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2012: A Year in Review

2012: A Year in Review

2012 has been an interesting year with plenty of opportunities for photography. The biggest news stories from this year were the US Presidential election, Hurricane Sandy hitting the northeast, the Syrian civil war, and the riots in Greece and Spain over austerity measures. Other major stories include the gradual draw-down of NATO troops in Afghanistan as the Afghan government prepares to take over security for itself and its citizens. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 60th year of her rule this year, marking the second time in history that a British monarch has lived to see their diamond jubilee. The Olympics were also a big event this year in London. To see the photos of the year in review, head over to the Boston.com’s 2012 Year in Pictures Part I, Part II, and Part III.

In camera news, Samsung released the first of its Smart Cameras this year. With on-board WiFi, these cameras can easily share, upload, or email images. Not to be outdone, other camera manufacturers followed Samsung’s lead and now many cameras come with on-board WiFi and the ability to use a smartphone as a remote control as well as a simple app that allows you to share images over the Internet. Sony released a rugged and durable Action Camera in the late summer. Canon and Nikon continue to duke it out in the big leagues as they compete for the professional photographer market in high-end DSLRs.

Advances in technology continue to make smaller cameras more powerful with greater and greater resolutions. Smartphones are getting better lenses and camera sensors in them but still do not beat out even the lowest-end point-and-shoot camera. In 2013, we can expect to see this trend continue.

What major events did you photograph this year? What news impacted you the most? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you have any images you want to share with us, feel free to do so over on our Facebook wall.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s the last Friday of 2012 and that means it’s time for the last weekly wrap-up of the year! This week and year have been busy ones in the world of photography. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, and Fuji have been releasing new cameras for the consumer, pro-sumer, and professional markets. News journals such as The Atlantic, National Geographic, and others have been out and about photographing big events around the world: the 2012 US Presidential election, Hurricane Sandy, the Syrian Civil War, the changing of the government in China, and more. Check back Monday for our 2012 in review. And, if you haven’t been following us on Twitter then read on to get caught up on the top stories you might have missed in the last week of 2012!

That’s all for this week, everyone! Have a great weekend and see you again for our Year in Review on Monday!

– da Bird


Historical Photographers: Robert Capa

Historical Photographers: Robert Capa

Some of the most famous photos taken during the twentieth century were photos taken in times of war and strife. Brave photographers, armed with cameras instead of rifles, took to the fields of war alongside soldiers and captured the hectic heroism of war. One of those photographers, most well-known for the images of the Allied forces storming the beaches of Normandy, was Robert Capa.

Robert Capa was born Endre Ernő Friedmann in Budapest, Austria-Hungary in 1913. Finding little to do in his homeland, he left at 18 with aspirations to become a writer. However, while working in Berlin, he discovered photography. He worked as a photographer there until 1933 when he moved to France. Finding it easier to sell his photographs under a more American name, he adopted the name “Robert Capa.” “Capa” came from both his nickname — cápa, meaning “shark,” — and in honor of the early 1900s film director Frank Capra. Robert Capa’s first published photograph was one he took of Leon Trotsky in 1932 during Trotsky’s speech “The Meaning of the Russian Revolution” in Copenhagen.

From there, Capa’s work and photographs began a steady climb. Throughout the late 1930s, Capa, his photography partner and fiancé Gerda Taro, and Daniel Seymour traveled throughout Spain capturing images and reporting on the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. During this period, Capa is believed to have taken the photo “The Falling Soldier.” This photo’s authorship is still disputed with many believing it belongs to Capa while others, most notably several Spanish newspapers, claiming that it was taken, not in Cerro Muriano as Capa and his supporters claim, but rather near Espejo, 10 kilometers away. The falling soldier in the photo has been identified as Federico Borrell García, from Alcoi (Alicante) who was believed to have been killed during a firefight between Spain and the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification Militiamen. Those who believe that Capa did not take this photograph allege that it was staged and that the falling soldier was not killed. In 1937, Capa left Taro to take a brief business trip back to Paris. Taro was killed in near Brunete during a battle. Capa took her death hard and would never marry. His only other relationship would be with Elaine Justin during the Second World War.

After the Spanish Civil War, Capa traveled to China in 1938 and documented the Chinese resistance to Imperial Japan’s invasion of the Chinese homeland. He then returned to Europe for a brief spell before escaping to Mexico where a misadventure caused many of the images from the Spanish Civil War to be lost for decades took place. While in Mexico during this flight from Europe, Capa lost the collection of his photos and negatives. Dubbed the “Mexican suitcase,” this collection was only found in the 1990s when the owner of the negatives, Benjamin Tarver, decided to return them to the families and estates of the those who had taken the photographs. The Mexican suitcase contained over 4,500 negatives, many of them taken by Capa and Taro. Ownership of these images was given to the Capa estate and the collection can now be viewed at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, a museum founded by Robert Capa’s younger brother Cornell.

When the Second World War broke out, Capa was in New York City looking for work. He had fled Europe to look for work during the Great Depression as well as to escape persecution from the Nazis. Capa quickly found work with several American magazines, Collier and Life among them, and was sent out on assignment to the European theater of the Second World War. He was the only “enemy alien” photographer the Allied forces had. In July and August of 1943, Capa found himself in Sicily with the American troops as they advanced on Troina. Capa captured images of the Sicilian people’s suffering under German domination and their joy when they were liberated by the American forces. One of the most well-known images Capa took during this phase of the war shows a Sicilian peasant pointing out the way that the German troops had taken near Sperlinga. Near the end of his time in Sicily, Capa and Will Lang, Jr., were in Naples and captured images of the Naples post office bombing.

After his assignments in Sicily, Capa was sent to join the D-Day forces in Britian. He was with the second wave of American troops to come onto the Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day. From there, he captured his most famous photographs — the Magnificant Eleven collection. In reality, Capa took over one hundred photos of the D-Day landings but, due to a fire at the photo lab in London, only eleven survive.

After the end of World War II, Capa and John Steinbeck traveled to the USSR where Capa took photos of Moscow, Kiev, Tbilisi, Batumi, and the ruins of Stalingrad. Steinbeck wrote a humorous book during their trip (A Russian Journal) which was illustrated with many of Capa’s photographs.

In 1947, Capa, along with Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Vandivert, David Seymour, and George Rodger, founded Magnum Photos. He became president of this venture in 1951. Capa also toured the newly-refounded nation of Israel and took many photographs which were published in Irwin Shaw’s book Report on Israel. During the 1950s, Capa traveled to Indochina on assignment for Life magazine. Though he had vowed not to photograph another war, Capa was persuaded to take the assignment. On May 25, 1954, he stepped out of the Jeep in which he and several others were traveling and decided to walk up the road to photograph the advance. He stepped on a landmine and died shortly thereafter.

Capa’s photography, short-lived though it was, inspired a new generation of war photographers. Today, many of his photos can be viewed in the museum his younger brother, Cornell Capa — also a photographer — founded in Manhattan. The Overseas Press Club also created a medal in his honor. The Robert Capa Gold Medal is given annually to the photographer who provides the “best published photographic reporting from abroad, requiring exceptional courage and enterprise.” Capa’s style changed the way that wars were photographed as well. Disdaining remaining safely at arm’s length, Capa joined the soldiers in the trenches and was quoted as saying that “if your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

– da Bird


Happy Holidays from Beach Camera!

It’s December 24th — Christmas Eve. All of us here at Beach Camera would just like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your business over the past year and to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! We will be offering special post-Christmas clearance deals later this week. Several of our most popular televisions will be available for new, low prices for the New Year. You’ll be able to watch the big game on a larger screen with sharper colors and higher detail than ever before at a price that doesn’t pinch your post-holiday pocket book at all!

Televisions won’t be the only things up for grabs at newer, lower prices after the holiday. Be sure to check back here and to visit our clearance page for all the details. However, for now, spend the day with your family and friends. Enjoy your special Christmas traditions and, if you photograph any of them, feel free to share those memories with us over on our Facebook page.

Merry Christmas, all!

– Beach Camera


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday, December 21st and the world has not ended. Looks like all of the hoopla over the Mayan calendar was wrong. If you’ve been busy this past week preparing for the end of the world that wasn’t, then you might have missed out on a lot of the big stories in photography and camera releases, like the kerfuffle over Instagram’s terms of use update this week, that we’ve mentioned on Twitter. So, for all of you who were too busy or who aren’t following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the week in news for you below.

That’s all for this week, folks! If you’re traveling this weekend, stay safe and see you again next week!

– da Bird


Famous Photographers: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Famous Photographers: Henri Cartier-Bresson

The early part of the 20th century was a time of firsts and births in photography. Names like Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, and others stand out among the crowd as being the men who brought photography out of obscurity and cemented it as a modern artform. However, these giants were not alone. Other men were working to revolutionize the way that the public considered photography as well as exploring the boundaries of this new artistic medium. Among those men was Henri Cartier-Bresson, the master of candid photography — a French photographer who got his start as a surrealist painter.

Cartier-Bresson began and ended his artistic life as a painter. Introduced to oil painting by his Uncle Louis at a young age, he went to Lhote Academy at the age of 20. Lhote Academy was the Parisian studio of the Cubist painter and sculptor André Lhote. While at the Academy, Cartier-Bresson also studied with the portrait-maker Jacques Émile Blanche. Lhote and Blanche’s aspirations to instill their student with both the classical and the more modern methods of painting gave Cartier-Bresson a profound appreciation for art. He went on to consider Lhote his “photography teacher without a camera.” Even as Lhote’s rule-heavy methods made Cartier-Bresson grow more and more restless, those very same methods would later influence and inform his own photography.

In the 1920s, as surrealism was springing up throughout Europe, Cartier-Bresson fell in with the crowd and matured artistically in this stormy climate. However, he was unable to realize his ambition of expressing the concepts and theories that under-girded Surrealism in his painting. In the late 1920s, Cartier-Bresson was forced to complete a two-year term of service in the French Army and then entered into a love affair with Caresse Crosby. After the affair ended, he traveled to the Ivory Coast in Africa and lived as a hunter until 1931 when, after suffering from blackwater fever, he returned to France and renewed his acquaintance with the Surrealist movement.

Cartier-Bresson decided to devote his efforts to photography after seeing a photo by Martin Munkacsi. The photo Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika captured the essence of life of the subjects so completely that Cartier-Bresson decided to take his camera out and see if he could do the same. “I suddenly understood that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant,” were his thoughts after seeing Munkasci’s photo. Cartier-Bresson took his 50mm Leica and began capturing life as it happened in the crowded streets of Marseilles. He chose to keep his cameras small and unobtrusive, using mostly 35mm cameras and even going so far as to paint the shiny parts of his Leica black, so that he could remain anonymous and avoid the stilted formality that came up whenever people knew they were being photographed. He disdained the use of flash as well. Instead, he hid in the crowd, using it as a way to maintain his anonymity while he captured the moments and movements of life in all their intimate and natural detail. He worked mostly in Berlin, Brussels, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Madrid, not feeling comfortable photographing his native France until later in life. In the 1930s, his photos were exhibited in New York (1932), Madrid (1932), and in Mexico (1934).

Cartier-Bresson’s photography career was interrupted by the Second World War. After the end of WWII, he and his comrades Robert Capa, David Seymour, William Vandivert, and George Rodger founded Magnum Photos, a cooperative picture agency owned by its members. Working as a photojournalist and keeping his own candid style, Cartier-Bresson took assignments in India and China, capturing images of Gandhi’s funeral in 1948, the last stage of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the last six months of the Kuomintang administration and the first six months of the rule of the Maoist People’s Republic. Cartier-Bresson captured the images of the last surviving Imperial eunuchs in Beijing before moving on to Indonesia where he photographed the country as it became independent from Dutch rule.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Cartier-Bresson traveled around the world. He became the first Western photographer to openly photograph in the Soviet Union. His images, distributed by Magnum, were widely known in the journals and newsletters of the Western world. However, in the mid 1960s, Cartier-Bresson decided to give up photography and return to his roots in drawing and painting. He retired as a principal of Magnum Photos and focused entirely on his art, taking only a few private photographs, until his death in 2004.


Cinematography: The Three Phases of Movie Making

Cinematography: The Three Phases of Movie Making

With the winter weather setting in and cold and flu season in full force, movies are becoming a mainstay of entertainment during these cold, dark months. However, many people don’t know how movies are made. Today’s entry will attempt to dispel a bit of the mystery behind movie making by discussing the three phases of it — especially the second phase, principal photography.

If you have ever lived in a major metropolitan area that is frequently used as an “on location” place for shooting movies or television shows, then you might be familiar with a phase of filming called “principal photography.” For those of us who do not live near such a destination, today’s entry will be a bit of “behind the scenes” for movie-making.

Movies are produced in three distinct phases. The first phase is called “pre-production” and is where the roles are cast, the screenplay is finalized, the shots are planned, and the money is promised. Pre-production occurs after a movie idea has been given the “green light” by the studio. This is also the phase that many movies never come out of.

The next phase is the topic of today’s entry: principal photography. This is the phase that involves actively shooting the scenes in the script. Actors are taken to the set or on location and video cameras, camera crews, sound crews, and a plethora of other studio hands are there to see that the project moves on smoothly. If you should ever happen to find yourself in a major city like New York, Montreal, Toronto, or Seattle and happen to see a street where a lane or sidewalk is taken up with movie cameras, microphones, and other filming equipment, chances are you’re seeing principal photography in action. Principal photography is the most expensive and the most intense part of movie-making.

Why is it called principal photography? The term principal photography refers to the fact that this is the part of the process where filming or photography is of the most importance. There may have been some preliminary shoots during pre-production to test new camera set-ups, lighting techniques, or perspective tricks but those will generally not be shown in the film. The scenes shot during principal photography are the scenes that will make up the movie. Therefore, principal photography will often not begin until the director and the cinematographer both know how to achieve any special effects they want to achieve during this phase or if those effects must be edited in during post-production.

Once principal photography is finished or “wrapped,” the film goes into post-production where the edits are made, scenes are cut if needed, and there may be an occasional need to re-shoot a scene. Post-production can often take longer than principal photography since this phase is where music and soundtracks are added and the film itself is processed and color correction can be applied.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another week gone brings us to another wonderful Friday. This week has been a busy one in the world of photography. More annual wrap-ups from the top magazines have been published. Several more reviews on lately released or soon to be released cameras have been posted just in time for the holiday season. Gift guides galore have made their way across the Internet. All of these stories are things you might have missed out on if you are not following us on Twitter. Don’t worry, though. We’ll recap the top stories from this week for you below!

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

– da Bird


Seasonal Gatherings and Photography

Seasonal Gatherings and Photography

Every year, families and friends get together for the holidays to celebrate the year that is passing and to welcome the years to come. Everyone has their normal “roles” at these gatherings — the greeter, the quiet person, the gossip, etc — but one thing I’ve noticed is that every one of these gatherings has someone who is the photographer. I’ve also noticed that the photographer tends to either be the retired grandfather or the young mother in the group.

I also notice that there are a lot of forced photo opportunities in these gatherings. Some of them are understandable — it’s not too often you’ll get a natural image of several generations sitting orderly, looking the same direction, and staying still for a few seconds. However, some of these forced photo-ops are going to result in exactly the opposite of what you, the photographer, wants. So, plan your shots in advance and roll with the punches as best you can to capture the magic of this holiday season. Here are a few tips to help you on your way this year.

1. If the kids are playing happily, don’t try to force them out of it — If you want to get lots of images of happy children, then the last thing you want to do is try to make them stop playing to pose for your photos. Instead, try to work around any obstacles to capture the images without the kids even knowing that you’re there.

2. Don’t force smiles — Nothing ruins a great shot or a portrait more than a plastered-on fake smile. So, try to wait for the subject to smile naturally. This may mean timing your shots or giving up some of the organization that comes with posed shots and going for something that is a little more chaotic than what you’d normally want.

3. The people aren’t the only subjects in the season. Don’t be afraid to get up-close-and-personal with the decorations, both interior and exterior. Sometimes it’s the way that the house is decorated that winds up being the thing people remember decades down the road.

4. Get a shot of the holiday meal. If conditions permit, try to get some photos of the food before everyone digs in. For people who are great cooks, the beauty of the setting is just as important as the taste of the meal itself.

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not used to working outside of auto-mode, then try going manual and tinkering a bit with photos of objects. You’ll be surprised what changing the settings can do to shots of ornaments or fruits!

That’s all from us here at Beach Camera. Do you have any suggestions or tips to add? If so, post them in the comments below! Or, better yet, share some of your holiday photos with us and we’ll post them here for the world to see!

– da Bird


Historical Photographers: Yousuf Karsh

Historical Photographers: Yousuf Karsh

If you’ve seen some of the most well-known photos of famous and influential people from the 20th century, then chances are that you’ve seen Yousuf Karsh’s work. He was the photographer who captured the most famous photograph of Winston Churchill that became the cover of Life magazine. He also photographed Queen Elizabeth II, Albert Einstein, and John F. Kennedy. However, Yousuf’s photography came about because of luck: both the good and the bad.

Yousuf was born in 1908 in Madrin, a city in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire — which is Turkey, today. He grew up during the Armenian genocide and watched many of his friends and relatives die while he and his family fled from village to village in search of safety. At the age of 16, Yousuf’s parents sent him to live with his uncle George Nakash in Canada. George owned a photography studio and Yousuf worked there while attending school in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Nakash recognized his nephew’s potential and arranged for Yousuf to work under the direction of John Garo, an American photographer in Boston, Massachusetts. Yousuf went and worked for Garo for four years before returning to Canada with an eye towards making his own mark on the world of photography.

In 1931, Yousuf began working for another photographer named John Powls. Powls owned a studio near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. When Powls retired in 1933, Karsh took over the studio. In 1936, Karsh had his first solo exhibition at the Chateau Laurier. In the years that followed, Yousuf Karsh was discovered by Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King. King arranged for Karsh to be introduced to visiting dignitaries and to take their portraits. In 1941, when visiting the Canadian House of Commons, Winston Churchill became one of the many to have his portrait done by Karsh.

Karsh was a master of lighting and used studio lights and other lights to leave his distinctive mark on his works. One of his most common traits was to light the hands of his subject separately from their face. He also had a gift for capturing the essence of his subject in the instant of his portrait, stating his belief that “Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.”

Karsh’s work includes portraits of Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, Muhammad Ali, Marian Anderson, W. H. Auden, Joan Baez, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Humphrey Bogart, Alexander Calder, Pablo Casals, Fidel Castro, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Joan Crawford, Ruth Draper, Albert Einstein, Dwight Eisenhower, Princess Elizabeth, Robert Frost, Clark Gable, Indira Gandhi, Grey Owl, Ernest Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn, Pope John Paul II, Chuck Jones, Carl Jung, Helen Keller and Polly Thompson, Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Peter Lorre, Pandit Nehru, Georgia O’Keeffe, Laurence Olivier, General Pershing, Pablo Picasso, Pope Pius XII, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Paul Robeson, the rock band Rush, Albert Schweitzer, George Bernard Shaw, Jean Sibelius, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the aforementioned Winston Churchill.