Friday, 31 of October of 2014

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Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings us to the end of another great week in the world of photography. There were plenty of action-filled stories for photo journalists to cover this week: the wildfires in Colorado, the ongoing war in Syria, the Bore Tides in China are just a few stories picked up and photographed by outlets such as InFocus and the Boston Globe. Beyond that, photographers have been offering more and more helpful advice on gear, technique, and settings to help new photographers take those first steps beyond using automatic settings. Nikon and Sony have new cameras rolling out and we, along with others, are waiting for them and reading the reviews and break-downs eagerly.

All of these stories and more were covered in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the top stories from this week for you below.


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

– da Bird


Photography Adventure: Close Up With An Alligator

Photography Adventure: Close Up With An Alligator

Wildlife and nature photographers love to get close to their subjects. However, sometimes they get a little too close for comfort. When that happens, usually the best case scenario is a jolt of adrenaline and a lesson well-learned. However, sometimes photography gear is confiscated by the local wildlife as part of the lesson-teaching (don’t get too close and always be aware of what’s going on around you). When this happens, photographers generally have to write-off the loss and come to terms with losing many valuable photos.

Unless the photographer is Mario Aldecoa who had his gear returned to him by the friendliest alligator on Earth eight months after the same alligator had “borrowed” it.

Aldecoa’s story starts when he was trying to get some images of one hundred gators and their beady glowing eyes as they swam through part of the Everglades Alligator Farm where he works putting on alligator shows. However, one alligator was not feeling particularly photogenic that night and objected to having his photograph taken. So, he grabbed Aldecoa’s camera and tripod and continued swimming with the rest of his bask, leaving the photographer dealing with the aftereffects of a close encounter with the reptile kind.

The next day, Aldecoa and several others did try combing the pond to see if he could at least find his tripod but to no avail. For eight months, the amateur photographer wrote off his camera and tripod as a complete loss. Until the alligator decided to return the gear he had stolen. Just last Friday, a keeper at the Everglades Alligator Farm noticed that one of his gators had a camera wrapped around its leg. He managed to get the camera away from the reptile and reunited the ruined camera with its owner, Mario Aldecoa. Through some miracle, the memory card in the camera had survived being waterlogged and coated with sand, silt, and mud for eight months. Aldecoa was able to retrieve the images he’d been capturing though only one of them was clear enough to share. The camera itself, though of good quality, was not equal to the treatment and was retired with honors.

– da Bird


The Afghan Girl

The Afghan Girl

Last week’s entry about the iPhone Photography Award winners had an image in it that made me remember this famous photograph taken by Steve McCurry for the cover of The National Geographic. The photo has been called “the Afghan Mona Lisa” and is quite beautiful. The woman photographed, Sharbat Gula, was twelve at the time the photo was taken. Gula was orphaned by the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan. She escaped the war and fled into neighboring Pakistan with her siblings and grandmother. The famous photograph of her was taken when she was living in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp.

For many years, she was known only as “the Afghan girl” after the title of the photo. National Geographic says that this photo is probably the most famous cover image used in the history of their magazine. The search for the Afghan girl’s identity didn’t take place until 2002 after the removal of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Sharbat herself was unaware of the famous photograph until she and McCurry were reunited in 2002.

The Afghan girl photo has inspired other photographers to try to recreate the intensity and beauty in their own work. South African photographer Jodi Bieber cited McCurry’s photo as being the inspiration of her own photo of Bibi Aisha, a woman whose face had been disfigured by her husband and brother-in-law. National Geographic also set up an Afghan Girls education fund to help ensure that Afghan women and girls received education. Sharbat herself is living in Afghanistan with her husband and their three daughters and hopes that her children will receive the education that was interrupted for her when she had to flee the Soviets.

Do any of you remember seeing this photo on the cover of National Geographic? What did you think of it when you first saw it? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings another end to another busy week in the world of photography. Sony, Nikon, and Canon have all been in the headlines this week with new camera reviews, firmware updates, and more. With school back in session, many photographers have been taking time to try educate new students in the intricacies of photography as a passion and as a career choice. Mobile photography is on the rise and this week saw the unveiling of the 2013 iPhone Photography Award winners.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed. However, if you are not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights from this week for you below!


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

– da Bird


2013 iPhone Photography Awards Winners

2013 iPhone Photography Awards Winners

Mobile or smartphone photography has made great strides in the past few years. Smartphone manufacturers are building in better cameras and sensors and some camera manufacturers, such as Sony, are beginning to develop snap-on accessories to further enhance the images that users can capture with their smartphones. App developers are improving as well and mobile photography has begun to enter its own. That’s why the images from the 2013 iPhone Photography Awards are so impressive.

The rules of this competition are fairly straightforward. All photos must be captured with an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod). They cannot be edited with any computer desktop software such as Photoshop. They can, however, be altered with apps such as Instagram, Hipstamatic, and CameraBag but the photographers are urged to keep the original image at hand, unaltered, in case the judges want to ensure that no other apps or devices were used. With a bit of talent, patience, and understanding the limits of a smartphone camera, savvy mobile photographers have captured some really great images this year. Some of these images might have been well-nigh on impossible to capture with the same kind of equipment and limitations on editing just a few short years ago.

I think my three favorite images from this year’s winners are these three:

Just a few years ago, I doubt any mobile photographer could have captured such clear, crisp images on a smartphone camera. Especially the images from Brolin Roney and Kim Hanskamp. The use of filters from an iOS app in Maegan Moore’s photo is very well done, making that landscape look almost like a painting.

As mobile photography continues to mature as a discipline, we look forward to seeing fledgling photographers test their skills in this field. If the results are as astounding as these images, then it is a discipline well worth embracing and will act as a gateway to trying out more advanced cameras.

– da Bird


Frozen Moments in Time

Frozen Moments in Time

Last week, we discussed a photo essay called “Havana Nights” which gives the city of Havana, Cuba an empty and eerily desolate look. That photo article made me remember this other photography article I read a few years back. It’s a series of photographs taken by a woman touring one of the most abandoned places on earth: Chernobyl.

Chernobyl is something of a watchword for many of us. If you were old enough to remember it, then it and Three Mile Island are inedible memories. So, when we look at photos from inside the “Dead Zone,” for a lot of us, it’s like looking back on the remnants of an abandoned childhood. I can remember wearing similar style dresses as the girls in Chapter 18 are sporting. A lot of the toys and even the phones from that era look like they would have been common in my own home. The village and the area around the reactor are great places for historians and photographers because they really do represent a single frozen moment in time.

It’s eerie to think of places like that. People who have taken the tour of the Dead Zone (and yes, you can visit it) say that the silence is deafening. There are no familiar sounds we associate with even the smallest towns. No distant cars. No airplanes. No buzzing on the electrical lines. Just silence. It’s pretty spooky.

What are some other abandoned places that photographers might like to visit? If you could go to one of them, would you? Let us know in the comments below!

– da Bird

PS: When this photo site was first published, it was one of the earliest examples on the Internet of urban exploration. Initially, the writer behind the site claimed to have taken the photographs during a motorcycle tour of the Dead Zone. However, unauthorized persons are not permitted inside the Dead Zone. Only workers and agents monitoring the area come in their own vehicles. Everyone else, including the woman behind the photographs, comes in as part of one of the tour groups.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Ah. Friday. It comes only once a week but is probably the most anxiously awaited day out of the seven. But this Friday brings an end to a rather hectic week in the world of photography. With summer beginning to fade and temperatures starting to fall, photographers and camera manufacturers alike are going into overdrive, ramping up to capture the changing of the colors that will begin next month and getting their new line-ups ready for the Christmas season. Photographers around the world are also offering last-minute travel and travel photography tips. The Perseid meteor shower took place last weekend marking another major annual event in photography.

All of these things and more were recounted on our Twitter feed. However, if you are not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights from this week for you below!


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

– da Bird


Secret Places and Photography

Secret Places and Photography

This may not be such a secret anymore considering that even I have heard of it but, if you haven’t, then it’s well work checking out. Apparently, there is a secret, abandoned subway station in NYC. Built in 1904, this station has been closed and left untouched since 1945. It’s a beautiful place, filled with hanging lights, intricate and immaculate tile-work, and has that timeless feel to it. It’s rather like the American version of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters from Harry Potter in that it is clean and looks untouched by the passage of time.

The station at City Hall closed its doors in 1945 when the new, longer trains required to meet the demand placed by commuters in the subway created large gaps between the platform and the doors at this station. Coupled with the fact that only 600 people per day embarked or disembarked at City Hall, the transit authorities decided it wasn’t worth the headache to keep it open. Plans were initially made to turn it into a museum but, as with so many things, it fell through.

Today the City Hall subway station is a place where many urban photographers cut their teeth. Picturesque, mysterious, and free of people and their habit of making any place look…well…not-so-new, this station is a great place to practice photography and to practice some of the tricks of the trade that come with urban photography — sneaking into places where one isn’t exactly supposed to be being the primary. Beyond the City Hall station itself, there are several tunnels that house murals and paintings done by street artists. However, entering those areas without approval can lead to arrest or death so we don’t recommend you visit them even if the artwork is very unique.

– da Bird

Image by: John-Paul Palescandolo and Eric Kazmirek


Havana Nights

Havana Nights

While looking for stories to Tweet about today, I stumbled across this rather haunting photo series by Liban Yousef called Havana Darkly. The photos are all very beautiful and Yousef has obviously made good use of his camera’s control functions to capture them. However, what is most outstanding, to me, about these photos is the eerie empty feeling they have. Taken at night, they make me think I’m looking at photos of a ghost town or of some place that time forgot.

Granted, the United States started its embargo of Cuba back in the 1960s which is why so many of the cars seem to be from the 1950s or 60s. The buildings themselves also lend to this quality of temporal amnesia, though. Looking at them, signs of time’s passage are very clear in the flaking paint, the dirt, and the stains. Even the streets look as if they’ve not been well-maintained. Even in some of the photos were there are people in the frame, you get a sense that they might be the only people in the entire city. It’s chilling but beautiful.

To be sure, there are true ghost towns in the world. There are several towns that were abandoned in the western part of the United States — their crumbling structures and detritus the only proof that people once lived there. But to see a city like Havana so quiet and desolate that it makes one feel as if they are looking backwards in time…that takes a really good photographer.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday again and it’s the end of another busy week in the world of photography. National Geographic closed out their 2013 Photography Contest and posted the winning photos this week. That’s always a major event in photography. Beyond that, photojournalists have been out covering the top stories of the week and our friends over at Photography Talk have been spilling over the brim with advice on improving photography, the best cameras to go for, and more. Nikon’s also been making headlines a lot this week with several big announcments.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


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

– da Bird