Thursday 24 September 2009

LIFE Online

LIFE magazine has always had a special place in the history of photojournalism. During it's long history, the magazine employed some of the best photographers in the world, and as such, the photography was always one of the magazine's big strengths. Until now, finding issues of this classic magazine was difficult, but fortunately Google have recently scanned over 1800 issues of the magazine, dating from 1936 to 1972, and placed them all online to view.

Even seventy three years on from the very first issues, LIFE offers a superb reading experience. I have to admit that the 1930's and 1940's are my favourite eras of history, so that's where i started my viewing. The magazines from this period manage to pack in a good mix of human interest stories, fashion, world news, movie news and celebrity gossip. The adverts are also hugely entertaining. Keep an eye out for the surprisingly suggestive Chesterfield cigarette ads that feature regularly during the World War II years.

Google have done a great job here. The quality of the scans are excellent, capturing all the page detail of the originals. Flicking through the pages really does feel like travelling back in time, so much so that you can get quite caught up in the period. The superb LIFE magazine archive is well worth a visit if you're a photographer, budding historian or just crazy about old magazines.

The website can be found HERE

Sunday 20 September 2009

Autumn Light

Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk, UK - Summer 2008

The nights are getting much cooler and the large tree opposite my house has started to change colour, fiery reds and golden browns taking over from the luscious greens. The summer is coming to an end: Autumn is well on it's way.

The summer has been a bit of a washout for me. The seemingly constant overcast often stopped the wonderful rich golden summer light from shining through. This, combined with a few other factors, has resulted in a rather low level of personal project work this summer. Plans to shoot projects, add podcasting, add AudioBoo, etc, etc have all run into delays or problems.

I am, however, hoping to redeem myself with a few good projects over the final months of 2009. I've also got some exciting plans for 2010, but that's looking rather too far ahead. One project will involve doing a series of winter black and white landscapes - something I've never really tried doing before. I'm also have a winter seaside resort project idea. Both will be released as a free downloadable PDF book, the first of which will be near Christmas.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

The Great North Road

Ferrybridge Power Station, North Yorkshire, UK - Photograph by Phil Coomes

Nearly thirty years, photographer Paul Graham set out on a two year project to document the effects of the recession hitting early eighties Britain. Graham travelled along the A1 North Road, from London to Edinburgh, photographing the people and places along the way. His images created a lasting visual record of the economic and social state of Britain in the early 1980's.

Over the last few days, the BBC's Phil Coomes, who runs the beeb's Viewfinder photoblog, has been following a similar route to that taken by Paul Graham. The idea is to see how this current financial crisis is affecting people throughout the country. The photographs and stories that have been posted so far give a fascinating insight into how the credit crunch is hitting the average Brit.

The Viewfinder blog, complete with photographs and stories from the A1 - The Great North road trip, can be found HERE.

Paul Graham's original 1981-82 A1, the Great North Road project can be found HERE

Friday 11 September 2009

Lottery Leica

The Leica M9 Rangefinder Camera

The launch of the rather gorgeous Leica M9 this week has reminded me that i seriously need to start the process of purchasing a new digital camera within the next 18 months. With so much on offer, I'm definitely going to take my time picking and choosing. One thing i do know is that it won't be a Leica M9 which at a wallet shredding £4850, is a touch expensive unless i win the lottery at some point over the coming days and weeks.

I have a pretty good idea about the make and model that I'd like. Nikon, of course, but then things start to get rather more complicated. I have the choice of few cameras from the Nikon D3 through to a D300S, with a number of potential contenders in between. The bookies favourite is the D700 which has much of the functionality of the higher priced models at a cheaper price. I'd love to buy a Nikon D3 and D3X but the £8000+ price tag for both is making me quite dizzy just thinking about it. Yep, the D700 is definitely the front runner, but that isn't exactly cheap either.

I'll have to have a good think over the coming months and make a decision in 2010. By the time i make a decision, I'll probably be able to buy a Nikon D800X.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

The Regulars

Portrait of Robert Fleeger by Sarah Stolfa

This image is part of a series of photographs taken of regulars at McGlinchey's bar in Philadelphia. It's an inspired piece of work. I just love the simplicity of the setup that Sarah has utilized for shooting the photographs. The lighting (probably just a flashgun) is simple and straightforward, but most important of all, the portraits don't seem set up, contrived or false. What you see is what you get.

To see more of Sarah Stolfa's brilliant portraiture work click HERE

Found via Lenscratch

Sunday 6 September 2009

Tilt Shift

Traffic outside York Railway Station - May 2009

A few months ago, i heard of a website that helped you create the distinctive tilt shift miniature effect on ordinary images. Tilt shift can be achieved using lenses or large format cameras like monorail 5x4, and is often used in architectural photography for correcting perspectives. The lenses/large format technique can also have a lot of creative photography uses too.

The website is easy to use and lots of fun. Just make sure the photographs you upload aren't too big - image sizes of around 1024 x 768 are a good size to start with. A bit of time experimenting is often required and, as the tilt shift maker website comments, the choice of image needs to be right to get the best results:-

As you move to the top of the photo, the distance of objects in the photo should gradually become further away. For this reason, photos taken looking down at an angle to a scene often make good tilt-shift miniatures, because they have a good mix of objects at different distances. We want to give the illusion of focusing the camera at a very specific distance, so having good depth in the photo is important.

The Tilt Shift Maker website can be found at:-

Saturday 5 September 2009

Website Gremlins

Running your own website is full of great moments. There are also some terrifying moments when you realise that all the hard work you've put in over several months has been lost. I nearly had one of those moments on Thursday afternoon.

It started well enough. A number of small website changes had been done and i was trying to output the webpages so they could be uploaded to the server. A problem suddenly appeared. The pages weren't displaying properly because, according to the software, the style sheet file that controlled the websites text and layout was missing. After a good few hours messing tweaking here there and everywhere, i finally managed to solve the problem. Phew!

A ticked box. Just the simple ticking of a box in the software, which i thought would benefit my webpages, had caused ALL my problems. Like many problems in life, I thought my technical gremlins were far more complicated than they actually were.