Page 1

photocomment

MAY 2009 RSA R12.50


contents Editor’s Comment

4

Readers Comments

4

Cover Image: Brett David Steele

MAY 2009

We want to hear from you magazine@photocomment.net

Scoop

6

Professional Portfolio

Kim Ludbrook

All about what is happening in the photographic world locally and internationally

8

Kim Ludbrook

Technique

12

Fun Photography

Review

18

Sony HX-1

Student Portfolio

20

Brett David Steele

Final Comment

24

photocomment

Š 2009

International and local Intellectual Property and Copyright laws protect all material (text, images, photographs, graphics, software and icons) used herein. You are only permitted to download, copy or print this on-line publication or any features there from for personal, instructional and non-commercial use.

Whilst all care and attention is employed to ensure the legitimacy, accuracy and correctness of the information, data, texts, images, ideas, photographs and opinions expressed herein, PHOTOCOMMENT cannot be held responsible or liable in any way whatsoever for the content as it appears herein. Similarly, PHOTOCOMMENT makes no express or implied warranty or representation as to the proprietorship or intellectual property inherent in the images and photographs published herein and which it has commissioned for use from external sources on good faith dealing. Accordingly, PHOTOCOMMENT is hereby indemnified, defended and held harmless against all claims, liability, damages, costs and expenses in regard thereto.


Editor’s Comment

P

hotoComment is all about fun this month and

our featured student for the month and we ask him about

although we do get seriously serious with our featured

his thoughts and feelings about the situation in his country

professional photographer, Kim Ludbrook, who are we to

of origins Zimbabwe. Our reader’s portfolio cupboards are

say what is fun and what isn’t.

bare and we invite our readers to submit their portfolios to

We throw cameras and paint caricatures into photographic

be published. Relax and enjoy our May edition and as

scenes throw more cameras and perceptions out the

always we invite your compliments and in the unlikely

window, all in the glorious name of FUN. We also bring

event of complaints we invite that to.

you a review in true PhotoComment style about the Sony HX1 and its panoramic stitching capabilities. Our Scoop

Read relax but above all be inspired and have fun. That’s

pages are choc-a-block with new exhibitions, websites,

an order

camera and lens releases, competitions, new news slightly

The Editor- Wilhelmus Moller

older news and cameras that you can print from your desktop printer. Kim Ludbrook talks to us about the nature of photojournalism; how it can positively affect a world in turmoil and the personal rewards involved. Brett Steele is

Late Comment

R

egrettably here at PhotoComment we are also fallible and we let a spelling error slip through the

cracks in last months issue. We apologise to Hansie Oosthuizen for misspelling his surname in the article about him. We managed to correct the mistake and we apologise to Hansie for the oversight. The PhotoComment Team Wilhelmus Moller, Tristan Hall, Greg Wrench

The Editor- Wilhelmus Moller

Readers Comments

I

We welcome feedback about what you think of

article was really interesting. It was great to be able to look at all

PhotoComment Magazine. Your stories, experiences,

the great images and actually read about photography without it

questions, inspirations, are all welcome and can be sent to

being so technical and confusing, so thanks for that! Do you have

magazine@photocomment.net enter “Letters” as the

a Facebook page for it or anything like that, so I can stay updated

subject. Each month we will publish some of your

on Photocomment?

feedback.

Thank you so much!

checked out Photocomment the other day and really loved it!

The pictorial of the immigrants was so captivating, and your

Caroline Jordan

Win Stand a chance to win by contributing to our Readers Letters section. Camera Stabilising Bag sponsored by Tandem Focus Distributors

PC: Thank you for the feedback Caroline. You are able to keep up

TANDEM

to date with PhotoComment on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr by simply punching in PhotoComment on the various search bars. The PhotoComment team will be in touch with you to have your Camera Stabilising Bag prize, courtesy of Tandem Focus, sent to you.


Photography Mentor www.photographymentor.com is a brilliant website for anyone needing to improve their photography or get taught from scratch.

Photographic Competition The CFPA (China Folklore Photographic association), UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation), and GAGOC (Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee) bring you the Humanity Photo Award (HPA), the only worldwide folklore photo contest. It is aimed at everyone who loves different cultures and rumor has it that South Africa is not yet represented. The deadline is tight (25th

Photography Mentor rightly states that their goal is to inspire, educate and motivate. It is a social network much like Facebook that incorporates a photography school taught by practicing professional photographers. The Photography lessons, podcasts and videos are downloadable to your i-Pod and PC hard drive. They ask an annual joining fee and one can purchase a wide variety of educational DVD’s from their student store. A site well worth surfing.

of May 2009) so get up and get shooting. In addition to the contest, CFPA will organize a folklore exhibition in the

“When Photographing – and in life- don’t be limited by your

Guangzhou Asian Village for the 16th Asian Games. Read

height. Bend your knees for it is often on your knees that you can

more about the HPA on the web http://www.china-

find an answer and a different point of view.” - Editor.

fpa.org/en/index.asp

Megapixel Race Las Vegas - Olympus has declared an end to the megapixel race. Recently at PMA, Akira Watanabe, manager of Olympus Imaging's SLR planning department said: "Twelve megapixels is, I think, enough for covering most applications most customers need," Instead, He added: “Olympus will focus on other characteristics such as dynamic range, color reproduction, and a better ISO range for low-light shooting.” Who would have thought that some one would have the courage to say what most of us have known all along about pixel pushing? Read the full story and Watanabe’s prediction about auto focus systems in the future on the PhotoComment website.

Print your own pinhole camera Now this is fun incarnate. Two websites that offer you, the intrepid explorer of photographic possibility, downloadable PDF plans to construct your very own paper pinhole camera from rigid paper for 35mm film. It’s free and its fun but if you

New Nikon D5000

really feel the need to spend money on a paper pinhole camera

We got the chance to spend a few minutes with the Nikon D5000

then Lomo offer you the Hole-On-Ex. A pencil, bottle of glue,

the day after its launch. With the same 12mp CMOS sensor as

ruler and scissors are the only items that stand between you

the D90 and the 720p HD Video functionality too, the D5000 is

and pinhole heaven. Read more about these exciting cameras

set to take on the Canon EOS 500D, reported on last month, in a

on www.pinhole.cz/en/pinholecameras and

big way. Stocks land beginning of May '09 and will retail around

www.corbis.readymech.com.

R11500.00 with the 18-55mm VR lens.


New Nikon 10-24mm DX

Pulitzer Prize

Along with the announcement of the

A Pulitzer Prize (and ten thousand US

Nikon D5000 was that of the new Nikon

dollars) was awarded to Patrick Farrell of

10-24mm f3.5-4.5 AF-S DX which may

The Miami Herald in the Breaking News

(though we have yet to confirm this with

Photography category, for his provocative

Nikon) replace the not as wide 12-24mm

images of despair after Hurricane Ike and

DX that has for some time now fallen

other lethal storms caused a humanitarian

into the place of second choice to Sigma's

disaster in Haiti. See these amazing

10-24mm. We have yet to confirm the

images on the web at

price but expect to pay about the same as

Galleries

www.pixcetera.com/pixcetera/2009-

the current 12-24mm DX. The Nikon 10-

If you are a keen Lomographer then don’t

pulitzer-prize-winner-breaking-

24mm will be available in May ‘09.

miss out on The Exposure Gallery in

news/55079. Also nominated as finalists

Cape Town. Exposure Gallery is closely

in the breaking news photography

affiliated with Thupelo GreatMore

category were: Associated Press Staff for

“Seeing, in the finest and broadest sense,

Studios just down the road from them in

their coverage of the earthquake in

means using your senses, your intellect,

Cape Town. Exposure gallery is a

Sichuan, China and Carolyn Cole of the

and your emotions. It means encountering

photographic concept store and a

Los Angeles Times for her coverage of

your subject matter with your whole

platform for photographic inspirational

political violence in Kenya. A Pulitzer

being. It means looking beyond the labels

products, photographic artists, and avant-

Prize was also awarded to Damon Winter

of things and discovering the remarkable

garde photographic concepts. Exposure

of The New York Times for his of photo

world around you.” Freeman Patterson

Gallery and Greatmore Studios host

essay capturing multiple facets of Barack

regular photographic exhibitions

Obama’s presidential campaign. Also

Exhibitions

promoting South African photographers

nominated as finalists in the feature

MOLO LOMO a Lomographic exhibition

and also providing up and coming

photography category were Carol Guzy

at Greatmore Art Studios in Cape Town

photographers with a platform to expose

of The Washington Post for her coverage

opened in April and is up for another

their art to the buying public. Greatmore

of the perils and sorrow of childbirth in

week. The exciting new exhibition by 8

Studios is an established art space located

Sierra Leone and Sonya Hebert of The

young artists is of the Lomographic

in Greatmore Street, Woodstock.

Dallas Morning News for her empathetic

genre, a new take on an old style of

Greatmore studios provide studio space,

portrait of terminally ill patients in a

analogue photography. Eight individuals

gallery space and a well-equipped

Texas medical centre. The winners of the

were given the opportunity to experience

printmaking studio to local and

various categories of this prestigious and

and explore Lomography during a three-

international artists.

well-respected prize were announced at

week introductory mentoring workshop

Greatmore Studios are open to the public:

Columbia University on the 20th of April

and the tangible result there of is the

Mon-Thurs 10am-3pm Fri 10am-12pm

and winners usually attend an annual

MOLO LOMO exhibition. The word

and is located in 47-49 Greatmore Street

Pulitzer Prize luncheon to receive their

MOLO means Hello in Xhosa and is used

Woodstock Cape Town + 27 (0) 21 447

medals certificates and cheques at

to welcome the audience to the wonderful

9699 http://www.greatmoreart.org and

Columbia University.

world of Lomography. The eight artists

Exposure gallery is in Mill street Shop

Read more about the Pulitzer Prize it’s

from very diverse backgrounds are: Janet

E101, The Old Biscuit Mill Cape Town

history and the winners on the web at

Botes, Nicholas Coutts, Tess Dmitrovsky,

+27 (0) 21 447 4124

www.pulitzer.org/

Siyabulela Gxekwa, Ali Jacobs, Alex

So if you are looking for a local platform

Mamacos, Motsamai Moloi, Esti

the exhibit your Lomography, contact the

Strydom. For more information call Kate

friendly staff at the Exposure Gallery or

at Greatmore Studios at 021 447 9699

Greatmore Studios.


PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO


KIM LUDBROOK

K

im Ludbrook is the regional photo editor in Africa for international news agency, EPA (European press photo

agency). His responsibilities include daily photo coverage, budgets, office and staff management, assignment planning and the covering of major news, features and sports events, both in Africa and internationally. On the news front, he has recently covered the inauguration of US President, Barrack Obama, the coup in Madagascar, 2008 xenophobia attacks in South Africa, 2008 Kenya post election violence, the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Charles Taylor in Liberia, the aftermath of the 2005 Asian Tsunami, as well as various elections and resulting unrest in numerous failing African states. On the sports front he has covered the Euro 2008 soccer, 2006 FIFA World Cup in

Q: What is the most uplifting and triumphant story you have

Germany, the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, The 2003

ever covered?

cricket World Cup in South Africa, World Cup Swimming,

A: “After 15 years of working as a newspaper and news

MotoGP, President's Cup golf, International rugby, All Africa

agency photographer there have been many uplifting stories

Games and many more.

but one that seems clearer than others is shooting a photo

Kim has also held various solo photo exhibitions including

essay on Clowns Without Borders. They are a non-profit

'Bikers', 'Sub cultures' and 'Mandela Portraits'. He has had

organisation of clowns who travel to war zones, rural areas

photographs included in pre-eminent photography books

and conflict zones brining smiles to the faces of children. On

including 'Day in the Life of Africa' and 'Moments in time'.

this assignment they were based in Lesotho in mid winter and

Kim has published calendars and has featured in various

were brining fun and smiles to the faces of children in

photography magazines while also lecturing a class on

hospitals and rural areas in Lesotho.”

photojournalism at the Market Photo workshop in Newtown (Johannesburg). Some of his accolades and photographic

Q: What is the worst story you have ever covered?

awards include Fuji South African Press photographer of the

A: “The burning to death of a Mozambican national on the

year, (Fuji Press photographer of the year) sports portfolio,

east rand in May 2008 at the hands of South Africans during

news portfolio and photo essay. See more of Kim’s truly

the xenophobia attacks. Humans should not behave like this

inspirational photojournalism on the web at

and the end to his life will never leave my memory.”

www.kimludbrook.com or just read your local newspaper to see how good photojournalism can affect the world positively

Q: Has photojournalism affected your view of life?

by informing the masses.

A: “Very much so. It would be impossible to travel and see what a photojournalist absorbs without those millions of moments affecting one's life in some way. This may vary from the celebration of humanity to the depths of despair to witness how humans can treat each other. There is also a sense that seeing too much of life can leave a permanent scar on your soul. That said, I have lived a champagne life style on a beer salary and the love of walking down an alley in a city you have never been to with a camera around your neck looking for images, observing life around you and waiting for the good light still drives me forward.”


PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO Q: Do you get personally involved with your subjects and the situation or do you need to detach yourself and stay objective? A: “This is a very difficult question to answer. I have tried to maintain the viewpoint that I am simply a recorder of life in front of my camera therefore trying not to get personally involved. The truth is; I am still a human and therefore there are situations where one can simply not maintain the approach of keeping yourself detached from the drama in front of you.” Q: Do you photograph any other genre in your personal capacity or are your personal projects also of a photo journalistic nature? A: “I tend to remain a photojournalist as other forms of photography are not real enough for me and the concept of art is not an attraction. I have always been interested in other people’s lives and in particular those of human subculture's so my private work tends to resemble those subjects. I have however, turned to portraiture of a journalistic nature as a counter balance to my news work.” Q: Is there anyone in particular that is your driving force? A: “There have been various editors and photographers through my career who have helped me and guided my work. I do gain inspiration from simply loving what I do and waking up each day hoping to shoot the best images I have ever shot that day.” Q: What plans do you have for the future? A: “In the immediate future I am helping to organize the

Q: Has your family ever insisted that you pursue a safer line of

agency’s coverage of the FIFA 2010 world cup involving 45

work?

photographers and editors. In the long term I would like to

A: “No, I married the right women:)!”

learn how to create video documentaries and news coverage with the Canon 5D Mark II. This is the future of news agency

Q: Do you pursue visual impact or idealism?

photography!”

A: “Visual impact with a strong story telling content and above all, emotion. If an image does not evoke emotion in a viewer, good or bad, it has failed as a two dimensional communication tool.” Q: What is the secret to an excellent front cover photo luck or preparation and intuition? A: “You make your own luck but in my experience hard work has a lot to do with it. The news waits for nobody so preparation, intuition and knowing when the moment will happen are vital.” [o] Wilhelmus Moller


KIM LUDBROOK


H

uses for usual cameras and some down right camera unfriendly techniques.

We will get the ball rolling and amongst others we do a bit of photo light sculpting. We will be suggesting a few unusual

Light Sculpting If you are not already familiar with long exposures you can read more about it in our March issue because you are going to need that knowledge to do light sculpting. Light sculpting involves forming shapes and figures on the light sensitive surface of your camera by means of a light source like a flashlight (torch not flash) or LED headlamp during a long exposure. Your imagination is the limit here and some

ave your images become mundane and common placed with little or no distinction from your friends or competitors? Then embrace the archaic and obscure concept of Fun. PhotoComment cannot guarantee that Fun will ensure you more business but it will improve your mood and general disposition. So in the spirit of innovation PhotoComment invites you the reader to wow us with a new and innovating style of photography. There are no rules except to break the rules (and perhaps the camera) and it has to be FUN.


practitioners of light sculpting manage to produce complex scenes within a static landscape or cityscape. The process needs a few essentials like a tripod, a camera with exposure times in minutes or a bulb function, static but interesting background scenes, a cable release and your LED light source. Empty parking lots, parks, buildings and skateboard arcades are just some of the places that offer infinite possibility. The basic procedure is to set up the camera on a tripod and compose and focus the scene. Start with an exposure time that leaves one enough time to form the shape or figure in the scene. (12 to 45 seconds at f 8 100 ISO is a good starting point for the light sculpt but additional exposure time might be

required to properly expose the background) Pre plan your movements in the scene so that you don’t overshoot the scene. Stickmen, skateboarders, short messages and all sorts of figures are possible and one can endeavour to have the figures fit the theme of the background or simply juxtapose the background. Tips and Tricks. You can make the process of writing words easier by writing normally from left to right and then flipping the word in Photoshop. Shooting out of focus adds another dimension as it seems to


give the word, shape or figure more ‘meat’ and errors are less visible. It will however make the rest of the scene blurry so apply the next trick. Shoot a background plate at the correct exposure and in focus then the light sculpting scene separate taking care not to move the tripod or change the perspective. During postproduction the two scenes should sandwich perfectly on top of each other. Do the light sculpting then leave the shutter open for a bit longer to expose the rest of the scene.

Camera Tossing. Camera tossing was mentioned in our scoop feature last month and besides an old camera that will take a bit of a beating; camera tossing also requires a lot more speed than light sculpting. Simply load a film camera with inexpensive film. (Digital compacts and cellular phone cameras yield very unique results indeed and can be successfully employed in camera tossing but bear the cost in mind if you drop it) Set a slow shutter speed and a small aperture and throw your camera into the air. See easy. Cameras in the Lomography category like the Holga medium format or the Holga 35mm are cheap


take a beating and have all the necessary features for camera tossing. Cycle Cam Here is an exciting prospect for those among you that cycle. Purchase the cheapest compact fixed focus film camera new or second hand that you can find, modify and attach it to your bicycle handle bars or the front fork and shoot either with a modified cable release from the forks or normally from the handle bars. You will be surprised at the results when cycling in a group. A camera with manual exposure function opens up another realm of possibility for action shots. [o]


Readers Portfolio This is your chance to get your images published. For each issue we (the editors assisted by a panel of industry leading photographers) will choose a reader's portfolio that inspires and celebrates the art and craft of photography best for that month. You stand a chance to win a prize from SONY, one of our advertisers, should your portfolio be published. Include a selfportrait accompanied with a brief introduction of yourself, your style and your philosophy. Send us no more than 10 of your best images with your contact details to magazine@photocomment.net enter “Readers Portfolio� as the subject. Make sure the images are in JPEG format and no larger than 640x480 (or closest too), we will contact you for larger files if needed. Needless to say that the standard will be high and uncompromising so please put your best foot forward.

Keith Groenewald

Prize

1 x Laptop Sleeve 1 x SONY ALPHA Lens Book 1 x Memory Card Pouch 1 x Rain umbrella All branded SONY ALPHA


ADVERTORIAL

C

amera Club is an exciting online club aimed at everybody with an interest in photography. Camera Club offers amateurs and professionals an opportunity to view, download and share in the wonders of captured light! Started in 2001 by David Knox-Whitehead and Sean Stanton, Camera Club has grown steadily and today the newsletter goes out to over 1,000 photography enthusiasts. Camera Club runs two photo competitions. One has a specific theme and the other is open to any subject matter. Camera Club’s judges choose the

open competition winner while the Camera Club members themselves vote for the theme winner. A new image is displayed on the Camera Club website daily. The images are chosen from the entries to the competitions. Members are able to comment on each others' photos making it a great place to improve your photographic skills! Camera Club membership is free and is open to all South African photographers. For more information, visit the Camera Club website www.cameraclub.co.za.

ADVERTORIAL

Above Left: Motherly Love by Joan Whittingham Winner “Pet Pics” Competition Above Right: Dragonfly by Madelene de Jager Winner “Bug’s Life” Competition Left: Juvenile Malachite by Willem van der Post Winner February Photo Competition Below Left: Balance Stand by Cas Pretorius Below Right: Pollen Carrier by Cas Pretorius Cas Pretorius is currently the top contributor on the hall of fame page


REVIEW

SONY CYBERSHOT HX-1 A

nnounced at PMA in February the new Cybershot HX-1 is a break in tradition for Sony and the Cybershot range. We have become accustomed to the Cybershot badge carrying along side it the Carl Zeiss badge and for those in the know, this has swung many a sale in the favour of Sony when they could not decide on what camera to buy.

would have been any better had they put the Ziess badge on the camera instead. As many of you are aware, at PhotoComment we tend to stay away from deeply technical reviews, there are enough to go around on the web, so we will be looking at the camera from a more practical perspective and tell you what we thought of it.

With the HX-1 this has changed and for the first time Sony have implemented a 'G' series lens on this addition to the family. Many fear that this will degrade the quality of the camera, making it inferior to its predecessors. This could not be further from the truth. Sony’s G type lenses have been around since before Sony took over Konica Minolta and much of the design technology in the G series lenses came from Minolta's partnership with Leica meaning that the G series lenses are still among the best.

I am not a big hybrid camera fan and often feel that one can buy a SLR for the same price of a hybrid hyper-zoom camera, but this camera has rocked my perception a little. The HX-1 feels comfortable in your hands and is not overly cumbersome, with a wonderfully agreeable large and bright flip screen that moves up and down left and right with ease.

However this review is not about a history in lens design, the point here is that the 20x G lens on the new HX-1 is good really good and I doubt it

The controls are well laid out with a faster than expected shutter lag. (It is however still not as quick as an SLR.) The images are crisp and generally

well exposed even in some tricky lighting situations.

Handling & Performance Fascinating Functions The HX-1 has some functions worth highlighting that Sony has implemented with success and that sets it apart from its competitors. Panorama The HX1’s claim to fame is its new sweep (panning) panoramic function that eliminates the need for stitching multiple images together later. Simply switch the camera into the panoramic function and pan in the direction of the


SONY CYBERSHOT HX-1

arrow, which appears once you half de-press the shutter button. Make sure your movements are smooth otherwise you get some funny looking in camera stitching. High Speed Continuous Not very common among compact cameras the Sony HX-1 allows one to shoot a continuous burst of ten frames a second. One step away from a film camera it is a feature we didn’t pay much attention to because of the next feature. HD Video The HX1 would not be complete if it did not come out sporting 1080P High Definition video with the added benefit of stereo sound recoding. If you are already the proud owner of a Sony Home theater system anything you record will play back beautifully on a HD Bravia screen.

Conclusion What are the final thoughts on this camera? Well as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I have never been a big fan of hybrid cameras, and I’m not advocating them now, but the HX1 has changed my outlook on this market segment. This camera offers an impressive range of 26mm-580mm 35mm zoom equivalent range in a compact, comfortable, easy to use body. Image quality is great and my only reservation is the suggested retail price of R7500.00, which might still swing you to a DSLR if better image quality is important to you.


STUDENT PORTFOLIO


BRETT DAVID STEELE Words by Maryke White

H

arare born (1981) Photographer

Q: Do any iconic photographers

Brett David Steele says that

inspire you in your photography?

unlike others there is no epic tale

A: “Yes, I find the work of Sante

attached to his photographic journey.

D'Orazio to be inspirational in every

“I just woke up one day and felt the

way. He has a wonderfully natural way

need to create something.” Walking

of working with people. This is

around with his camera strapped over

immediately apparent through his

his shoulder, he is now obsessed with

amazing portraits. Another person who

capturing the moment. Brett is

inspires me a great deal is German

currently doing his 3rd year at TUT

photographer Michael G. Magin.”

and wishes to specialize in social documentary work.

Q: What was the first memorable ‘something’ you created after your

Q: What did you do before you started

awakening?

to photograph?

A: “The first time I ever photographed

A: “I wondered the planet aimlessly

with the conscious intention of

looking for Llamas to herd! Jokes

creating something was on Christmas

window. I have never forgotten that

aside, I worked in a number of

day 2005. I was driving back after

moment, and have the photograph to

professions from Information

having lunch with my parents and I

this day.”

Technology to Sales and Graphic

photographed a single bird sitting on

Design.”

a telephone wire, through the car

Q: From your heart not from the


STUDENT PORTFOLIO

BRETT DAVID STEELE dictionary, please define a moment in a photographic context. A: “The moment when a photograph records something unique, something custom made from a world of infinite possibilities.” Q: MountainDew or Lemontwist? A: “Apparently Black Label is known as the Pepsi of Soweto! What was the question? Oh, MountainDew for sure!” Q: Will you return to Zimbabwe as a photojournalist in the hope of exposing the injustice that we only hear of? A: “I would be back there in an instant if it was possible. Right now, if I were a privately funded journalistic photographer in Zimbabwe, I would fear for my life. Ideally I would want the backing of a large organization such as The United Nations before embarking on an onerous task such as this.” [o] Wilhelmus Moller


>> next frame photocomment Coming in June - Stories Beyond The Lens: The Impact Of Photo Essays - Review: Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX Lens - More Portfolios To Inspire


Final Comment * By Tristan Hall

The Camera Never Lies?

I

recall in the earlier days of digital photography, when a compact camera cost what a mid range DSLR does today, working along side a gentleman who would say: “It just isn't true anymore that the camera never lies. It does! And it does so rather eloquently.” While at the time the functionality of the digital camera was limited and so too the ability to alter images, the rapid growth of Photoshop users began a trend of image alteration that leaves us today questioning the truthfulness of the images we see. As an avid listener of the podcast TWIP (This Week In Photography - http://www.twiplog.com/) I was intrigued when this topic was discussed in an interview conducted with Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir, who shot to stardom in the photographic world due to her amazing images on Flickr. In her interview with TWIP she discussed the fact that when people see an amazing image they automatically jump to the conclusion that it was all done in Photoshop. As an example she used a self-portrait she photographed, where an apple 'hovers' in mid air in front of her. She was criticized severely for stating that no Photoshop was used to achieve the image when in fact it was the truth. If one truly understands the function of shutter speeds one will know that an apple can be

tossed into the air and appear frozen there in the final image. Where is the manipulation in that? Now image manipulation is under an even greater spotlight with campaigns being launched across the globe to pressurize cosmetics and other companies into showing 'touch ups' made on photographs of models. While advertisers use the ‘touch ups’ to boost consumer confidence in the product many people are often left feeling less than adequate because of the perfect ideal created by the image. The campaign aims to restore people’s self-confidence by showing the models before any touch ups were done. As an example, in parts of Europe a cosmetics advert will appear on the first page of a magazine and the following page will have the same image before the 'touch up'. In fact, the second image will often be shown with the Photoshop tool bars around it and sometimes pointers to show where and what tools where used. There are however, areas in photography where manipulation has been highly criticized and is seldom if ever used because on the’ occasions that manipulation has been used the uproar has been tremendous. Photojournalism and documentary photography are genres that we cannot afford for the camera to be untrue, nor should it, for it would bring the credibility of an industry of facts into disrepute. With more and more news worthy pictures coming from citizens and their cellular phones or compact cameras, one has to wonder if the same standards will be applied? Are these images screened for authenticity? Can we trust all we see the further we move into the future? The question one really needs to ask is where the boundary for image manipulation should be drawn and if a boundary should be drawn at all? At what point does craftsmanship move beyond the realm of true photographic art into digital art? Should there be any distinction between the two? Send your thoughts to magazine@photocomment.net


PhotoComment May 2009  

South African Based Photographic Magazine

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