after Whalen got frustrated with the lack of information about historical landmarks and areas he’d pass in his day-to-day life. The plan is for the app to deliver a notification when a user is nearby a historic marker so they can open the app and learn about the area’s history. He hopes to create an open-source database that users can contribute to further expand the content and historic value of the application.

“Our job at Historik is to create a platform for communities to have a place where they can digitally preserve that history,” he said. “So no matter what happens to the actual artifact, their history will live on forever.”

Whalen tells KTVB7 News that he hopes to create eight full augmented reality experiences in the Coeur D’Alene area of Idaho and would like to raise the capital to be able to expand the reach across the entire country.

Eventually, he hopes to expand the app to include activity-based content like geocaching and special history events for school field trips using augmented reality to attract and engage a younger audience. The Historik app will be launch for free, but features like bookmarking and hands-free audio will require an annual subscription service.

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The Historik App is currently slated for availablility in June of 2022 with early access registration open now.

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A Look at One of the Most Insanely Difficult Shots in Movie History

A Look at One of the Most Insanely Difficult Shots in Movie History

Brian De Palma is well known for movies like “Carrie,” “Scarface,” and “Mission: Impossible.” His 1990 film “The Bonfire of the Vanities” was panned by critics and was also a box office bomb, but within it is one incredibly cool shot that took an unbelievable amount of planning and technique to pull off, and the result was well worth the effort. This awesome video will show you the scene as well as what went into making it.

Coming to you from Patrick (H) Willems, this excellent video will show you what went into the famous Concorde at JFK shot in Brian De Palma’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” Though the movie is otherwise mostly forgettable, it is filled with interesting visuals, but perhaps none is more arresting (especially when you know the story behind it) than the plane arrival, as it took $80,000 and an incredibly narrow window of time (just 30 seconds in an entire year) to pull off. It took an almost unfathomable amount of planning and coordination to create, but the end result was worth it, as it is such a unique and eye-catching shot that it almost demands that you rewind and watch it again. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Willems. 

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World Photography Day Is August 19, 2021: A Brief History and This Year’s Events

World Photography Day Is August 19, 2021: A Brief History and This Year’s Events

What will you be doing for World Photography Day? There’s good reason to get on board. Some exciting happenings are going on, including some free live presentations from top-notch photographers.

On August 19, 1839, the French government purchased a patent from Louis Daguerre, who had developed his successful photographic process from the seeds sewn by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, who had died six years earlier. France declared it a gift to the world, for anyone to use without cost. Well, almost everyone. The French were still smarting from the Napoleonic Wars, and there had been a long rivalry with Britain reaching back hundreds of years, and so, they excluded Britain from the gift. British photographers had to pay a license fee to use the technique. Fortunately for the British, around the same time, William Henry Fox Talbot had independently developed his own system, and so, the two processes evolved, at first, in parallel.

Fortunately, the world is a much more peace-loving place than it was in the 1800s. Overall, despite some hiccups, we get on together much better than we did 182 years ago. Now, on August 19 every year, to celebrate that idea of international camaraderie on the anniversary of France’s generous sharing of the Daguerreotype, it’s World Photography Day.

Like all art and science, photography is great for bringing together different people from different nations and helping us to realize how similar we all are. I’ve visited, lived, and photographed in different countries and have made friends around the world. Almost everyone I meet just wants to get on with life and enjoy it, living in peace and happiness. Photography on the internet and sites like Fstoppers and others are a great way of helping us achieve that by removing the imaginary barriers between the ordinary people of our planet. World Photography Day highlights that and is a superb means for us to celebrate our common enjoyment of an inclusive activity that means so much to so many of us.

World Photography Day Is August 19, 2021: A Brief History and This Year’s Events 17

Things You Can Do

Do look for and like others’ photos on various social media platforms, and please take time to post encouraging comments. A few seconds of kindness can make a huge difference to others. That is what the spirit of World Photography Day is about.

To find photos relating to the event and to join in, use the hashtags #PhotographyDay and #WorldPhotographyDay. If you do use hashtags, please may I encourage you to capitalize separate words as I did. It means that screen-readers, used by visually impaired people, can differentiate between the words.

But, most of all, go and take some photographs. Put a few hours aside and try something different. Maybe start a new project or visit a venue you’ve been planning to get to. Better still, try collaborating with other photographers on a common theme. I’ve taken part in a couple of year-long themed collaborations with a group of photographers from around the world. It encouraged me to get out with my camera and improve my photography skills.

Live Photography Events

For the last few years, Olympus UK has been actively celebrating World Photography Day. This year, they have gone the extra mile with a series of live international events for photographers delivered by their staff and ambassadors from around the world. Although Olympus cameras and lenses will feature, you don’t have to be an Olympus user to attend. They have some top-notch photographers who will be sharing stories, techniques, and tips. The events are free. Here are the times for your diary:

Coffee with the Cla(i)res

The hosts of the regular Saturday Morning slot, Coffee with the Cla(i)res, features two Olympus UK team members, Clare Harvey-May and Claire Voyle. Their event started during the first lockdown in Britain, where they would share live projects from their homes. It went viral, reaching thousands of photographers from around the world. They will be broadcasting on location and delving into the world of macro.

When: 11am BST/12pm CET/6am ET  Where: bit.ly/3jKAvBV

Exploring Menus and Dials: A Q&A with David Smith

David Smith is an Olympus technical expert, especially known in the UK for the one-to-one sessions he delivers to Olympus users and the support he gives in various Facebook groups too. He’ll be talking about the latest Olympus kit and its features, answering questions you put to him.

When: 1pm BST/2pm CET/8am ET    Where: bit.ly/3CmMbmx

Exploring Bird Photography With Andreas Geh 

Andreas Geh is a German photographer and Olympus ambassador who shoots fabulous bird life images. He’ll be discussing bird photography and sharing his tips and tricks, as well as answering your questions.

When: 3pm BST/4pm CET/10am ET      Where: bit.ly/3ytgN3H

The Art of Nature With André Boss    

Swiss photographer André Boss has a live session concentrating on wildlife. He is an Olympus visionary too and will be talking about his latest projects and answering questions.

When: 5pm BST/6pm CET/12pm ET    Where:   bit.ly/3lBKX0V

Creatividad en Fotografía de Paisaje – En Español – Sergio Marcos
(Creativity in Landscape Photography – in Spanish)

Then, it’s off to Spain with landscape photographer, Sergio Marcos. He will be analyzing composition techniques. You can see some of Sergio’s work here.

When: 7pm BST/8pm CET/2pm ET    bit.ly/3AaQZK3

 Wildlife Photography: From Safari to Your Backyard – Brooke Bartleson   

After Spain, the baton is handed over to the USA and Brooke Bartleson in Salt Lake City. Brooke is another superb wildlife photographer. She’ll be talking about her recent expedition to Botswana and sharing some of her skills.

When: 9pm BST/10pm CET/4pm ET   Where: bit.ly/3A5pDoC

Olympus Innovations for the Outdoor Photographer – Peter Baumgarten

Finally, we all head northwards where Peter Baumgarten will be concentrating on the unique features of Olympus cameras, such as Live Composite Mode, Live ND, Pro Capture, and so forth that enable him to get some stunning shots in the Canadian Wilderness.

 When: 11pm BST/12am CET/6pm ET  Where:  bit.ly/3CjqL9T

Czech Republic Online Event

There will also be a live stream discussion with Rostislav Stach and Petr Bambousekin Czech language.

When: 5pm BST/6pm CET/12pm EST Where: https://bit.ly/3isEvaJ

Full details of the event plus more information about the presenters can be found on the Olympus website.

World Photography Day Is August 19, 2021: A Brief History and This Year’s Events 18

What Will You Be Doing?

It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned professional, an experienced amateur, a selfie-snapper, or a complete beginner. There’s every reason to join in on the day, to share what you are doing, and appreciate what other photographers are delving into.

What will you do? I’ll be starting my day before sunrise, heading off on my bicycle to capture a seascape image I’ve been planning — I hope the weather is good — and then watching some of those Olympus videos.

I look forward to hearing about your plans and seeing the results. Please post them in the comments below. Plus, please share details of any other events that you know are happening on August 19.

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‘Preventable’ Fire Engulfs Major Brazilian Cinema Film History Archive

'Preventable' Fire Engulfs Major Brazilian Cinema Film History Archive

A storage facility belonging to the Cinemateca Brasileira has been engulfed by flames and while there were no injuries, the facility is home to priceless archives of 35mm and 16mm film and other museological objects.

The Cinemateca Brasileira is located in São Paulo and is the Brazilian institution responsible for preserving the country’s cinema archive. The building stored highly flammable films as well as historically significant objects like ancient projectors, documents, and archives.

A story by The Brazilian Report and other initial findings suggest that a short circuit in the air conditioning system may have been the cause of the fire. According to HyperAllergic, the 70,000-square-foot building is the latest cultural asset to fall victim to what are preventable disasters, with large blame being placed on the government’s deep budget cuts and negligence.

“The fire at the Cinemateca de São Paulo is a crime against the country’s culture,” João Doria, São Paulo governor, said to the press. “Contempt for the art and memory of Brazil leads to this: the gradual death of national culture.”

Brazilian President Bolsonaro dismantled the Ministry of Culture in 2019 and stopped paying for the Cinematec’as staff as well as ended its contract with a private foundation that oversaw the organization. These moves led to a lapse in care for the large film archive.

The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), which represents 172 members and associates around the globe, released a statement on the loss.

“While we do not yet know the full extent of the damage, it is likely that this latest catastrophe will have once again caused the loss of significant quantities of film and other key cultural artifacts preserved by the Cinemateca Brasileira, one of the oldest and most respected members of our global network and an essential custodian of Brazil’s rich film heritage,” the FIAF writes.

In the fall of last year, the entire staff of the Cinemateca was dismissed following several months of where none were paid. the FIAF expressed its deep concern over the situation at the time and called on the Brazilian government to help resolve the situation. That call appears to have fallen on deaf ears, as little progress was made. Now, many irreplaceable items are likely lost.

“The future of the Cinemateca Brasileira remains more uncertain than ever, and each passing day puts its unique collections — already in a shameful state of neglect — increasingly at risk,” the FIAF continues.

This latest fire is the second to hit the Cinemateca Brasileira, as one in 2016 burned “some thousand” film roles. While this represented just 0.4% of the total archive, it is all irreplaceable should it be lost.

The Brazilian Report writes that this latest fire is one in a line of disasters that could have been prevented by an active and funded Ministry of Culture. In 2015, the Portuguese Language Museum in São Paulo was destroyed by a fire, and in 2018 almost 90% of Rio de Janeiro’s National Museum — which is also Brazil’s oldest — burned and nearly led to the building’s collapse.


Image credits: Header image by Everton Zanella Alvarenga, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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