Design director Wayne Ford has written up a great piece on the career of American photographer Arnold Newman, who was in the vanguard of the “environmental portrait” movement that emerged in the early 1940s.
By this point, [Alexey] Brodovitch — the indirect teacher — was very aware of the young photographers work and his growing reputation, and began assigning him regular portrait commissions for Harper’s Bazaar. One of these assignments was to photograph the Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, which resulted in one of Newman’s most iconic images, although at the time it was rejected for publication. ‘Sometimes, as with his famous image of Stravinsky, he would have to recreate a natural habitat artificially,’ remarks Huxley-Parlour, ‘so he expressed his essence by placing him at a grand piano in an editor’s apartment,’ creating a strong, hard, linear composition, ‘very much like Stravinsky’s music.’
Arnold Newman and the development of the ‘environmental portrait’ (via A Photo Editor)
Image credit: Photograph by Arnold Newman
Harry McCracken over at Technologizer wrote a fascinating piece about Polaroid founder Edwin Land and the history of the SX-70 camera.
“Don’t undertake a project,” an oft-quoted Land maxim goes, “unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” The SX-70 was both.
Did you know that “SX-70″ was actually the codeword used by Land a quarter century before the SX-70 camera for his first instant film camera project? It was his 70th Special eXperiment (Land was a Harvard dropout and prolific inventor, inventing the first synthetic material capable of polarizing light when he was just 19-years-old!)
It’s a pretty lengthy piece, but a must-read for any Polaroid lover.
Polaroid’s SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible (via Daring Fireball)
Image credit: SX-70 Family by Brian Warren
Photographer Laurence Kim wrote an interesting article titled “The Photography Business and the American Dream” in which he takes a look at the economics of doing photography as a career, coming to the conclusion that it’s one of the worst things you can do from a wealth creation standpoint.
I actually can’t think of a worse business than photography. I honestly can’t. In fact, if I were teaching an entrepreneurship class at a business school this would make a great exercise: Have my class think of a business that builds zero equity, had zero scalability and zero barriers to entry. It would be interesting to see if my class could come up with professional wedding/portrait photography. Knowing what makes a bad business would be very helpful in designing a good business.
The bottom line is this: from a wealth-creation standpoint, photography is a lousy career. But you probably already know that.
On the flip side, if you’re toiling as a photographer, you’re likely driven by a love of photography, not a love for money. Kim has some helpful tips for how to do photography as a career while staying smart financially.
Image credit: Money by AMagill
Tilt-shift lenses are usually pretty pricey, so many people fake the effect during post-processing by selectively blurring sections of their photographs. There’s even simple web-apps that can add such blur to give your photographs a miniature scale model effect.
If faking the effect isn’t legit enough to satisfy your photo-geekiness — and you’d rather not drop big bucks on it either — there’s a nifty do-it-yourself solution you need to check out: Bhautik Joshi over at cow.mooh.org has a new DIY Tilt-Shift project that teaches you how to convert an old lens into various kinds of tilt-shift lenses.
The golden hour in photography is the first or last hour of sunlight in a day that photographers often aim to shoot in, since the sun’s position produces a soft and warm light with longer shadows. The Golden Hour Calculator is a useful website that can help you calculate the golden hour(s) for your location, telling you exactly when the sun rises and sets.
The Golden Hour Calculator (via Reddit)
Update: Darkness is an app for the iPhone that can help you calculate your golden hours on the go. (thx @noahaboussafy)
If you’re addicted to The Big Picture like we are, then you probably also wish they posted more than two or three times a week. You should also take a look at The Big Pictr, a neat website we just came across. Although it blatantly copies The Big Picture in its name and design, the idea behind the site is pretty interesting.
It’s basically a community generated photoblog with the large photograph style of The Big Picture. Anyone can start a new collection with a Flickr user, search term, or tags, and then share it privately or publish it to the front page. For example, here’s a collection we just created using photos from our Flickr account.
If this website takes off, it could be a great way to both browse interesting photographs and promote your own photography.
Cambridge in Colour is a great photography resource on the web for beginners and advanced photographers alike.
This site has a large number of visual and interactive digital photography tutorials that can help you fill in gaps in your knowledge of digital photography. Articles range from things as basic as “Understanding Depth of Field” to subjects as advanced as “Understanding Diffraction: Pixel Size, Aperture and Airy Disks“. If you’ve never visited this resource, it’s definitely worth a look.
Here’s a useful resource I found a while back that many of you might find helpful. SLRGear.com is a website that conducts comprehensive tests on camera lenses, and publishes them in the form of diagrams and illustrations.
One of the features my friends and I have found most useful is the blur index illustration that it provides. This interactive chart helps you find the “sweet spot” for your lens, showing you where the lens is sharpest as you choose a specific focal length and aperture.
From the screenshot above of the Canon 24-70mm blur index chart, you can see that there is a sizable “sweet spot” of sharpness in the center of the frame at 35mm f/2.8. As you move towards the outer edges of the frame, there is less sharpness and more blur. Most of the time you will find that lenses have the largest sweet spot at f/4.0 to f/5.6. If you increase the f-number beyond that, you start losing sharpness again.