Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting the Word Out

Chris Corradino is a friend of this blog and an excellent photographer and photo teacher. Among his areas of interest: nature photography. The catch? While stripped-away quarries will work if you're Edward Burtynsky, generally you'll need nature if you're going to work as a nature photographer.

So, in an effort to Help Spread the Word! he's suggested posting the following image:

In this case, clicking on the image links to The Nature Conservancy. We're approaching the time of year when a donation to a group just like that could make a great gift for someone who's tough to buy for. Or just for anyone nature-friendly. Or just for anyone....

By the way, Chris has a book available now: From Manhattan to Montauk: A Photographic Journey. Follow the link to preview the first 15 pages.

Leibovitz on Lenses

I've been reading Annie Leibovitz at Work.

I'll discuss the book once I finish it, but I wanted to highlight Leibovitz' use of lenses in her early days with Rolling Stone, as detailed on page 16:
"During the early years at the magazine, when I thought of myself more as a photojournalist than a portraitist, I usually carried three cameras on assignments. I didn't want to lose time changing lenses. I would take a 35mm lens, a 55, and a 105.

"A 35mm lens provides a perspective close to what the human eye sees, and it was my lens of choice. The 55 was considered a 'normal' lens, very classic, simple and noninterfering. The 105 was on a body with a meter and I could use it for light readings. Zoom lenses were not really an option then. They weren't made well. When you saw a photographer with a zoom lens on his camera you didn't take him seriously."
I find it interesting how much that situation has changed today. If you look in the camera bag of any typical photographer in the "working, but not famous" category today, you'll be very likely to find two great zoom lenses packed, with possibly no primes at all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the Beach (500th Post)

On Halloween, Mrs. New York Portraits and I went to Florida for a beach wedding. We left New York -- with daily high temperatures in the 40s -- for a room a few yards from the beach.

My task for the weekend was to photograph the wedding. (I'm hesitant to say that, because I'm not a wedding photographer, and I know a lot of wedding photographers, and they're not particularly happy when they hear you've taken a gig away from a full-time wedding photographer. It was a family thing, though, and besides -- taking pictures gives me something to do other than stand close to the open bar.)

So I did. The technical specs: just under 1300 shots (about 12 gigabytes of files), using cameras mounted with a Sigma 24mm f/1.8 and a Tamron 90mm f/2.8. Balanced beachy daylight with fill from my Metz 58 during the service, then at sunset the trick was to get seascape skies mixed with the flash -- without the flash looking like flash. Went fine.

The wedding rehearsal was scheduled on Halloween, and everyone -- bride, groom, guests and all -- came in costume. Maybe I'll be able to post a few of those soon. Until then: a casual snap of Mrs. New York Portraits in a kimono, waiting for the rehearsal.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tofurkwiches All Weekend

Above: yesterday's tofurkey spectacular, photographed with my iPhone.

Black Friday Bargains

Memory Cards keep getting bigger and cheaper -- but these two deals on Compact Flash cards are superb:

SanDisk 8 GB Extreme III CF Card

SanDisk 4GB Extreme III CF Card

$30 for 8 gigabytes is amazing. There are also incredible deals on SD cards.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

iPhone as Action Cam

So around 125th Street, they jumped on the train: a video camera operator with a backpack holding huge batteries, a still photographer, a woman, and a mysterious man in the background. They quickly grabbed some footage of her on the train, as seen above, then rode along until we came out of the tunnel near Yankee Stadium. They shot a little out the window, then jumped off just as quickly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

iPhone as Pocket Cam

So a long while back -- right after the Webby Awards, actually -- my handy fits-in-my-pocket camera went kablooey. I've shot a lot since then, of course, with my regular cameras, but I haven't purchased a small carry-everywhere. In the meantime, I've tested my iPhone in that role.

Generally, it's awful. Good looking pictures, but too slow a process to get started and too clumsy to get the photo. So if the photo is of something that moves faster than a window, the odds are not on your side.

Above: a window.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Toilets of the Upper East Side

Thursday morning I stepped outside to find a toilet sitting on 89th Street. I stopped and took a photograph. People stared at me. I walked to 87th, where I found two toilets. I stopped and photographed them. People stared at me.

I chose not to look on 85th street.

Alas, Poor Tunick

This just in: Spencer Tunick is still a hack.

Hold on ... receiving another report ... and the media still writes about him. That wouldn't bother me except that they neglect to point out that when he says his work "explores the relationships and comfort levels of people in a party atmosphere" he means to say "I'm doing the same thing again, and continuing to claim it's more than it is."

You can more or less write all future Spencer Tunick articles ahead of time: "Yesterday, Spencer Tunick photographed a large or small group of people without clothes. He then issued a press release claiming his work is greatly significant, despite the fact that you can't find a single reputable curator who's interested in it. (Of course, finding people to sell it -- that's easier, and a different thing altogether. Blue Dog paintings sell. Nagel prints sell.) The press release mentioned AIDS, global warming, issues of representation or something else not actually related to the work. Managing editors read four words into the release -- as far as the word 'nude' -- and assigned the story to a writer who copied and pasted in the text of a previous article, replacing only the location of the event and a quote from someone who may or may not have actually been there."

New York Magazine covers the latest event:

Spencer Tunick Got a Bunch of People Naked in Brooklyn the Other Night

Warning: the article has a teensy-tiny photo that is NSFW (not safe for work) viewing if you work somewhere where people have superhuman eyesight.

Best article on the general lameness of the Spencer Tunick experience:

Why doesn't Spencer Tunick get any respect?
The problem with Tunick as an artist—and the main reason, I think, most critics have ignored him—is that he doesn't seem to have anything to say. His installations are spectacular and attention-grabbing, but as for what it all means … well, to put it bluntly, I don't think it extends too far beyond, "Wow. That's a lot of naked people."
Above: on 86th Street.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dogs of The Upper East Side

Above: somewhere in the East 90s.

Sub Nosa

Today on the subway, a fight almost broke out. One guy yelled at the other guy for a long time. The exchange was very charged, just short of actual punches. At least, as of 86th Street. They were still on the subway, sitting across from each other, when I left.

I didn't take a photo. I was just sure that would be seen as more offensive than what they were saying.

Above: a modified poster in the subway at 86th Street.

Sony Alpha 900

I've shot with both Nikons and Canons. They remain the two big forces in professional cameras. I've been adamantly trying to explain, however, to those who won't take them seriously, that Sony is starting to make better cameras than the big two.

Of course, respect comes slowly to any brand, and grudgingly. Now Pop Photo has a review of the new Sony Alpha 900 that hints at this. I say hints, because they explain the Sony beats cameras $5000 more expensive in major areas such as resolution, viewfinder and in-body image stablization -- the essentials of traditional photography -- but they nitpick with less-crucial areas such as live view and the ability to shoot HD video, which are sometimes useful but not the main point of a pro camera.
"With its first full-frame DSLR, Sony has shown that it can definitely run with the big boys. While we have yet to test Canon's new, midrange, full-frame 5D Mark II, this Sony currently packs the most resolution you can get in a DSLR. Add to that fast AF, an outrageously appealing viewfinder, and a body with a great grip and plenty of dedicated controls, and you've got a winner."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Frugal Traveler: New York City

Here's a Frugal episode I forgot to post: Frugal Traveler: New York City.

I think it is my last episode with the series.
"The Frugal Traveler discovers that New York is really a city of small, manageable neighborhoods, and it's not expensive if you know where to go."

How's Manhattan Voting?

At Crumbs, one "Obama Rocks" cupcake remains while two trays of "McCain" cupcakes -- sprinkles and all -- sit untouched.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Went to Nokomis, Florida to photograph a relative's wedding. Had a great time. Have to share one story: after the ceremony and shooting some setups on the beach, took a break, went to the the open bar, and asked for a beer. The bartender looked me in the eye, and told me "We don't serve the hired help."

Back in New York

Went to Florida to photograph a wedding. Photos soonish....