MIT Puts Photo Classes Online
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Did you ever consider attending a world class university like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology? Well now you can—for free. The professors of MIT have utilized the university's Open Course Ware program to make available reference materials, syllabi and lesson plans for a dozen undergraduate and graduate level photography classes. The materials are free to download, and they include classes such as "Introduction to Photography," "Photography and Truth" and "Documentary Photography and Photojournalism." Additional courses are expected to go online soon, and MIT has published material from more than 2200 courses since 2002 under a Creative Commons license—meaning that you're free to utilize the lesson plans as you see fit as long as you don't mind not receiving course credit or a degree at the end. Read more at DP Review, then visit MIT's OCW page for a list of the photography classes currently available.
Enough Whining About Creative Cloud Licensing
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I'm surprised by how much backlash Adobe has received, and continues to receive, since converting from a one-time purchase system to a subscription model for Photoshop, Lightroom and many other powerful programs. I was just reading a discussion at the Adobe blog, linked below, about what happens to Lightroom itself after a membership plan ends. It got me thinking—probably because so many people, here and elsewhere, are so vocal in their dismay over what they perceive to be an awful move by Adobe—that they're really missing the point. First, many photographers depend on the ability to license image files in order to make a living. We should be used to the licensing-based-on-usage approach. The fact that Adobe has managed to take a huge chunk out of the market for infringers is huge. I applaud them, frankly. But that's still not the point. Simple math shows that the new licensing model is a much better deal for almost everyone. Back when Photoshop CS6 came out it retailed for more than $600. (If you were a student or teacher, your version cost half of that.) The high startup cost served as a massive barrier to entry, one that I think encouraged a lot of folks to decide that it was better to pirate than to pay. (I'm not excusing it, I'm just explaining it.) So now with the Creative Cloud, Adobe offers a "photography only" package that includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom—software that retails on its own for $75—and the combo is just $10 a month. That's $120 a year for a subscription, meaning it takes five years (!) before you finally equal the one-time cost for CS6. Staying current during those five years would mean upgrades that raise the price further, but even without upgrades the Creative Cloud pricing is a much better deal financially for everyone but the "buy one copy and keep it for a decade" crowd. Add to that the fact that the startup cost for a photographer is now just $10 to get into a full version of Photoshop and it's unbelievable deal. But wait, there's more. Not only does the new approach make Photoshop more affordable, but when you factor in that your software will always be up to date, and that you can access a variety of different pieces of software under the same Creative Cloud license ($50/month for everything for laymen, just $20/month for everything for students and teachers) it becomes an unprecedented deal in terms of easy access to world class software. As a Creative Cloud user, on a whim you can now download class leading programs like Premiere for video editing, Audition for audio editing and Dreamweaver for web development. For the life of me I can't imagine how a photographer who previously purchased Photoshop every couple of generations could find a way to complain about the Creative Cloud as it exists today. We're getting so much more for a lot less. And just to be clear, though this may sound like a commercial it's just my unsolicited opinion. I'm just a photographer who believes Adobe has made this great software even better, and more accessible, than ever. Complaining about it just doesn't make sense.
Photographs From Le Tour
Monday, July 21, 2014
Every year in the heat of summer, my eyes turn toward France. Specifically, this is the few weeks every year when I become a huge fan of cycling and the Tour de France. I won't bore you with the same treatise I use to impress my wife and kids about how amazing the Tour is, and instead I'll just get right to the photographic evidence. Part of the reason I enjoy the Tour so much is that it's such a visually stunning event. Not only is it a mind-boggling physical and mental challenge, but the whole thing is pretty darn beautiful to watch. So here's a gallery of amazing Tour photos from this year's race, which has already been one of the most grueling in the event's century-long history. Courtesy of the Oregonian newspaper link below, the gallery shows the requisite shots of the peloton peddling past a field of sunflowers, as well as more unique shots of the environment, the spectators and the overall grit and drama of the Tour. Make sure you enlarge the gallery to full screen so you can really get into the details provided by the talented photographers of the Associated Press. You've still got a week of Tour watching left, so if you're interested in watching beautiful landscape photography come to life as the world's greatest cyclists pedal through it, here's your chance.
Learn Photography Online
Friday, July 18, 2014
If you or someone you know is fairly new to photography, you might be well served by an introductory photography class. I often recommend that folks look into these classes at their local community colleges and continuing education centers, but there's another nice option available online. It's the Intro to Photography Class created by photographer Alex Buisse. It stemmed from the group Reddit, an online community where users post content on a practically infinite set of topics, and discuss them in depth and at length. It's a site that can be a big time-waster (in the best way possible) or a very practical way to learn something new. Well, in the Photography "sub-Reddit" (a section of the site dedicated to photographic discussions) Buisse organized his Intro to Photography class and presented it via Reddit to more than 7,000 users in 2010. The course was a huge success, and I can tell you that in its new home on a dedicated site run by Buisse, it is really sharply done and looks to be a wonderful way for new photographers to learn a lot about the medium. Buisse is clearly a very talented adventure photographer and a great teacher, and this class might be just the ticket for beginner photographers to get a solid footing in a very practical way. Read all about it—and take the class—at http://www.r-photoclass.com/.
National Geographic’s Animal Selfies
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Have you seen National Geographic's new ad campaign? It's a good one. It features some amazing pictures of exotic animals, but these are no regular wildlife photographs you'd see in the pages of the publication. These are selfies—pandas and kangaroos and gorillas who have made self portraits just like humans do. The ad's tagline says it all: "There are lots of terrible animal pictures out there. National Geographic Collection: The Best Images are Here." Shot by Silvio Medeiros for Diomedia, these ads for great photography also feature great photography—this time, though, it's slickly produced, very well done advertising photography that's sure to provide a chuckle.
Storehouse App For Visual Storytelling
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I love anything that makes it easier for me to tell a story in pictures—whether that's moving pictures or stills. And I especially love it when my story is aided by a good, proven, clean design approach that makes the content come across even better. That's exactly what the Storehouse app for iPad does, thanks to its beautiful interface and simple, functional design. Storehouse allows us content creators (i.e. photographers and video producers) to create beautifully designed multimedia stories with its simple drag-and-drop interface. The app also makes it easy to get involved in the Storehouse community too, where you can see curated, inspiring works from other photographers, and share and promote your own multimedia work as well. The app has a strong design pedigree, as founder and CEO Mark Kawano was a lead designer at Apple for a decade, where he was largely responsible for designing iPhoto and Aperture photo organizing and editing applications. This is someone who knows how to make photographs look good, and Storehouse looks like a must-have application. For a great example of what Storehouse can do, check out this wonderful piece by tremendous National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson at https://www.storehouse.co/stories/v7qz-the-end-of-night, then see more about the app at www.storehouse.co.
Garry Winogrand's Photographic Life After Death
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
If you'll be in New York this summer, you'd be well advised to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the first major retrospective of the work of iconic photographer Garry Winogrand in nearly 30 years. This exhibition is unlike any other, however, because it's the first to include a significant number of images that were unseen until after the artist's death. It was known at the time of his demise in 1984 that Winogrand had been photographing prolifically, and that nearly 10,000 rolls of exposed film had never been edited by the photographer. Of those, fully one third—2,500 rolls representing more than 100,000 frames—hadn't even been developed. Well they've been processed now, and edited, and of the 175 prints included in the new exhibition, 56 are posthumous discoveries that have been selected and printed by the show's curator, Leo Rubenfien—including the example above. Until you're able to step inside the Met for yourself, consider starting with the thoughtful critique in the New York Times, linked below, which raises a provocative discussion of whether the art of editing and printing are integral to the art of photography, and whether or not a master such as Winogrand could (or should) ever be replaced in those tasks by even the most qualified surrogate. It's a challenging criticism that touches on another posthumous photographic body of work, the photographs of Vivian Maier that have exclusively been edited and printed by third parties. More than anything, though, the discussion is intriguing because of Winogrand's famous comments about deliberately trying to separate the act of photographing from the act of editing. Read the Times story, then see the show, and decide for yourself.
The Most Affordable Steadicam Ever
Monday, July 14, 2014
It's amazing to me just how fancy the tools surrounding smartphone photography and video production have become. I can only guess this trend will continue into the future as smartphones become ever more capable cameras. Did you know you can now get the beautifully smooth Steadicam look in your videos thanks to the Steadicam Smoothee? It's for videographers who want to create that flying sensation in a scene without the big budgets required for all other Steadicam options. The rock bottom price of this unit—just $149—should be the first clue, though, that this isn't for video cameras, or even DSLRs. The Smoothee is, in fact, a camera stabilizing platform built for smartphones and GoPro compact cameras. If you don't have the time or money to invest in "serious" video tools but you're interested in trying out the techniques for yourself, the Smoothee might be just the thing for you. I'm certainly not going to tell you a smartphone camera is just as good as a DSLR, but I am going to tell you that it's good to be gear agnostic; I don't care whether I make a photograph with a plain pinhole or a fancy medium format digital back. It's the end result that matters, and if this inexpensive tool makes it easier to make neat videos with a camera all of us already have on hand, well then consider me a fan.