Oct 21, 2017
Twenty-minute exposure for a portrait, and mercury fumes to make the image appear? Sign me up! 150,000 negatives plus 8 and 16 millimeter film from a person who died the week before they were discovered? Show me more! Twenty-nine years old and editing photography for one of the most iconic magazines of the last century? Sounds like a good story! Three more segments I haven't mentioned yet? Says you!
Let the Selfie Revolution Begin!
When Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre finished signing his name one day, which took until mid-morning I figure, he joined forces with fellow Frenchman Nicephore Niépce to develop a truly practical form of photography (episode 2 has the story of Niépce). His partner passed away suddenly and so Daguerre went on without him to, indeed, create the first commercially practical process of photography which he dubbed, in what was surely his typical modest style, the Daguerreotype. Here is Monsieur, photographed with his own process.
And here is a tiny sliver of the Cincinnati panorama, which I've excerpted from the full image to include the clock tower mentioned in the podcast. You can view and download the entire image, at a range of sizes up to 61,439 pixels across(!), on Wikipedia by clicking here.
Vivian Maier was a photographer who created what is probably some of the greatest street photography of the mid-to-late 20th Century, and though she was known as a person with a camera always around her neck, she was not known for her photography, which she kept almost completely unprinted or even undeveloped. The documentary Finding Vivian Maier tells the story of her via John Maloof's quest to figure out who she was, where she came from, and why she created this great trove of great imagery — but didn't share it with anyone. A fascinating story told in a compelling way.
The film is available on Netflix, at least as long as it's available on Netflix, or you can purchase it on Apple's iTunes for $12.99 which comes with extra images, footage, and audio.
Straightaway to the Highway
Peter Ensenberger's path to Arizona Highways, and beyond, is an illustration of how a crooked path can seem like a straight line. His story, from son of a furniture store owner to photography editor for the magazine is full of good timing piled onto fortuitous meetings and an eye for opportunity — and the courage to take those opportunities and make the most of them.
We had a long conversation that covers all of that and more. Listen in and hear how you, too, can be as jealous of his success as I am (in a very collegial way — don't worry). You can also learn more about his customized photography tours at Photo Tours Unlimited.
f/ Stands for Focus?
We're used to seeing a face, or a cactus, or a car, perfectly focused against a background that isn't. That distinction, sharp versus soft, shows off the subject, tells us what's important. But by using a small-numbered f-stop and including something in the composition closer than the face/cactus/car, we add immediacy or intimacy or surveillancy, depending on the particulars. Here are four examples, described in my photo tip this time.
I put some of the cactuses of the cactus garden into the from between me and this sign. I'll note that some bigger cactuses in the foreground would have been appreciated, but I shot this to show the concept, not win that Pulitzer I otherwise so richly deserve.
This agave/aloe/extra-terrestrial-on-a-bad-hair-day has out-of-focus elements near and far, isolating it visually and, thus, calling attention to it.
The jumble of green aspen leaves and stems serve, despite the jumble, to call attention to the brown leaf without distracting from it. They, instead, emphasize it while half obscuring it. Nice work.
A less-cluttered view of this government building would have been less interesting because the portions of the building are just repeating versions of elements we already see, and the yellow leaves tell us something of the season. Note how the visual wedge of the yellowed tree helps push our attention to the stone emblem. (I do wish those twigs poking in along the right edge were leafed…)
Quoting a Kodak Moment
George Eastman co-founded Kodak over a century ago, making what were called "dry plates," large-format glass photographic media, but cemented his company's name in history beginning with the Brownie cameras introduced in 1900 that used a flexible film and could be operated by the average Jane. Indeed, it was nearly 100 years before Steve Jobs envisioned a computer that was as easy to use as a toaster that George Eastman sought just that ease of use for cameras. "We were starting out to make photography an everyday affair. To make the camera as convenient as the pencil." And he pretty much did and had more to say on the subject.
Rattle & Hum?
I ask for feedback in every episode, at least I think I do, and this time I got some. Listener Gary Edwards wrote, "I took your advice to try a different take on composition using your extreme rule of thirds. I always leave room for the airplane to fly into, or the portrait subject to see into, in my compositions. I cropped this to have her eye inside the upper right third which put her looking out of the picture. Not the way I do things - but maybe this works. Leaving the viewer to ask what is beyond the frame that she is looking at. Different kind of statement. Have to ponder this. And your podcast got me to pondering a different approach. Successful in that way."
Above is the photograph he made. You can have your own opinion, of course, but I really like it — and I thank Gary for both trying and for sharing his thoughts and results. Photo © Gary Edwards.
That's a Wrap
Thanks for reading and, hopefully, also listening. These notes touch only the fringes of the podcast episode in audio. As I either ask, or at least I think I ask, please leave me feedback here or on iTunes, where you can subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already. Remember, it's completely free — subscribing just makes your access to available episodes easier.