Black-and-White and all the colors


adamtetzloff.com

Photographer Alex Harsley and his 4th Street Photo Gallery, in New York’s East Village, are having their long-overdue moment – one for which Harsley has prepared for decades. Curators and collectors are stopping by; so are TV channels and podcast producers.

” For years, Harsley, 81, sat in the sunbathed storefront of his word-of-mouth wunderkammer. Now you can find him in the back, still nudging the photo and art worlds forward, just as he has done for the past 47 years since he founded the nonprofit gallery that he has single-handedly sustained…

” Draped among the photographer’s prints today are his bellows, analog and digital cameras, each representing an era of photo technology, along with a wooden camera reflecting Harsley’s sense of humour. There are canisters of 777 developer, GE flashcubes and bins of prints to leaf through and purchase. The darkroom now accommodates digital printers…

” His observational, often narrative images straddle without contradiction fine-art and street photography. They capture the lyricism and humanity of urban life, and black urban life in particular – visual love poems in which the threshold between photographer and subject seems to dissolve. He is a master printer. He is also a noted experimental video and multimedia maker who shot the seminal video “Phat Free” for artist David Hammons, capturing him kicking a metal bucket down East Village streets. (The video was the highlight of the 1997 Whitney Biennial.) If Harsley’s photos mirror his heart, his complex videos mirror his “elastic” mind.

I know I was there at least once in the 1970’s. Didn’t meet Alex Harsley…as well as I remember. I remember loving his photos – especially scenes in the city [yes, the Mingus set, as well]. Never lived in New York. Never wanted to. Still, I spent a fair piece of erratic time there from the middle 1950’s on.

I remember his photo of Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore because that was someplace I visited probably every 3rd or 4th trip to The City. A street corner right by that shop was where I first heard Malcolm X all natty dread on a step ladder telling a lot of truth to folks. Standing there with my friend, Daniel, he picked us out, black-and-white, signifying nothing special but what still could be. Even then.

RTFA, Truly enjoyment knowing something that touched me briefly in passing so long ago – stayed around and grew like a tree standing by the water.

Photography and our Civil War


Click to enlargeGettysburg

❝ While photographs of earlier conflicts do exist, the American Civil War is considered the first major conflict to be extensively photographed. Not only did intrepid photographers venture onto the fields of battle, but those very images were then widely displayed and sold in ever larger quantities nationwide.

Photographers such as Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan found enthusiastic audiences for their images as America’s interests were piqued by the shockingly realistic medium. For the first time in history, citizens on the home front could view the actual carnage of far away battlefields. Civil War photographs stripped away much of the Victorian-era romance around warfare.

❝ Photography during the Civil War, especially for those who ventured out to the battlefields with their cameras, was a difficult and time consuming process. Photographers had to carry all of their heavy equipment, including their darkroom, by wagon. They also had to be prepared to process cumbersome light-sensitive images in cramped wagons.

Today pictures are taken and stored digitally, but in 1861, the newest technology was wet-plate photography, a process in which an image is captured on chemically coated pieces of plate glass. This was a complicated process done exclusively by photographic professionals…

❝ While photography of the 1860’s would seem primitive by the technological standards of today, many of the famous Civil War photographers of the day were producing sophisticated three-dimensional images or “stereo views.” These stereo view images proved to be extremely popular among Americans and a highly effective medium for displaying life-like images…

With these advancements in photographic technology, the Civil War became a true watershed moment in the history of photography. The iconic photos of the American Civil War would not only directly affect how the war was viewed from the home front, but it would also inspire future combat photographers who would take their cameras to the trenches of Flanders, the black sands of Iwo Jima, the steaming jungles of Vietnam, and the deserts of Afghanistan.

RTFA for techniques and technology. Photography brought a new dimension to recording history. hopefully, it continues to bring new dimensions into understanding politics and war.

Pic of the day – Finding my lens, Om Malik


Click to enlargeOm Malik

My recent visit to Faroe Islands turned out to be life changing in more ways than I had thought. The first break through came on the second night of the trip and it has allowed me to focus on what matters, and why some tools work for some people and some don’t. It has had a remarkable impact on how I make photos. Here is how it happened.

After a long day two, I came back to the hotel and downloaded my photos to the laptop, only to find many of them were unsatisfactory. I had been using the (24mm – equivalent on full frame) 16mm f/1.4 Fuji wide angle lens. Many of the vistas that looked great when standing at the top of the hill, felt so much less inspiring when viewed on the desktop screen. They looked flat and lacked the three dimensional feeling I aspire to in my photos and other creative efforts. I felt discouraged, because of what seemed like white noise. The puffin photos weren’t good either and despite walking to the very edge of the cliff and lying in cold and wet grass for a while to capture the moment. (A handful made the final cut, but frankly I could and should have done better.)

Later in the evening, Dan Rubin, who is one of the instructors at the f8workshops, and I ended up talking about the day’s work and my frustration with the pictures. Dan suggested that perhaps what I like is to shoot is tighter and highly isolated views. He pointed out that I feel so happy with photos I make with my 50mm focal length lens. His suggestion: switch to the f2/50mm full time and use it not only as my general purpose lens but also for travel and landscape photography.

Forget about the wider views and instead focus on composition and strive to find ways to make photos that give the feeling of wide sweeping vistas and vastness, but leave that to a viewer’s imagination. You don’t have to put it all there in order to engage the viewer. And just like that, it all clicked in place.

RTFA to continue this voyage of discovery – or even better, wander over to Om’s site and wander back in time through photos and feelings about his trip to the Faroes.

NASA website hosts regularly updated Earth imagery


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NASA has launched a new website allowing the public to view images snapped by its Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. The service will provide multiple shots of stunning Earth imagery seven days a week, mere hours after capture.

DSCOVR is operated through a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Air Force, with a mission to monitor space weather emanating from the Sun, and serve as a form of early warning system for potentially harmful events…

Images featured on the website are captured roughly 12 – 36 hours prior to release, and feature a simple graphic to the top left of the page informing users of the relative positions and distances of the DSCOVR satellite and our Sun. The page also displays a globe highlighting the landmasses that are in view.

Archived images will be accessible by searching for the subject’s capture date and the continents displayed in the image.

Sometimes the Web really brings you close to the beauty of science.

Apple personalizes photography — iPhone users win Cannes Gold Lions

Ahmed fiesta pic
Ahmed’s pic from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has shown up around the world

Apple’s World Gallery, part of the “Shot on iPhone 6” media blitz, was honored at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity with five Gold Lions and a Grand Prix award in the outdoor category.

…Jury president Juan Carlos Ortiz, creative chairman ad agency DDB Americas, heaped praise on the idea of sourcing media from the public sphere. The strategy flies in the face of traditional media strategies which rely on art contracted from professional photographers.

“It’s not just a great idea, it’s a game changer,” Ortiz said. “It’s really opening a new way of doing things and changing behavior.”

World Gallery first showed up online in March as a collection of images taken by iPhone 6 users. While some images were captured by professionals in the photography field, many were shot by pro-am or amateur users. Earlier this month, Apple added a video section to the minisite, again featuring footage borrowed from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners.

I started noticing the video adverts showing up on TV in the last couple of weeks. Not only impressive work in most instances, I’m especially happy to see mostly amateurs receiving recognition.

There was a time, decades ago, that Kodak brought similar capabilities to hobbyist photographers. I’m delighted to see it happening again.

In a cameras-everywhere culture, everyone can watch everyone else

Science fiction writer David Brin calls it “a tsunami of lights” — a future where tiny cameras are everywhere, lighting up everything we do, and even predicting what we’ll do next.

Unlike George Orwell’s novel “1984,” where only Big Brother controlled the cameras, in 2015, cheap, mobile technology has turned everyone into a watcher.

With each technological advance, more of our lives — from the humdrum to the hyper-dramatic — is being caught on camera.

That includes the police, whose actions can be recorded by anyone with a camera phone. In South Carolina, a cellphone video released last week showed a police officer firing eight shots at a fleeing man’s back. In San Bernardino County, news choppers captured footage of deputies punching and kicking a man as he lay face-down on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Painting a picture that cameras are everywhere and anywhere is pretty provocative,” said Ryan Martin, a technology analyst at 451 Research, but it can also present opportunities to increase accountability and improve safety.

There are 245 million surveillance cameras installed worldwide, according to research firm IHS, and the number increases by 15% a year…

ParaShoot is selling a $199 HD camera that’s light enough to wear on a necklace or stick to a wall or car dashboard. “Never miss the meaningful moments again,” the company touts.

Another company, Bounce Imaging, is manufacturing a throwable camera shaped like a ball, with police departments as the target customer. The omni-directional cameras can literally take pictures on the fly and instantly transmit pictures to a smartphone.

It’s not just governments that are collecting rich stores of data. Facebook uses face-recognition technology to identify users’ friends in photos.

We expect the government, city, state or feds, to keep an eye on us. In public places, I think it can serve up as much good as opportunist evil. They didn’t expect us to start watching them on our own.

“Evolutionarily, we’re primed for it,” said Kevin Kelly, author of the book “What Technology Wants.” “For most of human history, we’ve been covering each other. It’s only in recent history we’ve developed a heightened sense of privacy.”

But, he adds, social norms guided behavior in the less-private past. Norms for the cameras-everywhere era haven’t been developed — nor are there well-thought-out legal structures that would keep inevitable abuse in check.

Meanwhile, while courts continue to uphold the rights of ordinary citizens to record police and politicians, the states run by the most repressive politicians fight back – passing new laws every year making it illegal to photograph or record the actions of officialdom even in public. Every one of those has to be challenged.

From Texas to Kansas, Arizona to Minnesota, conservative political hacks are scared crapless that someone will catch them being stupid – or criminal – and post it online. And if they’re scared, I’m impressed.

30 years of Reuters Pictures: Part three

Wander through this article and enjoy stunning photography, meaningful in so many ways. Personal, political, history recorded – sometimes just before it is forgotten. Check out the two preceding parts, explore the Reuters’ slideshows.

Here are a couple of samples:


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The Northern Lights are seen above the ash plume of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano…Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson.
 


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Staff members stand in a meeting room at Lehman Brothers offices in London. It is the beginning of the global financial crisis…Reuters photographer Kevin Coombs.