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Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday again which means it’s time for another one of our weekly wrap-ups highlighting the top stories from the world of photography. If you’re not following us on Twitter then there are many announcements, reviews, tests, and photography journals you might have missed out on this busy week. With the excitement of the holidays in the air and the sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the past week has been incredibly busy for all of us here at Beach Camera. I’m sure it’s been busy for all of you out there as well. So, let’s cut to the chase and jump straight to the wrap-up, shall we?

That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and see you again on Monday!

– da Bird


Winter Photography

Winter Photography

Fall is wrapping up in these parts and many people are beginning to prepare for the winter season. Many people see winter as the season when photography hibernates. However, for the adventurous photographer, winter is just another time to go out and capture some great images.

If you’re not too bothered by the cold and feeling up to the challenge, we have a few tips on how you can make your winter photographs come out with stunning colors instead of stultifying grays.

First of all, remember to use flash. Even in a seemingly well-lit setting outside, in winter, you may need to use flash to make up for the difference in the sun’s angle. Also, overcast days tend to be more common in winter so you may find yourself missing natural light. Many winter photographs come out with very little color for this reason. So, don’t just let your meter try to figure it out on its own. Use flash and experiment a bit. Additionally, you can use a graduated filter to give the sky some color while keeping the foreground natural.

Next, prepare yourself and your camera for the conditions outside. Consider covering your camera with a plastic bag to keep it from getting wet if you don’t have a waterproof housing for it. Also, wipe the lens off if snow or water gets on it. Since the air is colder, blowing either off may result in the condensation from your breath getting inside and freezing later on. Keep pocket and hand warmers on you in order to keep your camera warmed up. For yourself, dress warmly in layers that will keep you warm even if you work up a sweat hiking. You may also want to spend some time beforehand practicing using your camera with the gloves you’ll be wearing. Also, your attitude is essential to winter photography. If all you can do is think about how you’d much rather be inside, curled up under a blanket, drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book, your photos will reflect that reluctance.

If you’re out photographing during the day, the best times (due to the angle and of the sun) are probably going to be around the early morning and the late afternoon. Also, keep a fill flash on you to provide additional light if the sky is grey and overcast or if there isn’t much contrast in the landscape due to the uniform color and blanketing effect of snow. Additionally, try to take the same photo from multiple angles. And, always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Sunny days in the winter could mean a very brief melt over the ice on some rocks, creating a pretty waterfall. Melting icicles can create impromptu prisms. Be creative and aware of your surroundings and Mother Nature will always show you something worth photographing — even in the winter!

– da Bird


Historical Photographers: Alfred Stieglitz, Part III

Historical Photographers: Alfred Stieglitz, Part III

Part I and Part II of this series were posted earlier

Moving from advocating solely for photography and more for advocating for modern art, Alfred Stieglitz took the unusual step on 1907 of working together with Clarence H. White, a friend, on a series of photographic experiments. The pair hired two models and took photos of them both clothed and nude. The prints from these photographs were done using a variety of unusual techniques, including toning, waxing and drawing on platinum prints. These photos remain the most unusual and distinct of Stieglitz’s career.

While Stieglitz was continuing to enjoy great artistic success, his artistry rarely converted into commercial success. The Little Galleries exhibit which had helped launch Pamela Coleman Smith’s career operated at a loss most months. Subscriptions to Camera Work began to fall off, leaving Stieglitz just $400 from the endeavor. Emmy, his wife, continued to spend beyond their modest means keeping a full-time governess for their daughter Kitty and insisting on an annual trip to Europe where they stayed in the best hotels. In 1907, Emmy took the family on the annual trip and while on the ship, Stieglitz captured the photo that became his signature image and one of the most important images in the 20th century: The Steerage. During this trip to Europe, Stieglitz saw the first commercial demonstration of the Autochrome Lumière color photography process and was soon experimenting with it alongside his friends and colleagues Steichen, Frank Eugene and Alvin Langdon Coburn.

When the family returned to the US, Stieglitz was forced to face several new problems. The Camera Club Trustees requested his resignation from the club — a request that Stieglitz ignored. Since he had left the club, its membership had plummeted and the Club was nearing bankruptcy. However, the members at large of the club did not want Stieglitz to resign or to be forced out. When forty of them resigned in protest at the Trustees’ actions, Stieglitz was reinstated as a life member.

Stieglitz also closed down the Little Galleries for a brief time, reopening them in February 1908 under the name “291.” This new name represented a breaking away from the old traditions of photography and even Photo-Secession. In 291, Stieglitz sought to bring down the barriers between the different art forms and displayed controversial works such as August Rodin’s sexually explicit drawings alongside more “acceptable” paintings and drawings. Photographs were interspersed throughout the exhibit. The works displayed came from both established artists and new up-and-comers, from both Europe and America, and from all schools of artistic discipline. The goal of this mixture was to “set up a dialogue that would enable 291 visitors to see, discuss and ponder the differences and similarities between artists of all ranks and types: between painters, draftsmen, sculptors and photographers; between European and American artists; between older or more established figures and younger, newer practitioners.”

Edward Stieglitz, Alfred’s father, passed away in 1909 and left his son a princely inheritance of $10,000. Alfred invested this money in his studios and his magazine, keeping both going for another several years. The success of 291 brought Stieglitz into contact with many new artists. Though he continued to defend the Photo-Secession movement from its detractors and continued to argue against those who thought him too confined and too narrow in his scope to be qualified to judge new photography styles, the next several years were years of quiet for him. His own photography from this era, The Steerage excepted, is unheard of and unpublished.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 caused Stieglitz much stress. He had many friends and family in Europe and was constantly concerned for their safety. In addition, the print house that handled the photogravures for Camera Work was in Germany and Stieglitz was forced to find another firm to handle such matters. The economic downturn that resulted from the war hit the art world hard. With art seen as a luxury, subscriptions to Camera Work and visitors to 291 fell off sharply. Stieglitz’s friends, among them Marius de Zayas, Paul de Haviland, and Agnes Meyer, all of whom were more modern artists featured in 291, encouraged him to try a completely new project. However, this new project, an avant-garde journal called 291, was a financial disaster that ceased production after 12 issues.

In 1915, Stieglitz met Paul Strand. Strand had been a frequent visitor to 291. However, influenced by the modern art scene, Strand developed a new style of photography that focused on the bold lines of everyday items. Stieglitz was intrigued by this style and soon gave Strand a major exhibit in 291. In 1916, Stieglitz saw a portfolio of works from a new artist named Georgia O’Keeffe. Without waiting for her permission to show them, Stieglitz put them all over 291. When the two finally met, Stieglitz was immediately smitten both artistically and physically. However, O’Keeffe did not return his affections immediately and began a budding relationship with Strand. However, the relationship between O’Keeffe and Strand was not destined to last and, by the end of 1917, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz were nearly inseparable. Their relation formed the bridge to the next chapter of Stieglitz’s life and helped him move completely away from pictorial photography towards modern art.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been a busy holiday week this week. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and that makes today Black Friday. For those of you asking, yes, we are having Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. We’ve also extended our 45-day return policy on all orders placed between now and the end of the year. Anything you purchase in that time frame you can return up until January 15, 2013.

Now, beyond the crazy savings and the rush in the malls on Black Friday, there have been other things going on this week. The tension between Israel and Hamas heated up. China’s leadership changed in a once-per-decade handover of power. Plenty of photographers, pro and amateur, have been blogging up a storm about how to capture the best winter landscape or Christmas portrait photographs. All of these stories and more have been featured on our Twitter feed. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the big stories you might have missed out on below!

That’s all for this week. Have a great day this Black Friday, enjoy your weekend, and we’ll see you again on Cyber Monday!

– da Bird


The Sony Alpha NEX-6

The Sony Alpha NEX-6

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and the day after that marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season that ends with presents wrapped in shining paper beneath a tree being opened. Many people have already picked out the gifts that they are planning to purchase, wrap, and give to their friends and family this season. However, if you are stumped on what to get for the photographer in your life, our friends at Sony might have an idea for you with the Sony Alpha NEX-6.

The Sony Alpha NEX-6 is a new breed of camera aimed at helping the novice photographer move more towards becoming an advanced photographer. Called a 3/4 hybrid, this camera comes with a lot of the features found on DSLRs. The 16.1 MP APS-C size HD image sensor actually is the same sensor Sony builds into its full-fledged DSLRs and delivers an incredible mixture of high-resolution, high sensitivity, and clear or blurred backgrounds as the photographer wishes. The Alpha NEX-6 also has on-board WiFi allowing the user to send images wirelessly from the camera to his computer or to the Internet. With the free mobile app, PlayMemories, images can also be retrieved from or sent to smartphones and tablets.

The Sony Alpha NEX-6 also comes with a diverse range of modes and features including 11 picture effects modes, Auto Portrait Framing, auto High Dynamic Range, Anti Motion Blur mode, Face Detection, Smile Shutter, and more. The Portrait Framing, Face Detection, and Smile Shutter are great ways to help you capture the perfect portrait while the effects modes, HDR, and anti-motion blur features bring a crisp clarity to your landscape or urban photography.

Lastly, the built-in pop-up flash, the XGA Tru-Finder OLED, and the Advanced Control Dial help you capture, preview, and alter the settings as needed in order to take the perfect picture.

If the Sony Alpha NEX-6 sounds like the perfect gift for the photographer in your life, then head over to our store and order yours today!


Historical Photographers: Alfred Stieglitz, Part II

Historical Photographers: Alfred Stieglitz, Part II

Part I of this series was posted last Monday

After resigning from the Camera Club and his position as editor of its magazine Camera Notes, Stieglitz continued to correspond with other photographers. Among them was Eva Watson-Schütze, a fellow American photographer. She urged Stieglitz to use his influence to put together an exhibition that would be judged solely by photographers. Throughout its history, photography had been judged primarily by painters and other types of artists who were unfamiliar with its technical characteristics. Stieglitz had been campaigning since 1898 to create a photographer-only standard of judging and, with encouragement from Watston-Schütze and other like-minded photographers, he found the energy to create such an exhibition. Held at the National Arts Club, this exhibition featured prints from many of Stieglitz’s close friends. In honor of the Munich photographers and exhibits that had inspired him to such a goal, Stieglitz named this movement of photography the Photography-Secession. However, Stieglitz wasn’t just seceding from the artistic constraints placed on photography in the era — he was seceding from the Camera Club, in a way, by maintaining his personal control over the exhibit.

Spurred by the exhibit’s success, Stieglitz set out to launch a completely independent photography magazine that would carry on the same high standards as the Photo-Secessionist movement. Called Camera Work this magazine included prints of photogravures that were so high in quality that when one set of prints failed to arrive for an exhibit in Belgium, the magazine’s prints were used instead.

However, by 1904, Stieglitz was once again mentally and physically exhausted. He insisted on approving every detail of the Camera Work magazine all the while preparing and promoting his own exhibits and working to put together shows for other Photo-Secessionists. The equivalent of three full-time jobs took its toll and in 1904, he decided to take his family for a long trip to Germany. As was his usual modus operandi, Stieglitz planned a grueling series of exhibitions, meetings and excursions for this “restful” vacation. However, he collapsed upon reaching Berlin and spent the next several months photographing Germany while his family visited relations within the country.

On his way back to the US, Stieglitz stopped in London to try to convince the members of the Linked Ring society to open a chapter in America. However, Stieglitz was already known as a force to be reckoned with, a person who would allow no standards but his own to be imposed on photography, and who was forceful in having his way. The Linked Ring members feared that if they opened an American chapter with Stieglitz as its head, they would soon find themselves beneath him. Before Stieglitz could convince them otherwise, he took ill again and was forced to return to the US.

His return home brought him back into a world of turmoil with this colleagues and dealing with every photographer and photography association in the US that wanted to take him down as the de facto voice of photography. During this time, Stieglitz’s friend Edward Steichen convinced the photographer to take out a lease on a series of rooms near his own Fifth Avenue apartment and to use them as an exhibit hall. At first he worn-out Stieglitz was disinterested but Steichen persisted, reminding him that this project would be completely under his control just like Camera Work. In the end, the exhibition was opened and many of the prints were sold, netting the show around $2,800 — as well as giving Stieglitz a fourth full-time job.

As photography became more and more well accepted and much of Stieglitz’s earlier work paid off, he began looking for ways to shake off the new and growing complacency. Reaching out to other artists, he began exhibiting drawings and paintings next to photographs. The first non-photographer artist to benefit from this new outlook was Pamela Coleman Smith. The exhibition showing her work interspersed with photographs and the resounding success of that exhibit inspired Stieglitz to alter course from merely being an advocate for photography and instead expand to become an advocate for modern art.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been a busy week this week in photography. That’s pretty much how it is every week. Still, this week has seen a lot of new stories in photography and by photographers. The weather might be cooling off but the action is not and photographers around the world have been busy capturing some of the top stories in photography. Nikon, Samsung, and others have announced or released new cameras. Knowing that the winter months mean a different kind of photography and that, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it also means a different amount of lighting, photographers have been busy blogging, writing, and sending out articles filled with advice for novice photographers.

You would have seen all of this and more if you’re following us on Twitter. However, if you’re not, we’ll recap the top stories for you below.

That’s all for this week, folks! Stay safe, stay warm, and see you again next week!

– da Bird


Colorizing Old Photos

Colorizing Old Photos

Recently, the trend of taking old black-and-white photos and colorizing them, either by hand or in Photoshop, has begun to take off. The results can be stunning, giving a new depth and personality to photos that often get passed over when students turn to those pages in their history books. However, some people argue that colorizing these old photographs — even when the original black-and-white photo is untouched — devalues them. So, let’s spend some time looking at the pros and the cons of greater colorization in old photographs.

Pro — It makes the photograph more accessible. Colorized photos are generally easier for people to relate to. They look more “real” than most black-and-white photos, especially when the subject of the photo is a person. Images of Einstein, Darwin, Lincoln, and Marilyn Monroe that have been colorized look more human to viewers. It’s much easier for most people to remember what these people looked like and to extrapolate personality and emotions when they can imagine that person in color.

Con — It gives an unrealistic expectation of older equipment’s performance level. Colorizing old photos is something that must be done by hand. It also requires a bit of knowledge of what colors were used in clothing of that era, what color eyes the person had, their hair color, and other minor details of the individual and the era captured in the photograph. Also, when only some images are colorized while others are left in black-and-white, people unfamiliar with photography may begin to believe that color photography existed much earlier than it truly did. A lot of people have heard the story of the person who brought a photo of their grandfather milking a cow to be edited to remove the cow that blocked the face of their grandfather in the photo. Colorizing photos may lead to more of this confusion among non-photographers.

Pro — It adds new life to the photograph. People, places, and animals live in color. Black and white photography, especially older photography, hides much of the depth and context that colors can give. How much more graphic would a photo like “The Federal Dead on the Field of Battle of First Day, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania” be if instead of seeing it in greyscale or sepia tones, it was colorized? How much clearer would the impact of the Great Depression be if Migrant Mother was shown in color instead of in black and white?

Con — It diminishes the art of black-and-white photography. Modern black-and-white photography is an artform that requires a good degree of skill in photography, a strong knowledge of composition, and the ability to capture the essence of a scene without requiring the colors in it. Black and white photography relies more heavily on knowing how to play with lighting to achieve the shadows and the effects the photographer is after. To cast that aside in favor of purely colorized photos does a disservice to the photographer and to his art.

So, what do you think? Do you prefer photos in their original black and white? Or do you like seeing old photos colorized? Let us know in the comments below!

– da Bird


Historical Photographers: Alfred Stieglitz, Part I

Historical Photographers: Alfred Stieglitz, Part I

This week we’re going to discuss one of the most influential and, in many ways controversial, figures in the world of photography. He campaigned to get photography recognized as an art form co-equal with painting and sculpting. He established several photography clubs and movements. He worked tirelessly to bring new art forms, both photographic and traditional, to America. Starting today, we will be discussing the life and work of Alfred Stieglitz.

Stieglitz was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1864. He grew up there, attending schools in the area but never finding one that challenged him. Finally, his father packed up the family, sold their business, and moved back to his native Germany in hopes of finding a school that could give his first son a proper and thorough education. When he was attending the Technische Hochschule for mechanical engineering, Stieglitz met Hermann Wilhelm Vogel when he signed up for Vogel’s chemistry class. At the time, Vogel was an important researcher and scientist working in the new field of photography. Vogel’s rigor and his interest in a newly-emerging artistic and cultural field were just what Stieglitz needed to spark his interest. Stieglitz soon met Adolf von Menzel and Wilhelm Hasemann, two German artists who specialized in making art from nature. Inspired and encouraged by them, Stieglitz soon purchased his first camera and set to traveling and capturing Europe’s natural beauty. As the 1880s progressed, Stieglitz began writing articles for photography magazines and amassing the books and magazines that would be the bulk of his libraries back in the United States.

He returned to New York, albeit reluctantly, after his sister’s death in 1890. Once there, he steadfastly refused to find work in a field other than photography and also steadfastly refused to sell his photographs. His father purchased a small photography business for Alfred, hoping that his eldest son would be able to indulge his passions and earn a living from it. However, Stieglitz had such a high standard for his own work and the work of his employees that the outfit, Photochrome Engraving Company, rarely made a profit. However, while maintaining it, Stieglitz came into contact with the editor of The American Amateur Photographer magazine. This magazine began to carry articles and features written by Stieglitz. His own exhibitions did well and within a few years, Alfred Stieglitz was known throughout the photography world as a name that meant high-quality, attention to detail, and a relentless pursuit of perfection. In 1892, he had purchased his first hand-held camera and used it to capture two of his most famous images: “Winter, Fifth Avenue” and “The Terminal.” The following year, he was invited to become the co-editor of The American Amateur Photographer for his tireless work in advocating for photography as an art on par with painting.

At the insistence of his parents, Stieglitz married in 1893. His wife, Emmy, was nine years younger than he and the sister of one of his business associates, Joe Obermeyer. Their marriage was not marked by warmth or common interests. Stieglitz, envious of his younger twin siblings’ close relationship, bitterly resented Emmy for failing to become his “twin.” He took Emmy on a delayed honeymoon through Europe where he continued to pursue photography and met French photographer Robert Demachy, and Linked Ring founders George Davidson and Alfred Horsley Hinton. While on this trip, Stieglitz captured several more of his famous photographs including A Venetian Canal, “The Net Mender,” and A Wet Day on the Boulevard, Paris.

After the honeymoon and their return to New York, Stieglitz was unanimously elected to become one of the two American members of the Linked Ring society. Viewing this election as the impetus he needed to step up his cause of promoting artistic photography in the United States, Stieglitz spent the next two years arguing for the merger of the Society of Amateur Photographers and the New York Camera Club. Both groups were more focused on photography’s technical aspects and not at all on its artistic aspects. The membership of both organizations was decaying and their funding base was virtually nonexistent. When they merged to form the Camera Club, Stieglitz began pouring his energy into using the club as a basis for educating Americans on artistic photography. The club’s magazine expanded to carry printed works as well as articles written by Stieglitz. However, as his work became more in demand and more exhibitions were granted to him, Stieglitz was forced to bring in outside help to run the Camera Club and to edit its magazine, Camera Notes. Since the men he brought on board, Joseph Keiley and Dallet Fugeut, were not members of the Camera Club, the older members began to resent Stieglitz’s policies and began working to oust him. The continual battles would soon cause Stieglitz to break down and resign as editor of Camera Notes.

However, there is much more to be said about the life and times of Alfred Stieglitz. Stay tuned for the next installment in this work to learn more about one of the men who made photography into the art and discipline it is today!

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday which means it’s time for another one of our weekly recaps of the top stories from the world of photography over the past week. We tweet these stories out all week every week. But, if you’re not following us on Twitter then you might have missed out on things from the coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s cleanup, the American Presidential Campaign, and the announcement of the latest addition to Nikon’s line-up.

So, let’s get to the wrap-up, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for this week, folks! Stay safe over the weekend and see you again on Monday!

– da Bird