Keep Moving Forward… 08.09.10

Musings

Facebook’s Guantanamo Bay

I do not choose this title lightly, for there are parallels in the real world that this situation mimics. The situation? Facebook’s Profile Review Process that requires Photo ID to Prove one’s Identity and thus right to use a designated Profile.

Schematic:

  1. One day you wake up, attempt to use Facebook in the normal way
  2. Next, you are confronted with a Log-in Request
  3. Then you are confronted with a “Stand and Deliver!” Demand to provide your ID

WTF!?! You are locked out, your Profile is no longer visible and you are confronted with the very real face of a “Toll Troll.”

  1. Now, you cannot log-in UNLESS you provide REAL photo identification
  2. If you do, it must be verified by some faceless, unidentified dweeb – probably the same dickhead that blocked your Profile in the first place.
  3. Once you’re logged-in then and only then can you use the communication system

That’s right, there is No Avenue for Communication with Facebook unless you capitulate, to their ID Harvesting Blackmail. Hence, for the last 16 days I’ve been running a Twitter Campaign (@TscTempest) with the hashtag #ReleaseMyProfile.

So why Guantanamo Bay? Well, without notice, or warning, or justification my Facebook Profile is no longer active, it has been incarcerated. I have no mechanism for communication with Facebook to discuss the issue, and I have been excluded from all online interaction, except for receiving group message updates.

Did you get that? Facebook sends me regular group page updates and no other communication. My Profile is in Facebook Prison, without charge, subjected to torture – fully constrained but still able to hear what is going on, actively encouraged to hear what is going on. And while thus constrained this faceless policy of Facebook demands at every interaction or repeated attempt to Log-In my personal and private data. This is Facebook’s version of Interrogation.

Facebook does not require Proof of Identity to create a Facebook Profile, yet under the terms of this Inquisition, Proof of Identity must be provided in order to safeguard the Facebook Community – from what? Me? A long time advocate of civility online, a proponent of being Firm, Friendly, Fair & Frank in the exchanging of online opinions?

The problem with this current Facebook Policy is that it penalises the target/victim of this policy. One is Guilty until proven Innocent, and even then, one’s profile is never the same again, nor is it immune to further targeting under the same policy. In other words, once a victim of this policy, one is forever guilty in the Facebook Universe: there is no proof of Innocence only the chance to recant before being put to Social Media Death – This is Facebook’s #IDHarvesting #Inquisition.

What I’ve come to realise in the last sixteen days, is that it is not just the disengagement from an online community that is lost, it is all the connections with friends and family that have been cultivated through the use of the Facebook Platform, many where there is no other form of communication or contact, not all of my Facebook Friends are on my Computer’s Contact List, in my Email Safe List, attached to Skype, LinkedIn, Xing, ICQ, or a Phone Contact. Thus I have been torn away from a community I have slowly, carefully, and decidedly built up.

Now, some might say, “just provide the documentation,” and in some way, this would alleviate the issue: pay the demanded bribe, give in to this blackmail, accept this act of corruption, capitulate, recant! And this is all part of the torture, and torment, that is Facebook’s Policy of unwarranted and unjustified Inquisition against Facebook Profiles by demanding Proof of Identity.

I am not a witch. I am not a terrorist, I am not a stalker. I am not preying on the unwary. I am not pretending to be someone. I am fully unmasked and declared, “As My Self,” on Facebook and I Will Not Surrender to this unfair, extortion of my identity documentation while others can go freely about their way, as terrorists, as predators, as stalkers, as trolls, as fake names with impunity!

If there is to be One Rule in the name of protecting the Facebook Community, then let it be the same one rule for all users of Facebook, or do away with the rule and #RestoreMyProfile!

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.


Social Media Assassination

…or, Death in the Social Media Matrix

In recent days I’ve been on the receiving end of a troubling and growing phenomenon. The assassination of a Facebook Profile. 2-3 days ago I had posted to a group page on Facebook about Reiki Energy and my view about where it comes from, personal belief/faith kind of stuff. The post itself was an invitation to read my thoughts about Reiki Energy, not about my faith, on my blog (direct link to article in question), within 24 hrs, my Facebook Profile had been reset with Login Access only granted if I provide full and verifiable photo identification, or sufficient other documents to Prove My Identity.

Normally, when one is prompted such a situation would be considered as a Phishing Scam.

The troubling aspect is that I do not know the reason why my Facebook Profile was summarily executed, my last posting was to my Timeline and was about my recent online publishing of some of my old Poetry. I have not and still have not received any indication as to why my Facebook Profile was Terminated – I guess that is the nature of Assassination, the Victim has no idea and doesn’t see it coming. Was it because of my Poetry? Was it because of my Personal Belief System?? Was it because of my name???

Facebook is a platform that allows the building of virtual Communities, It has rules of engagement like any forum or facility however Facebook is not a Sovereign Nation, it is not a Gated City. Like the European Union, it has an open door policy that allows anyone and everyone to enter, with no focus on valid names or what it thinks is a valid name, no Proof of Identity, nothing more is required than a working email address to enable confirmation that it has a way to funnel its newsfeed/notifications into you. Like the Matrix its a way to plug you in and keep you plugged in.

Now it is we who build our networks and communities, not Facebook. We like virtual Eloi grow, develop, and mature in our communities. But within any community is is not uncommon to interact with other communities, to occasionally rub someone up the wrong way. Normally this results in an exchange of opinions or even heated words. At best, the regular crossing of verbal swords at worst, disengagement and the choice to ignore. Social Media Murder? Rarely, if ever. Rules when broken usually have a precursor, which leads to warnings and then eviction from an offended group.

Flagging a Profile causing its termination is more akin to a drive-by shooting, it is a Social Media Crime that is enables and supported by Facebook’s Proof of Identity Policy. It is akin to a virtual Inquisition where a Profile can be accused and seized, without warning, without notice, without investigation, and held ransom until the creator of the Profile gives in to the torture, selective isolation, and demands for Proof of Identity. Selective Isolation? Yes, because while your profile is being held in Facebook’s virtual Guantanamo Bay, its Intensive Care Unit for victims of Social Media Assassination, its back door guarded by trollish, thuggish policies that require, Pay to Play capitulation by providing Proof of Identity to be stored on a Secured Server.

In this day and age, it is no longer enough to just have a website and rely on passing the address around in order to develop a sense of virtual community. While it is essential to have a blog, it is imperative to have a Social Media Presence. Flickr, Youtube, Vimeo etc. are our online portfolios, Twitter our broadcast medium, ICQ, Messenger and Skype our contact systems, Linkedin and Xing our Resumes and Professional networks, but Facebook is the platform where we build communities, we link our families and friends and interests, our social and our professional lives together in this one space and these spaces form interlinkages with other virtual communities.

We invest deeply of our energy, spirit, opinions and friendships, squabbles and disagreements, share information and resources like any real world community. The seizure of a Profile then is a very significant and high value issue, it is virtual incarceration, or worse, banishment, exclusion, execution. Demanding Proof of Identity documents in this way is blackmail, it is enticed corruption and bribery, and in real life in many jurisdictions might be considered corporate crime.

This is forceful Identity Harvesting, is also known as Phishing and like Phishing, those of us who’s Profiles have been suspended, are being tortured through isolation from our communities; tormented by Facebook email notifications of conversations in various groups we belong to, tormented by being able to view the conversation but unable to participate in it; and blackmailed into handing over any and all Proof of Identity that this faceless policy demands in order to regain access to our Profiles.

Worse some have reported that on regaining access they have to Change their Name because their original name is no longer acceptable in the Facebook’s Social Media Utopia. they have effectively been isolated, penalised, blackmailed, and re-branded because  some anonymous individual caused some nameless, supposedly intelligent entity with apparently two opposable thumbs to decide between the Red Button and the Blue Button, one that releases the Profile from incarceration, the other flushing the Profile out of their plugged in Facebook incubator, out a door and across a bridge guarded by a unreasonable Policy that’s been allowed to commit virtual Highway Robbery.

It is necessary to policies that protect online communities, but these policies need to be written with one eye on those they are meant to protect and another on those who become the target of those policies. Virtual Laws need Virtual Police to enforce them, but they also need proper guidelines and mechanisms for the appropriate implementation of  those policies. Policies that rely on accusation without proof, judgement without investigation, execution without warning, and resurrection through blackmail, are not Policies that protect, they are Policies that punish victims of false renunciation. Even the Judges of Megacity One, Officer, Judge, Jury, and Executioner all in one had a highly refined Rulebook that they needed to know off by heart in order to carry out their work. the virtual Megacity Facebook One need to overhaul is Rulebook, review its Open-door join-in Policy In Concert With it Identity Harvesting Phishing Scam.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.


Thoughts of the Day…

“…anyone growing a business (even a freelance photographer), needs to build equity along with revenue. For photographers, the rights to their photographs are their main source of equity.”  Hmmm…

http://aphotoeditor.com/category/pricing-negotiating/

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.


Do I need, in my kit, a Nifty Fifty?

I never understood the hype around the “Nifty Fifty.” On a full frame (35mm) camera it used to be one of the ‘must have’ prime lenses in your kit. This was back in the day when Zoom Lenses just could not match the image quality of a Prime.

Other ‘must have,’ Prime lenses were 28mm wide angle, 85mm or 135mm medium telephoto, and 200mm or 300mm telephoto. Either end of this spectrum were considered specialized use lenses.

Be that as it may, the 50mm Lens was the all rounder, for street, portrait and social/family shooting, shooting still lifes, etc. Its angle of view is ingrained in our photographic psyche.

However, in this day and age, for the vast majority of shooters (non-professional) the image quality of Zoom lenses is very good. Its when you start getting into situations where you need fast glass for low light applications, or exceptional image quality that the argument for Prime Lenses still renders valid.

To add to this debate, not all comparisons are equal when you change to a different film format. As such “every photographer” doesn’t need a 50mm lens in their kit because it depends on what format the shoot with. Here are the equivalent lenses giving approx. the same field of view based on film-format/sensor-size:.
Medium-format? 85mm;
35mm-format? 50mm;
APS-C format? 35mm.

So when we rave about the “Nifty Fifty,” its bang for its buck and why every photographer needs on in their kit, I have to ask, “Why?”

In portraiture, the 50mm lens has long been abandoned as a recommended goto lens, heck even the 85mm lens has been pushed aside somewhat, due to the compression that longer lenses offer. In this day and age, a 50mm lens is too wide and unflattering to the Sitter. Even though the depth of field and bokeh might be stellar. Even in Photography, there are fashion trends and fads.

As an APS-C format shooter, a 50mm fast prime lens gives me the equivalent of an 85mm lens. I already have a fast, 35mm Prime (Canon) [btw if you haven’t yet got one in your kit, get this] which is the 35mm-format equivalent of a 50mm lens. So, why would I need a fast 85mm prime lens in my kit? What would I use it for? For candid street portraits I prefer a long-ish telephoto.

For studio work with product and still life, fast is not necessary, nor in many cases is shallow depth of field. In the past it only came in handy, for me, with a small portrait studio, and hinged on how far you could move your subject away from the background and still backup to be able to provide a flattering focus on my sitter.

To me, using a fixed prime in a photo studio was a bit like doing math. Length vs width of studio stage, distance from background to subject, distance of subject to camera, working space behind camera, light intensity on subject, on background, blowback etc. Once you have that all dialed in, a few pieces of labeled tape on the floor and a static camera with fixed prime lens and dedicated studio stand can be moved in and out as need be, but: what a waste, locking up money in essentially a single use system. I don’t know anyone who shoots that way anymore.

The small home-base portrait studio, with equipment setup in place in a dedicated room with nothing to move is a lifestyle statement, I know, I used to have my own in a 5x7m ground floor room in Hanoi, but the demands of responding to change on a daily basis for flexibility and versatility means that the, “look at all my fancy gear” in-home studio statement, is nothing more than a self-flagellating, experiment in social preening.

Given the opportunity, would I still set up such a studio? Sure! As a personal, Photography equipment collection and Museum, functional and working, but quaint and wastefully irrelevant, except to possibly a few fellow enthusiasts. Or a minimalist, with lots of storage and a clean, versatile studio stage that can be rapidly tasked to different uses and looks. I can’t can’t decide, not right now anyway.

So, do I need, in my kit, a Nifty Fifty lens? Perhaps we should be saying, “every photographer ought to have a format equivalent 50mm lens in their kit,” but I don’t that such argument is valid any more.

Versatility, flexibility, and rapid responsiveness is the order of, this day and age, which means high quality, well made, zoom lenses are in. Primes still have their place, but they are not a must have item in every photographers kit?

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.


What Have I Been Missing?

I’ve been in a malaise for quite some time. Despondent and diffident towards photography, particularly my photography. I’d lost all inspiration and desire to create images. It was like there was no outlet or outcome to producing the images, and slowly the desire to even pick out the camera died not like a deciduous tree over winter, but like a great gum tree that’s been desiccated from the inside buy a rising salt water table.

Recently I discovered some videos detailing how to make contact prints on wood, using Photo Transfer Media and Laser printed images. So, I thought I’d try out the process in conjunction with another project, namely a retrospective look at 20C Photography through the guise of my own work. What’s clear from this print process, is that I’ve been missing the print making side of photography for a long, long time.

Its just too easy to just print a photo from a printer or send the image files to a print store. But the actual process of selecting the paper (substrate) exposing an image onto it (coating and contact printing), then developing (removing the paper backing) to produce a final print. To then look critically at this and make judgement calls on what needs to be changed in order to make the image better (optimize it), before saying this image is ready for sharing, display or publication/competition.

This hands on process of making and developing prints is where the art and technique of photography become a physical self-standing object. This physical image is the photographer’s trophy piece, the “baby” of their creative endeavour. Its clear to me now, that for far too long I have been creatively sterile. That this is what I’ve been missing, the deliberate, considered, creation of a physical image with characteristics carefully chosen and melded into an image by me with my own two hands.

While I love digital images and looking at them on computer and printing them, they don’t come anywhere near close to the feeling and joy I get by following through on the physical process of getting my hands and clothes, dirty, wet and holding a finished image. Not by a country mile!

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.


20th Century Photography

Recently, I forced myself to look at a book. Some encyclopedia of 20th Century Photography, or something like that and I got to thinking as I looked at the sample images, “Hey, I’ve got something like that in my archive of shots…”

So, then the idea pops into my head, why not review all my past work and pull out some images that, I think, have similar themes to compare and/or contrast against the sample pics from this encyclopedia?

That is, use the sample pictures to inspire me to revisit my own past work (not previously, consciously, influenced or inspired by these sample images) and either print them up at a similar size or re-work them a little to give them a new shine, and where I have no similar images, use any sample image that inspires me creatively to produce some new work as a direct result of that inspiration.
I’ve already started making a list, of 15 images, I readily have 8 images that come directly to mind, another five that need to be searched for and found, and 2 images that are something I’d like to shoot. Still more to do, but I’ve at least made a start.

Now, two sides of an A4 page down, and only halfway through the encyclopedia, this is going to take some time. Think I’ll take a rest and start compiling actual images. For the record I shot one photo several days ago when I first started thinking about this project, and today I shot two more. Need to do some editing and such.

But!

I also finally made two perspex/plastic table bases for jewelry, one black and one white – would you believe they only cost 6,00€ in total and I bent the legs in about a minute with a hot air gun , workmate and stainless steel rolling pin?

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.


A tolerance for Artistic Critique

It seems we have lost the knowledge, understanding and tolerance for Artistic Critique.

I’ve been a poet, publicly, an artist photographer, a commercial photographer a brewer of beer and maker of things. And never have I sought nothing more than, “Oooo, that’s nice,” as a critique.
Yet it seems these days, with the internet and forums, etc. that anything more than, “Oooo, thats nice,” is now, becoming more and more, synonymous with troll-like behavior.

Let’s get this straight, a Troll attacks the individual, is insensitive to the feelings and inconsiderate of the thoughts of the person they are attacking, often using a request for critique as a pretext to attack.
Artistic Critique, providing criticism as a feedback mechanism involves addressing specific issues related directly to the artwork offered up for critique. It is carefully worded, and purposefully directed, to things that could be done differently, improved, or otherwise considered in the creation of the work under consideration.

This distinction is what lies at the heart of artistic critique and is the polar opposite of what is troll-like behaviour. However, when given in response to a request, it still requires the asker to grow, at least, a little bit of skin, rather than expect people to get down on their knees to lick and stroke the asker’s ego.

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.


25 Years…

Recently, I was backing up my hard disk, upgrading from 500 Gb to 1 Tb, and was marveling at the 34,000+ photos (which is not that much, and not so many are that good either, really) I had on there.
Yet, it just hit me this morning, that it represents 12 years of continuous digital imaging, and many more years before with film.

This got me to thinking about when I first started using digital images, and the answer to this was in 1988, when I became Editor of The Oxalian, a student newspaper for GIAE (the institute was absorbed later, to became Monash Gippsland.) I took the newspaper from manual based cut and paste to a digital format, where images were digitized, edited in Photoshop, and then laid out in Pagemaker.

That was 25 years ago… (where did the time go?)

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.


Mussing on comments by Dean Collins

So, I’m watching DC@Brooks – again; and I pick up just a little bit more.

Blowthrough on the background. i.e. in essence you don’t want your background to be brighter than 2 stops above 18% Grey, reflective… or in other words, no brighter tan 2 stops above the diffused value of your subject… I think I’ve got that right…

so, shooting at f/8 then the background should read no brighter than f/16-reflective; f/5,6 -> then f/11 reflective on the background; f/16 -> then f/32 reflective on the background; etc.

Photographic White and Black
Photographic White is 2 1/3 stops above 18%;
Photographic Black is 4 1/3 stops below 18%…

18% being the middle point.

Photographic Black is 4 & 2/3’s … Lithographic Black (for Magazines), however, is 2 & 1/3 … stops below 18% grey. (Reflective)

I want it darker…. “you’ll get it when its reproduced,” because web-press printing increases contrast by 10-15%

Thats Reflective, NOT Incident…

The standard of measure in Photography is?
What is our (photographic) 1 part? => 18%, i.e. changes by 1 stop…

With this we can measure and effect predictable changes.

If a Subject Incident Reading is f/16 THEN the background needs to be measured REFLECTIVE as f/8 for a photographic (reproducibly Lithographic Magazine) Black… etc.

Shooting with two layers of black, cotton tulle (available from Florists) over the lens, to cut base contrast by approx. 10% …
it helps to manage post-production web-press reproduction of the image, which tends to enhance contrast by 10-15%

Catalog Photography: What needs to be consistent? Colour – i.e. The diffused value of the product. Shadows and Specular is used to identify shape and texture – those are going to be (colour) incorrect, But, what needs to be correct is the base diffused value.

Other
Eggshell Crate paint it black, cut it to size and put it on your soft boxes. Will keep the light on the subject but isolate the background by 2 -5 stops… USE IT its good!

How to get your backgrounds to all have the same consistency and brightness relative to the subject?
Light your subject relative to the brightness of the background such that you maintain the same lighting ratio.
i.e. if in the first shot, your background is 1 stop brighter than your subject? then in every subsequent shot, light your subject to be 1 stop duller than your background, however, you still need to expose for the true base diffused value of your subject.

Lastly, What exposure is it? “Its f/Good…”

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.


Is the Camera Dead?

I recently came across a blog article responding to some recent claims that the camera was dead. It was called, “Of Cameras: Traditional Photography is most certainly not dead” by a Mr. John Cary, of Fifty Shoot Shadows fame.

Its an interesting read, lengthy, but worth a read as are the comments that follow after it. This kind of dialogue takes time. What’s interesting to note is that not everyone reads all the previous comments, their engagement in the conversation is more directly with the author, like some private conversation rather than a public discourse. As such some peoples reactions seem to be one of, “How dare you comment on my comment, its none of your business, can’t you see I’m trying to have a conversation here?”

The two problems here are both of the Initial commentator’s making. First is misunderstanding that a Blog post is like an open discussion in a public space where all and sundry are welcome to read (listen) and then engage in discussion and debate, i.e. commentary is the discussion but it is not a one to one private discussion with the blog author. Second, is what I refer to as misplaced indignation, in so far as the commentator wishes to engage in discussion but does not welcome any criticism or counterpoint to their arguments or aspertions, i.e. they’ve gone into battle (figuratively) wearing cotton rather than chainmail and expect the same level of impunity.

For today, that’s what’s in my,
Line of Sight.


Do I Need a Portfolio? Really? Need?

Yes.

Portfolios. Perhaps the single most daunting and frustrating item in the aspiring professional photographer’s toolbox. I say toolbox, because this item is not a reference, it is not static or fixed, it is constantly changing, getting worn and in need of renewing. That makes it a tool.

And by calling a Portfolio a Tool, we are able to approach it from a different energy perspective, and abandon the anxiety ridden, is right? is it enough? eat your stomach out in worry trepidation that usually accompanies the question of a Portfolio.

So, first off, what is a portfolio? In simple terms it is a collection, album if you will, of what you think is your best photographic work. Most photographers, I think get this. thus it is not so great a cause of contention, however the refining of this definition is what certainly starts the blood pressure rising with self-applied stress.

As we move as photographers into specialisation: Light Painter, Fine Art Photographer, Still Life Photographer, Commercial Photographer, Weeding Photographer, Landscape Photographer, Food Photographer, Fashion Photographer, Travel Photographer, Photojournalist, Radiographer, etc., (well, maybe not Radiographer) then our portfolio becomes a collection of our best work in this specialisation.

As a result, each specialisation, apparently, has its own format for the presentation of one’s portfolio. Frequently, this is not readily known or is so muddled in online chats its difficult to differentiate fact from fiction and evolving change in style.

Often one doesn’t know first time around how to present a portfolio until having presented the wrong format and spectacularly failed on the initial first impression, the caveat in this being outstanding images that stand head and shoulders above anything else seem before or since, but with such failing usually some small feedback or advice will be given to correct the error in expectation and delivery. Another source of information are agencies.

But! You want to go it alone, and don’t want to make that first big fail. Therein you already have. But its from failure that we learn and develop and grow.

So, what formats are there for Portfolios? Lets start traditional and move towards modern: loose photos from 8×10 through to 16×20 held in some kind of Artist’s portfolio Box; similarly mounted photos in similar storage; Photographic prints in clear sleeves and kept in some form of Binder; Photographic Prints in a Bound Book of varying quality bindings varying from paper to cloth to leather; Photobooks, again similarly bound; online gallery, or webpage, an app on a tablet or iPad; similar app on a smart phone.

Which is the right one? OMG, I can’t afford some of those options, Blind Mice! I don’t even have an A3 photographic printer…

Depending where you live in the world these can be significant issues. I currently live in Germany. I used to live in Vietnam, China, and Australia. Until now I have always been concerned with this price issue. Its a Devil’s Choice issue you don’t have the money for the high quality, photographic prints to show off your best work but without them you can’t raise patrons, potential employes or clients. Germany has a number of “Soap” shops, as I call them – Budnikowski and Rossmann are two such stores; where you can download your digital film to a local terminal or upload to an online server and order prints for a ridiculously low price per print, or price per Photobook.

Now, I’ve been dwelling on this for quite some time now… entry level portfolios, entry level… cheap as chips and not as nasty… What’s the quality like? How durable are they? Who cares? They’re every bit as good as photographic printer prints you’d make in your studio at home. They are not printed on gallery grade media and they are not aimed at being a long term investment in limited edition prints for sale or gallery exhibitions. But they’re good enough as entry level tools. To get you started whilst you hone your portfolio and slowly invest in higher prestige portfolio presentation.

Believe me, I sincerely consider such low cost printing services, or online printing services, to be the Procrastinating Portfolio Presenter’s way out. This IS the way to make a start, make low cost, easily remedied, mistakes and still hold your head up high. This is a secure way of building the right photographic portfolio tools for your photographic specialisation, AND, its what I’m doing for me.

For today, that’s what’s in my,
Line of Sight.


Australia Day – 2013.01.26

In Australia, “Australia Day” Australia’s National Holiday, has its adherents and detractors. There is much debate raging over its current contemporary meaning and validity. For the unjaded, expat Australian however, it is the one day of the year where we can celebrate our nationality and reconnect with our sense of cultural identity.

We are generally proud Australians and in the most part happy that we come from Australia in spite of the occasional cringe at the shenanigans of myopic politicians, or greedy bastard resource exploitationists, or even the dangerous stupidity of some home grown homicidal maniac.

Still, Australia Day is, at least for me, a time to celebrate being Australian, a time to think back over the things I’ve done, the places I’ve seen and the family I’ve help create. Its a time for me to reflect on what I hope to achieve and do and how that might integrate with my sense of self, self-worth, and identity. Its also a time to kick back with a few good friends, sink a few beers and enjoy some quintessential Aussie fare.

While some of this can be imported into Germany, sometimes you just have to make it yourself. This has over the past several years led to an obsession with Australian-style pies and savory pastries, to the point that I am now quite adept at making this amazing Aussie treat.

This Australia Day? ‘ave a good ‘un, and get that int’ya!

Beef and semi-dried Tomato Pie

Beef and semi-dried Tomato Pie. Beef, caramelized onions, semi-dried tomato, feta cheese, puff pastry top, Aussie Piebase shell. Australian Flag water tattoo (thats why the flag is backwards) White plate with silver decoration. Indoor Lighting, no additional Processed in Lightroom 3. Handheld, iPhone 5, 4.13mm, 1/15sec at f/2.4, ISO 400.


Photographic Inspiration

Admiration, Influence, and Inspiration are three words that touch on a very crucial aspect of photographic process. They each touch on how we respond to, or identify our Heros, our Mentors and our Muses.

I’ve been wallowing recently, struggling with Assignment Seven, on The Photography Insitute Freelance Photography Course, and I’d like to share what I’ve finally come up with.

Heros are those people at the cutting edge of our particular field of photography. They are the movers and shakers, the ones who excel above and beyond the better than average. Typically we might identify with only one or two. We may not always like everything that they do but we do admire something about what they produce. Heros can inspire us, they can influence what we do, and they can be a beacon showing us what is possible.

If I were to identify one photographer as a Hero, I guess, for me, it would be Dean Collins. His technical understanding of light and his easy ability to communicate his understanding to others while still maintaining a sense of humour was compelling. his Finelight Series has above all else shaped my understanding of photographic lighting.

Who would you consider to be your photographic Hero?

Mentors are those around us, who we associate with, who guide us through ongoing pursuit in photography. They help us to understand processes and prompt us to do and see and strive. They can be real life friends and/or colleagues that we respect or look up to; professional leading lights whose paths we regularly and periodically cross; our tutors and instructors from courses in photography that we might take; or, authors of books to which we regularly return.

My mentors have changed over time: this will always be the case. For me Fabian K. Beal through his book, Photography Explained, is an example of an Author/book that I can not be without. This text to me is indispensible.

Through the Photography Institute course, George Seper and Steven Vote both of whom are decent Food Photographers, are current mentors; George through his texts and Steve through his tutorship.

In Hanoi, three people come to mind that I might consider to be mentors of sorts. Tim Page, former Vietnam War Corespondent and now does much work to support the development of photojournalism in Vietnam, Ed Halpen, an American foreign corespondent and photographer  at large  and Ian Morton, a stock photographer and freelancer specialising in South East Asia.

Who would you consider to be a Mentor and why?

Muses are much harder to find. They are fleeting and their impact whilst sometimes mentally earth shattering can also be fleeting. A muse is something or someone that inspires us, causing us to act, often imediately.

They get under our skin and creat an irrisistable itch tha needs to be scratched. A powerful and pationate infatuation that must be explored regardles of the cost or time. Muses occupy our waking thoughts and our dreams at night. Once in their grip we are held captive until whatever desire to act, to create to emulate has been satisfied. And after, the moment passes with no more recollection than that of a dream.

It has taken me quite some time to unravel this. I am periodically gripped by such photographic muses. But also by other muses that result in photographic documentation. My food blog, The Baitlayer – A Circus Cook’s Diary, contains many references to things done with food that I just had to do, and photograph.

Food is an ongoing thing that I return to. I look at it from many perspectives, documentation, product, illustration, advertising illustration, art; the approach to it can be as varied as any other sort of photography. It is a love and hate relationship. It inspires me and then leave me spent, exhausted, forlorn. It’s almost like being on a bi-polar rollercoaster.

It’s funny now, that I make the connection that two of my mentors are well versed in Food Photography. At the start of my course, I really didn’t make the conscious connection, a “yeah, that’s interesting” and then file it away in the back of the brain somewhere to be promptly forgotten. I tend to do a lot of that. But are my mentors sources of Inspiration? Weeeell, no… Not really. Their photos really cause me to look, to ponder, consider, “Who did they do that?” and so forth, but their images don’t get under my skin.

Allow me to give some examples. A while back I came across a reference to a new IKEA food book, shot by Carl Kleiner and Styled by his wife Evelina. No sooner had I seen the images I needed to do something. So, I baked. And I shot the product, deconstructed as a pattern of ingredients.

More recently, while wrestling with and trying to findan inspiring Food Photographer, I came across Patrice de Villiers  and amazing as her shots were, the photographer who work had me turning in my early morning sleep was Caren Alpert  with a shot of a pod of Star Anise. I had to shoot this, had to do something.

In doing so I reconected with a well and truly forgotten technique I’d happend across, (that’s interesting, file in the back of the brain) called focus stacking. Doh! I haven’t finished doing the shot, but believe me it’s burning away in my imagination like a hot, little ember. Now that’s what I call Inspiration!

Which photographers insire you and what have you done as a result of that inspiration?

A last thought. Most of the time the works that inspire us are the works of friends, colleagues, associates, etc. I have a list of Favoite images on Flickr  which are, “Ohhh! Ahhh! Wow!” shots that for wahtever reason at the time caught my imagination.  As a process of this reflection above, I’ve identified many photographers that I admire and find interesting, but there is also a background against which all of this plays itself out. This is best exemplified by the fantastic source of archival images, Masters of Photography  to which I periodically return to browse and explore. Highly recommended. Also, thanks recently to Jenn Oliver of Jenn Cuisine for a great list of sites and resources for inspiring Food Photography.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.

 

—–Addendum—–

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of photographic mentors, heros and muses that I found interesting and worth considering. Perhaps you will too:

Terry Palka
Cindy Sherman
Steve McCurry 1 and Steve McCurry 2
Mike Langford
George Seper
Steven Vote
Patrice de Villiers
Caren Alpert
Dean Collins
Daido Moriyama
Mike Ware
Fabian K. Beal
John Hedgecoe
Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Litchfiled
Anthony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon
Craig Barber
Pinky M. M. Bass
Willie Anne Wright
Ruth Thorne-Thompson
Christopher Bucklow 1 and Christopher Bucklow 2
T.R. Ericsson
David Duchemin
Rachel Masako
Carl & Evelina Kleiner
Tim Page
Ian Morton
Masters of Photography


A question of sharpness

Recently, a friend of mine commented on one of my pinhole photos. He said  it was interesting, but a bit blurry.

Blurry…

BLURY?!?

It’s not blurry, it’s soft!

It’s a pinhole image!

You should have seen some of my earlier work! Blurry…     😉

But like with all criticism, it behooves one to go back and take a look with fresh eyes, after all the image, to be fair, was hand held, for an exposure time of 0.7 seconds.

Canon EOS 7D, 0.2/40mm f/200 BCPH, 0.7 sec, ISO 12800. (35mm eqv. approx. 50mm)

On review there’s no noticeable motion blur, so… blurry?

Pinhole Softness

This begs the question. After all one person’s softness is another’s bleary eyed vision the day after the night before. So, in Pinhole Photography, what is considered an acceptable level of softness in an image?

We’ve been here before, right?

From all the guff that is out an about on the web, there are as may opinions on this as there are people taking pinhole photos. However universally, the larger the format, the sharper the image, but for each format, and at each focal length there appears to be, in general, an optimal sized hole. Or to put it another way, for each hole diameter, there’s an optimal focal length – distance between the sensor, or film, and the pinhole.

Now, the hole used for the above shot was a hand drilled, 0.2mm hole. The optimal focal length for said hole is 22.5 mm. Body cap mounted on my Canon EOS 7D the focal length (hole to sensor distance) is around 40 mm +/- a poofteenth.  So this hole is mounted 17.5 mm too far away from it’s optimal (sharpest) mounting point. Perhaps, that’s why this image may be considered a little soft.

So, I went ahead and drilled another hole. as far as I can tell, it is a 0.3 mm hole. It’s optimal focal length is 50.6 mm away from the sensor, but it is mounted 40 mm away from the sensor. That is 10.6 mm closer to the sensor that it should be. So the images should be a little sharper, yes?

Let’s see.

Canon EOS 7D, 35mm f/2.0, f/16, 0.5 sec, ISO 100. (35mm eqv. approx. 56mm)

This first image was shot using a lens to give us a benchmark for sharpness.

Canon EOS 7D, 0.2/40mm f/200 BCPH, 121 sec, ISO 100. (35mm eqv. approx. 55mm)

This next shot is with the same pinhole as the one used for the street scene above.

Canon EOS 7D, 0.3/40mm f/133 BCPH, 30 sec, ISO 100. (35mm eqv. approx. 55mm)

Can you see a difference? I’ll be buggered if I can. But looking at the piano name, perhaps… ?? I dunno.

However, not one to rest on my laurels, I still have one trick up my sleeve. These pinholes are mounted at 40 mm from the sensor inside a bodycap. This is achieved by using a plastic 35mm film canister cap. Removing this cap allows me to place the pinhole against the inside of the body cap. Giving an effective pinhole to sensor distance of around 48 mm! Which is 2.6 mm short of the optimal focal length. Well, that should be sharper than the others, right?

Let’s see…

Canon EOS 7D, 0.3/48mm f/160 BCPH, 30.0 sec, ISO 100. (35mm eqv. approx. 70mm)

I’m still not so sure… But, that Ladies and Gentlemen, is about as sharp as I can get it – short of gluing it to the front of the body cap…. hold that thought…

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.

 

Addendum.

Did you hold that thought? An extra, approx. 2 mm increase in focal length, that’s 50 mm!  Which is 0.6 mm too short, and 0.001 mm in diameter too small – do you wanna hand drill that correction?

Canon EOS 7D, 0.3/50mm f/167 BCPH, 4 1/2 min, ISO 100. (35mm eqv. approx. 85mm)

…and on that note I’m not doing one jot more. The hole is good, the distance is almost optimal, dust can’t get in and I’m comfortable with the degree of softness that this produces, which is reminiscent of a soft focus filter.

Sunny 16 Exposure for ISO100 is 1.09 sec. When taking an exposure reading, I have to increase the exposure time by around 6 & 1/3 stops.

Alternatively, with lens on, I could up the ISO to 400, take a hand/palm exposure reading at f16, dial it in to Manual and lock in the reading, then Exposure Compensate by around +3 EV, and swap in the pinhole, before taking the shot.

For the grainy look at ISO6400 this translates into a very, very hand holdable, 1/60 sec +1/3EV exposure on a bright sunny day. Daido Moriyama anyone?

For today, that’s what’s in my

 

Line of Sight


Photography and Work

I used to dream of being a successful photographer with a modicum of international exposure, to make my living from the biz, have my own studio work for me, and for others. But alas, it was a vain hope. I came to Vietnam.

I couldn’t find a sufficiently sized customer base, and I was not willing to work for free, on spec, and give away all rights to my photos. Then, my studio was robbed. My cameras and lenses stolen. I was devastated! Shattered, and in spite of replacing one camera I’ve not recovered from it.

My studio, now a sad an bitter joke, my business plans in ruins, my business? Truth of the matter, I never had one. Without customers, you have no business, and it only so long you can maintain the dream that, “If you build it, they will come.”  The robbery forced me to, “wake up.”

I still have a camera, but my desire and passion for photography has taken such a deep hit, that I simply walk away when faced with the prospect of, “Taking Photos.” I’d rather leave my camera at  home, than take it with me on the off chance of capturing a few shots.

I’m in stunning Asia! A traveller! … And the thought of taking photos makes me want to throw up! That’s how bad it’s got. Now, when I take my camera with me, its to stop someone trying to steal it, when I’m out of the house.

People still ask me from time to time if I still take photos? Sure, I’ll do the occasional portrait shoot, or documentation at the behest of a friend, but not much more. Now, I mostly only shoot to document my food explorations.

The joy is just no longer there. … TT

…for today, that’s what’s in my,

Line of Sight


Thinking about an approach to teaching Digital Photography

It’s a funny thing, digital photography, in this day and age it has both adherents and detractors, and nowhere more so than in the area of photographic instruction.I recently did a search for curriculum documents for digital photography. One result returned the following, “Please note that digital photography will neither be covered, nor allowed in this course.” [American School Foundation of Monterey – Photography 10-12] whilst in contrast, another offered a full Diploma, “Diploma In Digital Photography And Digital Graphics (DV)/. First Year/ …” .

When it come to existing lesson plans, again there is an all or none division to the field. Now, why am I focused on this? Well because through the use of this blog, I intend to provide some background resources and readings for those who ask me, from time to time, to teach them a bit about modern, digital photography.

Currently on the web there are lots of cool and interesting sites that provide juicy titbits about going digital or making the most of it. Even here on Picture Social, via another blog is a link to Taking Manual Control Over Your Digital Camera.

However, I’m not interested in pinching content but directing others to examine the content and then to pursue a dialogue about digital photography here. It is through this dialogue and exchange of ideas that people learn and develop their skills and the mechanism for guiding such skill development.

Looking back over some of my books, yes I still use analogue reading matter, by authors such as Hedgecoe, Calder & Garrett, Beal, Busselle, Heller and others is that they are primarily grounded in the Silver Gelatine process, and this process shapes the mental paradigm that defines “photography.” As such, digital photography comes off as a facsimile of the real thing. Consequently, all comparisons and drivers of perceived quality find, by one route or another, an inevitable comparison to its film predecessor.

Film management, darkroom techniques, chemistry, silver recovery and waste disposal management have no place in modern, digital photography yet the process from image capture to final sharing of the image was intimately tied to this backbone. what is needed for teaching digital photography is an entirely new skeleton, a basis on which to map out each stage in the image creation process. A new foundation on which to build the definitions, expectations and quality criteria essential for the understanding, appreciation and quantification of what is digital photography.

Film is in its winter years, and while it may not die altogether, it’s relevance in shaping the visual aesthetic of present and future generations is rapidly losing the monopoly it once held. Digital, though still yet to glimpse a view of some halcyon future, is, at an exponential rate, taking fast grip of the imaginations of masses, a fluid, dynamic, instantaneous feedback, grip on the minds of the people.

If we, as proponents of photography, are to in any way shape the thoughts and skills development of future photographers so that they might strive to become master craftsmen of this art called photography, then we need to start now, stripping the shackles of the past from our definitions, performance measures, curriculum, and lesson strategies, so as future generations of photographers are not unduly burdened with increasingly irrelevant ghosts of the past.

What should be part of a modern digital photography curriculum? What are the levels of performance, categorisations of photographic users? What information would be deemed essential for each category? These are some of the questions I’m wrestling with as I review the skills that I may need to teach to those who seek my advice, knowledge and help to improve their skills.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and invite you to join this dialogue. Drop by from time to time, and feel free to engage.

Welcome to my

Line of Sight