Posts Published in January 2010

PetaPixel is Moving Down the Block

When we launched back in 2009, I decided to host PetaPixel on the same hosting plan as my personal website at 1&1. Their plans are cheap (~$7/month) and they offered enormous amounts of storage and unlimited bandwidth, so I decided to try hosting PP with them.

Things have gone pretty well over the past 9 months or so, especially since we were essentially hosting the blog for free. However, we’ve grown to a point where traffic is occasionally causing our site to go down, since 1&1 tries to keep server usage fair among its customers. We’ve learned that though they offered “unlimited” traffic hosting, it’s meant for small, personal websites that don’t hog the server’s resources.

We went down again for a short period of time today, signaling to me that we should probably begin moving to something that will support us better as we continue to grow. This weekend I’m planning on moving the site over to Rackspace Cloud, and the transition has already begun. If everything goes according to plan, by the time we resume posting next Monday we’ll be serving PetaPixel from our new home.

We’ll update this post when we’re at the new location and settled down. Have a great weekend, and see you on the flip side!

Update: If you can see this update then you’re visiting us at our new home. Welcome!

Do People Recognize Great Photography?

In 2007, Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten conducted a social experiment in which he recruited one of the world’s great violinists, Joshua Bell, to play in a Washington D.C. subway station. Just two days prior to the experiment, Bell had played in a sold-out Boston theater in which ordinary tickets sold for $100 apiece. The entire experiment was filmed using a hidden camera:

In the end, of the 1,097 people who passed by Joshua Bell, only seven stopped to listen to the music. His 45-minute performance of six famous (though not necessarily recognizable) classical pieces earned $32.17 from 27 passersby, with some dropping pennies. As a result of his experiment and subsequent article for the Post, Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.

I recently thought about this experiment, and whether the general public is just as blind to greatness in photography as it is in music. Our our fast paced lifestyles and millisecond attention spans, many recent trends in photography seem to be pushing towards delivering eye-candy and a quick “wow” factor rather than substantive work that will stand the test of time.

For example, consider the following photographs:

On the left is a HDR photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge that was a hit on Flickr, attracting 344,783 views, 1,097 favorites, and 248 comments. On the right is “Los Angeles, California”, taken in 1969 by Garry Winogrand. The image on the left may attract eyes due to its surreal nature, dark clouds, and over-saturated colors, but I would question whether it has any ability to “stand the test of time” and become significant as a photograph. Some might call it “eye-candy” (not to bash on HDR, since I do believe HDR has its place and can be done beautifully).

On the other hand, the photograph by Winogrand may not attract eyes as easily (and some may even ignore it due to it being black and white), but it provides a beautiful glimpse into a period of our history that is delicately mindful of framing, lighting, and timing.

Thus, I feel as though credit for “greatness” is often bestowed upon modern-day photographers whose work may soon lose its appeal and become utterly insignificant, while those who are producing great work may fly under the radar and never be noticed by the general public.

What are your thoughts? Are there any modern day photographers who are under-appreciated now, but have the potential of becoming the next Ansel Adams or Dorothea Lange?

Image credit: Golden Gate HDR by vgm8383

Olympus Micro Four Thirds Camera Leaked

Last week Olympus began running a teaser for what appears to be a new camera that will shortly be announced. The teaser featured a mysterious image of a camera hidden behind a hand, and a form for collecting emails to be contacted immediately at launch.

From what can be seen of the camera in the teaser, it’s pretty clear the new camera will be part of the new Micro Four Thirds system of cameras, which features DSLR-quality imaging in more compact bodies due to the omission of a mirror and optical viewfinder system.

A few hours ago 43rumors reported that a leaked image (shown at the top of this post) of the new Olympus camera had appeared on an Asian forum. Though the image was removed within minutes, a reader had already saved the photo and emailed it into 43rumors.

Comparing the leaked image and the teaser, it appears the cameras are the same. The leaked image shows a 14-42mm lens, while the lens appears to be different in the teaser (43rumors states it’s a 17mm). We’ll probably learn more about this camera at PMA 2010 next month.

(via engadget)

Stop-Motion Music Video Nominated for Grammy, Prints for Sale

Israeli singer-songwriter Oren Lavie teamed up with photographer Eyal Landesman to create an imaginative music video for “Her Morning Elegance”, which was recently nominated for the Best Short Form Music Video Grammy award.

The video is comprised of a striking 2,096 still images strung fluidly together, according to the Her Morning Elegance Gallery website.

Photographer Landesman spent time as a photojournalist, but found his passion as a dance photographer. Landesman said in an interview with Jerusalem Post:

“I had done some work in stop motion for a project in the Acre Festival a few years ago, but I didn’t really know the term for it,” said Landesman. “When I sat with Oren, Yuval and Merav, and we worked out the storyboard and the whole concept, I began to understand – I never knew it had a title.

“As a photographer, I try to capture the moment. But what happens when the moment is 100 images per second? I had to rethink a lot of what I knew and work with a timeline, and think about what was before and what’s going to come after, and after that, for 2,000 photos. It was a totally different way of thinking.”

Landesman and company have dreamed up an interesting way to monetize and distribute his project: by deconstructing and selling each individual still image as 2,096 separate pieces of art.

Starting today, individual images can be purchased for $250 from the Her Morning Elegance Gallery site, and can be viewed in person at the physical art gallery, Space F2/Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California.

Obama “Hope” Artist Faces Criminal Investigation Over Use of Photo

A judge announced this past Tuesday that artist Shepard Fairey is under criminal investigation for the improper use of Obama’s photograph in his iconic “Hope” poster. Fairey has spent months locked in a legal battle with the AP and photographer Mannie Garcia, who captured the original photograph. The AP demanded credit and compensation for the photograph, while Fairey believes his poster fits the definition of fair use.

The legal battle is actually a pretty complicated story. Fairey fired the opening shot by filing a lawsuit against the AP last February, asking for a ruling that his use of the photograph did not violate copyrights. Within a month the AP filed a suit of its own, claiming a violation of copyright.

The original photographer, Mannie Garcia, believes the copyright to the photograph is his own and not the APs, and was actually quoted saying,

If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had.

However, in July 2009, Garcia joined in the legal battle, siding with the AP in claiming copyright infringement, while accusing the AP of wrongfully claiming copyright to the photograph he shot.

Fairey’s downfall came in October 2009, when he admitted that he had destroyed and falsified evidence in the case, writing on his website,

In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions which were mine alone,

As a result of this revelation, his lawyers announced that they would no longer represent him in this case, and Tuesday’s announcement is simply the latest installment of this long, complicated, and ugly case.

The moral of the story? Get permission folks!

Trailer for the 5D Mark II Short Film “Betrayed”

Above is a trailer for Betrayed, a new short film shot entirely with the Canon 5D Mark II. It’s co-written and directed by Joshua Grossberg, and the cinematography was done by NYC-based photographer Robert Caplin.

The introduction of video capabilities in DSLRs has caused a boom in high definition short films on the Internet, but this one actually features a cast you might recognize: Seth Gilliam (The Wire), PJ Sosko, and Cara Buono (The Sopranos). Betrayed is currently being submitted to film festivals around the world with the goal of raising the funding needed to shoot a feature length version of this film. Caplin tells us,

Never before have we had the power to individually produce video with this level of quality at such a low cost. Recent technology has shattered walls for photographers and changed the way we do our jobs and explore our creativity. Last year I was merely a still photographer…and now I have a world of potential at my fingertips with the advancement of Digital SLR video.

SpiderPic Offers Comparison Shopping for Stock Photos

Launched less than a week ago, SpiderPic is a new image search engine for those looking to purchase stock photography. The same stock image is often available through multiple agencies and varying prices, and SpiderPic allows you to compare these prices to choose the cheapest deal.

While this is a win for stock photography buyers, the service will likely mean lower revenue for agencies and photographers, both of which may price stock images differently based on a number of factors to maximize their income. If SpiderPic takes off, photographers will be forced to set identical prices for their images if listed at multiple agencies, and agencies will need to keep their prices competitive.

iPad Offers Little for Photographers

Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad today, igniting tech news with excitement, skepticism, and prolific ragging on its name.

Apple’s iPad marketing team insists that the iPad is a groundbreaking piece of technology, fusing laptop, smartphone, and e-reader capabilities.

It certainly appears to be innovative technology fit for the future. Brent Spiner, famous for his role as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, tweeted that the iPad looks like something from the Enterprise. Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch mused about all the possibilities the iPad opens for book publishers, interactive media, and most importantly, developers who can harness the power of the iPad app. Though old media (namely print) might continue to fall away, but if publications can tap into “hybridized content” – text, photos, video, interactive stories – they might even convince readers that their content is worth paying for.

However, before that conversation can even begin, is the iPad itself worth its weight in bills? TechCrunch also reports that the iPad appears to not run Flash and will only be offered through the 3G network of AT&T. Gizmodo has a running list of gripes against the iPad’s failings, including the fact that it does not have a built-in camera.

For photographers, the iPad might be a promising tool, but currently offers very little. Though Apple claims the iPad is “the best way to view and share your photos,” it appears to be a glorified interactive digital picture frame, or at best, a redesigned touch version of Apple’s Quick Look. All starting at $499.

The Apple website hails the iPad as being “the best way to experience the web, email, photos and video. Hands down,” but reveals that the only way to get photos onto the iPad is by syncing with a computer, downloading from email, or purchase the Apple Camera Connection Kit separately. Extra cost just to take advantage of the advertised feature? Sounds like a deal breaker.

Articulating Screens on New Canon DSLRs

Canon doesn’t seem to want Nikon to have all the fun with articulating LCD screens. After Nikon included such a screen on D5000 back in April of 2009, Canon seems to be ready to embrace the feature in its own DSLRs.

According to a member of Israeli forum, Canon’s next prosumer and entry level DSLRs, the 60D and 550D/600D, will both have articulating screens and begin shipping in May. If you’re not sure what an articulating screen is, here’s what it looks like on the Nikon D5000:

Here’s a full list of specs that were posted:

60D Specs
– Articulating screen
– Metal body, similar To 50D
– Upgraded 15.1mp APS-C Sensor
– 720p/1080p Video at 30fps
– Electronic Level
– New battery & battery grip
– Price about $1190

550D/600D Specs
– Articulating screen
– Body smaller than 500D
– Upgraded 15.1mp APS-C Sensor
– 720p Video at 30fps
– Price about $799

Do the specs seem realistic? What are your thoughts on the possibility of articulating screens being introduced into the Canon line?

(via Canon Rumors)

World’s Oldest Camera Up for Auction

In 1836 Louis Jacques Daguerre, a French artist and chemist, invented the first practical camera, the daguerreotype. Shortly thereafter, Daguerre’s brother-in-law Alphonse Giroux began to produce the cameras that Daguerre invented, and one such camera has now surfaced and will be auctioned.

The camera was made in Paris in September 1839, and is being called the world’s oldest camera. The 170 year old antique will having a starting price of €200,000 ($281,440) when it is auctioned at the end of May, but is expected to fetch at least €500,000.

(via SlashGear)

Thanks Mike for sending in this tip!