17 November, 2013

the Arnold Newman Archive is fixed

For a little while, Google was reporting the Arnold Newman Archive as having malware. I mentioned that in an earlier post; so now that it's fixed, I thought I should say that too.

I'm a big fan of Newman. The archive highlights his iconic portraits, but also shows some of his earlier work. Have a look.

04 November, 2013

Dear Sony

Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest Cathedral in North America

Sony has, once again, grabbed the photography world's attention with new cameras. The new, full-frame, interchangeable lens, mirrorless A7 and A7r are gorgeous. And, these follow hard on the heels of the RX1, Sony's, similarly gorgeous, full-frame, fixed-lens camera.

Small full-frames seem to be the trend. (Must be, if Nikon is paying attention.)

In the years to come I'll probably move to full-frame. But right now, APS-C works for me. (When I started typing that last sentence, I first wrote "APS-C is good enough." But that sounded like it was some kind of trade-off. It wasn't.)

When I chose the NEX system, they were the tools I wanted — still want. The NEX 6 & 7 are small, light, inconspicuous, reliable, have built-in viewfinders, and outstanding sensors. (Pity about the interface.) And, the E-Mount lens line has outstanding primes, in the range that I want.

Sony, I won't be moving to full-frame right now. But you keep up the good work. And so will I.

“It’s a poor workman who blames his tools;”
but poorer he, who fails to exploit those he has.
—Yllib Ybnad (b. 1948)

03 November, 2013

The General

[23/6/14 - Another copy of "The General" bites the YouTube dust. Here's yet another version.]

[20/3/14 - Well, these things happen: The version of "The General" that I discussed below has come off of YouTube. Fair enough. I've replaced it with another version, that lacks the Hisaishi soundtrack.]

In 1926 Buster Keaton made the silent movie, The General. (Yes, I know it says "1927" in the YouTube frame above.) The movie is on just about every critic's list of the greatest movies of all time. Mine too.

The "General" is a train and Keaton is its driver. It's set in the South at the start of the American Civil War. It has romance, comedy and adventure. The trains in the film were real and the stunts were ridiculously dangerous. The movie was hugely expensive at the time.

In 2004, the French reissued a remastered and repaired version with a new musical score by Joe Hisashi, the brilliant Japanese composer, conducting the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra.

The version embedded above is the remastered/Hisaishi version in its entirety. I wouldn't have come back so soon to foist another movie on you, but this is a special case. The film is in the public domain, but the new score is not. I have no idea how long it will remain up on YouTube. Do yourself a favour and watch it —then go out and buy a copy.

02 November, 2013

Environmental Portraits 01

A friend in his kitchen

There's an Environmental Portraits Group on flickr that highlights some great work. I haven't joined the group yet, because I don't have enough work that I think of as environmental — and that I'm ready to put out there. (I need to find some patient subjects.)

For me, an environmental portrait needs to be about the subject and his or her own environment. So, no tight head shots with creamy, out of focus backgrounds, no pretty girls in disused factories, and no shots of Aunt Edna in front of the Eiffel Tower (unless, of course, Mademoiselle Edna lives or works there). There's nothing wrong with any of those kinds of photographs, but they don't seem to me to be "environmental portraits." Wikipedia seems to agree with me. But, I accept that opinions differ about these things.

I was going to talk about how much I like the work of Arnold Newman and the photographers who have worn the Arnold Newman Prize, but the Arnold Newman Archive site seems to be coming up with malware warnings, so I might leave that to another day. (17 Nov 2013: It looks like the Arnold Newman Archive has been fixed -- have a look.) My point was going to be how well Newman often addressed the environments without losing his focus on his subjects.

Using a sports metaphor
gets you off to a false start.
—Yllib Ybnad (b. 1948)