Monday, 21 of April of 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings an end to an improving week. Spring officially started a couple of days ago and the weather might actually decide to let that happen. That means that soon photographers will be taking to the road on trips to photograph the awakening of all the plants and animals that hibernate through the winter. However, this week had only a bit of the Holi celebrations in India, unrest in various parts of the world, and a lot of new cameras coming out. It’s been a crazy one and if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap it for you below.


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

– da Bird


Announcing the New Samsung NX Mini Mirrorless Camera

Announcing the New Samsung NX Mini Mirrorless Camera

Samsung, never one to be outdone when it comes to innovation in cameras, just announced their latest NX camera, a mini mirrorless. While the specs are pretty intense, the coolest thing about this camera is that it will be the smallest interchangeable lens camera out on the market. It’s practically a pocket-sized DSLR.

And, if that’s not enough to pique your curiosity, then the fact that it’s lightweight and smart should do the job. Tiny as this camera is, it still comes with built-in WiFi and wireless networking so that you can share your photos immediately after taking them. It also comes with a flip-up LCD screen so you can frame yourself in the image if you’re taking a selfie. The NX mini will come with a large 1-inch type 20.5MP BSI CMOS Sensor, allowing it to pack a punch well over its weight class while not having all the additional bulk you’ll find in a more traditional high end DSLR. The projected price tag is also very sweet: $449.

Lastly, the NX mini will be able to replicate a lot of functions that other cameras could only dream about having. Imagine pairing it with your smartphone and using the NX mini as a baby monitor. Your infant wakes up and begins making noise and the camera takes a photo and sends it straight to your phone so you can determine if you need to drop what you’re doing right now and go tend to your offspring or if your child is content and happily gurgling at that black box thingy while you finish whatever adult task you have on your plate. You could also use it as a spy cam in a pinch though you probably don’t want to leave it anywhere where it could get wet or broken or shot at.

We will be stocking this sweet little NX mini on our shelves so check back for updates on pre-ordering and availability!

– da Bird


VSCO Announces $100K Scholarship Fund

VSCO Announces $100K Scholarship Fund

From the “this is pretty nifty” corner of the Internet comes this article about Visual Supply Company, the makers of the VSCO Cam smartphone app, have set up a scholarship for artistic and mobile photographers.

Now, normally, when we talk about mobile photography or smartphone apps, it’s in the context of a brand new area of photography and, occasionally, in hopes of getting them to be more disciplined and more like traditional photographers who walk around with heavy, expensive equipment. And, goodness knows that the traditional fields of photography offer very few scholarships of late. Yes, there are some and they do help a lot. But when it comes to actually giving money to a photographer who can guarantee a return on it (of sorts), such contracts or awards usually go to someone with a good bit of experience, not someone who shows a lot of promise but could use some money and time to hone their skills a bit more.

Photography, like many of the other arts, is a field where practitioners — even professional ones — expect people to spend a while starving for their skills and art before they finally manage to stumble onto a gig that will let them pay the bills. And while there is some merit to having such a rough shake-down, what it really does is close the field to the young and experimental and ensure that only the already rich or the old (who have more money and more leisure time) pursue the artistic bounds of photography. All of the other young photographers are either too busy working outside of the field or are scrambling trying to get enough work so that they can eat something other than ramen. And mobile or Internet photography, what with its share-ability and tendency to be free and easily “borrowed” by others is probably one of the most difficult fields to work in. So, it’s great that some place like Visual Supply Company is willing to put its money where its mouth is and see what it can do to support and welcome new, young mobile photographers to the field.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday again and it’s been another fun week in the world of photography. With the paralympics in Sochi and plenty of other big news stories swarming the stage this week, there have been plenty of opportunities for photojournalists to get their names out there and take a photo that could change the world. In addition to that, plenty of photographers have been out offering advice on everything from aperture to shutter speed to lens and lighting tricks to their less experienced brethren. And, the manufacturers have been testing out and tricking out their latest camera designs in hopes of discovering the Next Big Thing when it comes to cameras.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. If you aren’t following us on Twitter then we’ll replay the highlights for you below.


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

– da Bird


The Shared Experience of Art and Photography

The Shared Experience of Art and Photography

A post I read over at The Online Photographer has gotten me to thinking about the experience that is shared between the creator and the audience in both art and photography. The audience will almost always walk away from the image with impressions that the artist never intended to make. Sometimes, those impressions are exactly the opposite from what the artist intended. And, in some extreme cases, modern interpretations are forced upon Classical or pre-modern arts and literature using methods to divine meanings that the creator could not have intended because such vocabulary or philosophies were non-existent in his era (ex. “a postmodern, deconstructionist, gender-feminist, Marxist literary interpretation of misogyny and social justice in Homer’s The Iliad“).

Still, there is a very real shared experience between the artist and the audience which sometimes results in one reading more into the work than the other intended. Some photographers view this with a mild bit of dread as it seems the author of that article, Mike Johnson, feels. He seems to be of the mindset that once a photo has been taken, no future variance in interpretation should be allowed. While I can see some merit in that viewpoint (after all, none of us are going to radically reinterpret V-J Day in Times Square as being anything other than a celebration of the end of World War II), I also can understand that sometimes, even if the reason for taking the photo is still the same, the feelings about the photo will be different. And that’s okay. The example that Johnson gives is the photo of his daughter and the paper mâché dog. He originally took the photo just to capture a moment he thought was particularly precious. But now, he looks at the photo and sees it as:

The photograph is a metaphor for a child’s innocence and it is tinged with sadness. Children are easily duped, in particular because they have unfettered imaginations. For instance, Westerners spin a yarn about Father Christmas. Although absurd, children have no problem believing it. Their scant knowledge of the real world and their fertile imaginations combine to make the story utterly believable to them. One day, they will awaken. For now, the ruse gives them joy, so we let them persist in their ignorance…

There’s nothing wrong with his present interpretation. He shouldn’t feel as though he’d be tarred and feathered for his perspective changing. Indeed, though we still view V-J Day in Times Square as an iconic image of celebration, we also now look back on it as being from a simpler era where men and women had more clearly defined roles. Indeed, if a sailor grabbed a random woman on the street today and kissed her, he’d be guilty of assault. Sometimes we long for a return to that simpler era and sometimes we look back and are amused that we ever once thought the world could be such a simple place.

Changing your view and your interpretation, so long as you are not forcing a completely alien viewpoint on the creator, is not only normal, it’s human. We all view the world through our own parochial points.

– da Bird


Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

If you missed the premiere of this awesome show last night, you can catch it tonight on National Geographic at 9/10 Eastern. Trust me, it is worth your while to watch this and record it for posterity so that this series doesn’t survive only in bootlegged editions like the first one from 1980 did.

Last year, FOX announced that they were going to redo and bring up-to-date the series that Carl Sagan had done in the late 1970s called Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. In that era, the show made use of some of the most high-end computer graphics and camera effects to help bring the story of the entire universe to life for the audience. Aimed at those who were not scientists but had the same innate curiosity and wonder about the workings of the cosmos as any astrophysicist, Cosmos went on to become something of a landmark show in the geek crowd. Using language that was both precise but easy-to-understand in its elegance, Sagan helped introduce many children and adults to the fundamentals of the space age.

In the thirty-four years since the first Cosmos aired, science has advanced by leaps and bounds. The optics in our telescopes have improved. The lenses in the cameras on our space probes, landers, and satellites are much better and more powerful. And those advances have trickled down to the photography market, helping to improve cameras for everyone. We’ve learned so much more about the universe than we knew in the late 1970s and Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey shows that in more than just its top-notch special effects, computer graphics, and camera effects. With shows like this, it’s easy to believe that we’ll not only see another generation of scientists, engineers, and space explorers come up, but we’ll also continue to see improvements in optics and data processing that will improve consumer-grade goods like televisions and cameras.

So, if you have the chance to watch this show, do so. If you don’t, then see if you can find someone to record it for you and send you the DVD. No word out from Fox yet as to whether or not it will be available for sale or digital download after the airing.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Ah, it’s Friday again and that means it’s time for another one of our weekly wrap-ups where we recap the top stories from the photography industry and photography fans over the past week. This week has been a good one, especially for Nikon. Their newest camera, the Nikon Df, is getting some really good buzz out there on the Internet. There have also been a lot of breaking news stories to cover from the riots in Argentina to the invasion of Crimea and the end of Mardi Gras and Carnivale. Photographers have had plenty of things to capture this week — that’s for certain.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed. 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


Things Not To Do As A Photographer

Things Not To Do As A Photographer

Photography is both a profession and a hobby for a lot of people. With the proliferation of built-in cameras in smartphones and tablets, it’s become inevitable that photography itself has exploded to become one of the most common activities in day-to-day life. Most people don’t think of themselves as photographers, though, when they whip out their smartphone and snap a photo. And, a lot of them don’t follow the time-honored etiquette that professional or enthusiasts adhere to without much though. So, today, we’ll discuss a few tics that newly-minted smartphone (or mobile) photographers have that drive people up the wall.

1. Don’t photograph strangers — If you’re in a fairly public area and the people are not your primary subject (such as photographing at a parade or just a candid “daily life” street photo) then most people won’t be bothered. However, if you happen to see someone wearing an outfit you like or doing something you think is interesting, it might annoy them to suddenly become the subject of your photo — especially if your photo is being taken with the intent to mock them over the Internet later (such as is done with the “People of WalMart” site).

2. Photographing kids at play can get you in trouble — If you’re passing through a park or an area frequented by children and stop to engage in photography, you may find yourself getting in hot water. So, be prepared to politely explain yourself to the parents and to show them the photos you’ve taken (and delete them, if requested). Exceptions are generally made to this rule for public events and places like monuments or streets where, again, the children aren’t the principle subject.

3. Photography isn’t a crime but… — While it is becoming more common for people to record arrests, accidents, and other activities where the police are involved, the police don’t always like it. It is perfectly legal to record them in public so long as you aren’t interfering with them doing their duties but they may still harass you and attempt to confiscate your equipment. So, if this happens, try to decide whether this is a battle you really want to fight.

4. Don’t be a gear snob — If you happen to see someone with a camera and you’re interested in discussing your mutual hobby, remember to be polite. Don’t diss their gear if it’s older or not the latest and greatest. Not everyone can afford the newest high-end DSLR or lenses.

5. Don’t be a jerk — If someone is showing you their photo collection that they’ve posted online, don’t immediately assume that they used Photoshop to make it look great. Editing is part of the photography process but even the most skillful use of Photoshop won’t replace sheer talent in composition.

6. Don’t block someone else’s shot — If you see someone recording or photographing something, don’t block them. And, while photobombing can be funny, try to exercise some common sense and don’t overdo it. One photobombed shot is enough. Ruining their entire gallery — especially for something like a wedding — is just mean.

7. Different photography fields are different; none is better than the other — Fine art photography has its place but being a fine art photographer or a post-modern or a hipster or whatever doesn’t make you better than another photographer who prefers different subjects.

8. Put the camera away sometimes — While it’s easy to always have a camera with you these days, pack it in sometimes. Yes, you can photograph every meal you eat, every street corner you walk past, every thing you see but that doesn’t mean you should. Put the camera away and enjoy where you are from time to time. Unless, of course, your job is to document everything for some kind of secret historical society. If that’s the case, then go right ahead. Just be prepared for the strange looks you’re going to get.

What are some other bad behaviors that novice or mobile photographers engage in that you’d like to see stopped? Let us know in the comments below!

– da Bird


Baby Photography

Baby Photography

Portrait photography of any kind requires a bit of patience and creativity. Not everyone is a model or a celebrity used to doing glamor shots and many of us (myself included) really don’t like having our photos taken. However, with teenagers and adults, the practice of portrait photography is a bit simpler since they can (and will) follow instructions fairly well (on average). However, for young children and babies, the photographer needs a little help in learning just who is really going to run the session.

The most obvious bits of advice from that article at Photography Talk are also the ones I’d like to expand on a bit. It can be a little difficult for adults to get down and act silly with kids that aren’t their own — especially in a more public setting — but it’s very important in helping a young child respond more positively to you. If you have a few toys they can play with — things like building blocks, LEGOs, dolls, puzzles, or other age-appropriate things — then let them play for a bit. That will let the child get used to being in this new place and will give him or her something to concentrate on instead of how nervous or anxious they are. Once the child has started to get comfortable, sit down near them and join in their play. Ask if you can help them build a tower or ask them what they’re building. Listen to them and respond appropriately. Once they’ve gotten used to you and are willing to talk to you without going through their parents (and resist the temptation to direct your comments to the parents or to let the parents answer in place of the child), then you can pull out the camera. Show it to the child and let them “play” with it a bit (don’t let them go hog wild but do let them push a few buttons and turn the knobs. If you can’t remember the settings you were going to use, then photographing kids may not be the biggest problem you have) and take a few of their own pictures.

Once they trust you and they understand what the camera is and why they need to look at it, the session will run much more smoothly. However, do understand that children do not have the stamina that adults possess so if they begin to get tired or bored, a meltdown may happen. Try to get the photos you need as quickly as you can so the child can go back to doing things that are important to him or her.

If you are photographing children too young to talk, then the more time spent playing with them and the more you let them poke and prod at your camera, the better things will go. Take a few “sample” photos with the baby watching you so that they can get used to hearing the shutter and any other noises the camera makes (such as the flash queuing up). The more accustomed to the camera they are, the less likely they are to become nervous.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another full week in the world of photography. This week has seen a lot of major shifts in the world, keeping photojournalists on their toes as they travel from Sochi with the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics to the Ukraine to cover the protests and the collapsing government there. Venezuela has also been wracked by protests and riots which are gaining international attention. Advice columnists have been offering tips, tricks, and techniques aimed at helping novice photographers improve and professional photographers advance. And, the big camera manufacturers have been talking about the future of their companies’ lines at CP+.

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 highlights for you below.


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

– da Bird