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Monthly Archives: October 2007

Scott Adams must have had a bad experience with a journalist based on today’s comic strip.

Karlee Baumann sent this link along … VH1 has a new reality show based on … fashion photographers who want to make it big. Ten wannabes will live together, shoot against each other and be deemed worthy or not …

You know, I may have to DVR this … just for, you know, fun.

How can you pass up that combination? You can’t, you just can’t …

On Friday, November 2, Professor G. Keith Douce from the Department of Entomology on the Tifton campus, will be in the Photojournalism Lab at noon to talk about the Bugwood Network – an image archive of pests, plants and problems around the world. The photo archive is impressive – more than 60,000 images that can help you identify flora and fauna.

Prof. Douce will talk about where the photos come from, how they’re used, how you can contribute to the archive and how a publicly accessible archive of this size is managed.

This is open to everyone, student and non-student, but please let me know (through the comments below) if you’re coming so I can order enough food.

Stolen from Flash Goddess Mindy McAdams … Michal Wesch, from Kansas State University, has a YouTube video that looks at the way we think about information. It’s worth the five and a half minutes, will have you rethinking the way we’ve changes our thinking of what “information” is.

Most of you know of my affection for the Red Sox (GO SOX!!), but the hometown Boston Globe has a contest going on that, well, just makes me really queasy – “Photoshopping the Red Sox.” Fans and readers can send in their Photoshopped illustrations of the Beantown Boys and their posting them online.

The problem? They’re using copyrighted images as the basis for these illustrations. Some are going far enough with the illustrations that there may not be an issue, but some are … well, go look for yourself.

I’m sure – sure – the Globe talked with their lawyers about this, right? And I believe the Digital Millennium Copyright Act says it’s okay for site users to post this stuff, but if anyone complains they need to take it down … which makes this even more annoying, that a major media company may be flaunting the DMCA which was designed to protect their copyright interests.

So, Leica is well known for special edition cameras that commemorate all kinds of things (such as the M6J, the MP Herm├ęs or the Royal Wedding M6), but this is just silly … for $180, you can get a White Stripes Special Edition Holga or Diana camera (turn down your volume before clicking).

Current price of a Holga online: about $20.

Act Now! Only 3,000 examples have been made!

Get your attention?

Over on the VII agency web site, Lauren Greenfield has a video posted titled “Kids + Money” – and it’s one of those things you just have to watch. No bells, no whistles – just startling content.

You may feel in the first few minutes that there’s a definite bias here, but watch it all the way through.

Greg Mironchuk, an old friend and a damned fine photojournalist, sent the following to the National Press Photographers Association’s discussion list. I’m reposting it with his permission because, every now and then, we need to be reminded of why we are journalists …

Newspapers are an integral part of the “System Of Checks And Balances,” here in the United States.

The New York Times sees The First Amendment to The Constitution of The United States as a license to print and sell Tee Shirts, with images from NFL and MLB games on them, for profit, in a blurring of the line between “Commercial” and “Editorial” … the folks who wrote the Constitution saw The First Amendment as a way to keep The Gov’t from having a monopoly on Information.

I don’t have to convince anyone that … nationally … The U.S. Gov’t has exercised this monopoly quite forcefully, in this era of Newspapers’ Decline.

But … it’s everywhere.

In the town where I live, there is a phony “Budget Crisis” going on, in an effort to bully the town’s taxpayers into approving a higher property tax rate than Massachusetts requires, by law … they’ve closed the Library, cut Firemen’s hours, and curtailed gym/music/art and many Special Ed programs in the schools.

The Bozos at Town Hall (my apologies to Bozos, everywhere, for comparing you to our Town Gov’t …) would have been beat up one side of the road, and down the other, if there was a real newspaper here … but there isn’t.

All three alleged/purported ‘papers which regularly print “news” about our town (including Boston’s biggest Metro Daily) print verbatim press releases from the town … and photographs, only when someone calls up, with a “Photo Op.”

The demise of the Newspaper Business has negatively affected the Balance of Responsibility in every level of Gov’t. Nobody in my town is interested in policing the Town Gov’t, or anyone who provides services for the town … including police, fire, and schools.

Only a real, viable, newspaper can hold feet to fires … can identify graft, malfeasance, and criminality … and can provide a forum with which Citizens can intelligently exercise their Franchise, at the ballot box.

To paraphrase a quote from everyone’s favorite movie … the problems of Photojournalists, as a result of the demise of newspapers, don’t amount to a hill of beans … when compared to the problems that everyone has when newspapers have abdicated their Constitutional Responsibility, whilst hiding behind their Constitutional Protections.

Sean Elliot, at The Day, in New London, Conn., sent along a link to one of his first video pieces – a look at a new elementary school principal. It is simply shot – there’s nothing fancy in here – and the editing is very straightforward. The audio works well and the compositions mirror how a still shooter (which is what Elliot is/has been) would work.

It works well – here’s a woman who almost everyone in the town will come in contact with in some way, shape or form and Elliot is letting her tell her own story. It’s the modern interpretation of the community profile story, a staple of good community journalism, being translated into a multimedia piece.

Will it set the world on fire? Will it win a bunch of awards? Probably not, but it will get watched – a lot – and talked about. And, more importantly, it puts a voice to a community leader, it makes them more approachable. It connects them.

And start thinking about how to use it better. Ken Rockwell, who has a ton of information on his site about cameras and lenses, wrote a diatribe a while back about why the camera you use doesn’t matter. Some of his analogies are weak, but this one always rings true:

We all know how to play the piano: you just press the keys and step on the pedals now and then. The ability to play it, much less the ability to stir emotion in those who hear your playing, is an entirely different matter. Don’t presume the most expensive gear is the best. Having too much camera equipment is the best way to get the worst photos.

Nothing has prompted this, but I had bookmarked the page and reread it this morning. Well, maybe that’s not true … I stumbled across a photo of a Makina 67 – a camera I’d never heard of – and have been somewhat fascinated by them for the last few days. If only I had that camera I could do … what?

I can’t answer that. I mean, I have an answer in my head, and maybe I could make a different kind of photo that the average reader would be able to identify. But probably not. (And since they’re selling for $1500+ on ebay, I’m not buying one.)

Likewise, when I started shooting football this year I hauled out my 300 mm f/2.8 manual focus lens and 1.4x teleconverter. I bought both of those – used – in 1993. Before every game, my wife listens to me fret about how I really should spend the money and get a newer 300, an AF-S Type II and a new converter. And as I edit, I see where I missed on the focus.

Now, there is a legitimate reason to replace the lens – the helicoids are worn and the focus is a little sloppy at some points. But, you know, my clients aren’t complaining. I am, but they aren’t.

Would the pictures be better? Hmmm … maybe there would be a higher percentage of sharper images, but the moments are the same.

Yes, sports is different – shooting Moonrise, Ansel Adams probably had a little more time then I did to catch a flying Ole Miss defender, so that newer lens maybe – maybe – would have made a difference.

Well, now I’m rambling. The idea is the camera doesn’t matter as much as any of us think it does. I crave a Leica M8. The Makina 67 looks really sweet. And that new 300 probably would help me make better images. But it’s not the lens or camera, it’s the eye and brain – exercise those more and your photos will get better.