pjhstudios blog

Processed war photography


Brian Barrel of Gizmodo spots Hipstamatic photos on the NY Times front page.

When NYT photog Damon Winter went to northern Afghanistan to catalog the efforts of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division, he took all the fancy camera equipment you would expect. He’d shoot video of firefights with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, sure. But he also grabbed still photos using Hipstamatic, an app that lets you choose among a huge selection of filters…

As he notes, this isn’t the first time a Hipstamatic photograph has been published by a major publication. The publishing of such photos is significant for the following reasons:

  • It’s not the gear you have, it’s the gear you have at the time.
  • Editorializing/editing of photos for publication

Chase Jarvis preaches that The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You. Sure, you can lug two Canon 5Ds, one with a 35mm prime and another with a 28-200mm 2.8 zoom, and with that weight you’re going to get quality shots. But the iPhone (and other cell phone cameras) with various apps for editing and processing photos, is making the investment in gear moot. In the case of war photography, the thought of a photographer following a platoon with only an iPhone seems comical, however, in a connected era, telling the story as it happens or as soon as it happens becomes paramount. The work flow–take picture, edit as needed, upload to photo desk–to do this now can happen in minutes. Photographers of the Civil War didn’t have that work flow capability.

The instant work flow, coupled with the photo editing apps in an iPhone, a photographer can file a photo that has a distinct, editorial feel. Photographers who know their craft can capture photos in camera without any editing, but normally, photos edited beyond basic cropping and dodging and burning receive the note “photo illustration.” So what’s being illustrated? The story or what photographer or the editor wants the story to be or the reader to feel? This is a tricky line, a line that photojournalism has always run against. Photography is an art to evoke feeling, and photojournalism is an art to capture events to evoke feeling. As one Gizmodo commenter, OrtizDupri, states,

I can guarantee you, nothing I saw in my 16 months in Iraq looked like the view through a Lomo or Holga camera. The reality of war isn’t meant to be vintage colors and soft edges.

Fine Art Photography: Water, Ice and Fog


Fine Art Photography: Water, Ice and Fog by Tony Sweet showcases photographs of of water in its three states. Yes, there are great shots, but this book is a how-to book. Sweet discusses the composition of the shot and the elements of photography that went into it. What lens was used, at what aperture, at what time of day with what filter. His writing style is direct and to the point and instructional. Novices and advanced photographers should be able to get something out of this book.

Andrew Shaylor’s Hells Angels Motorcycle Club


Andrew Shaylor a United Kingdom based photographer released a book entitled, Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. It attempts to document the life of the club beyond its image as rough, gritty bikers. Given access to meeting rooms, Hells Angels events and pictures of members’ bikes, it humanizes the group as a bunch of guys, hanging out and riding motorcycles.

Most members are over 30 and appearances are world weary. Shaylor comments that the group prefers new members have life experience before joining, and for a lot, it shows. Leathered faces, deep creases and graying hair. Toothy grins and countless tattoos.

The tattoos. The death head varies from chapter to chapter and can only be worn by a member in good standing. Many get the death head, in some form, tattooed on their body–signifying their commitment for life.

Interspersed between the portraits, Shaylor showcases life as a member. These shots mostly come across as snapshots or vacation photos. Hells Angels life is just as candid as a drunken frat party, too. At the end, and it seems random and I’m not sure if they add context, but Shaylor included portraits of members’ families–wives, sons, daughters, girlfriends. I suppose, they’re normal too.

The subjects all reside in the UK. If you expected the more famous California Sonny Barger Hells Angels, you’d be disappointed. But would those portraits be any different?

Light painting with an iPad


To do light painting well, it takes , planning, coordination and patience. Achieved with long exposures and a bright, glowing source of light moving in front of a camera, cool things can happen. But what if you could program your light source to emit patterns of light? That’s about what you get below.

Making Future Magic: iPad light painting from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

Extreme Photography


Extreme Photography: The Hottest, Coldest, Fastest, Slowest, Nearest, Farthest, Brightest, Darkest, Largest, Smallest, Weirdest Images in the Universe… shows the physical and technological limits of photography. From volcanoes, Antarctic exhibitions, outer space, thermal, infrared, x-ray, MRI, examples are given as to the potential of the application, its practicality and a little bit of how-to thrown into the mix.

Ones and zeros are free


On the plane this weekend, I watched David Hobby’s photo lighting seminar from his Lighting 102 material for Strobist.com.  At one point he’s explaining that you don’t have to get the right exposure, and sometimes it takes some fiddling to get the proper combined flash and ambient exposure.  You may need to take more than one shot, he says. With this digital stuff,

Ones and zeros are free.

So true.

Take as many pictures as you can.  Often, I see people take a picture, look at it, and not be totally satisfied with what they took and accept mediocrity.  If they took a few more shots, they might take one they actually enjoy.  Digital photography and cameras these days are limited by two things: the size of the memory card and the person taking the picture.  The former is a scarcity of space for those ones and zeroes, and the other is a scarcity of effort.

Coordinated camera flashes at a concert


At concerts, the pop of a camera flash is constant. You see it on TV at the Super Bowl or some other event. At a Robbie Williams concert, for a Nikon ad, he called upon the crowd to raise their cameras and take a picture. The result:

Dennis Hopper – Bucharest Nights


Eccentric and edgy Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper avidly collected art, and photography was a lifelong active hobby. In 2005, he published Bucharest Nights, a collection of “digital paintings” at night with a digital camera. The majority of the images are ghostly and ethereal. Stark figures in golden tones against a black backdrop, light trails down a street, neon glows from a casino. A few are stunning but for the most part the book contains good pictures that work better on a whole as a body of work. The random photos of naked women taken with film, jarringly contrasts the preceding 30 or so pictures as if you were listening to soft trance music and someone turned on a buzz saw.

Click: The Ultimate Photography Guide for Generation Now


Charlie Styr published Click: The Ultimate Photography Guide for Generation Now using pictures from the Flickr Teenage Photography group. It’s aimed at the beginner or wanna-be-a-little-bit-cooler-by-by-taking-cool-pictures photographers. It’s balanced covering all the essential photography topics-exposure, aperture, shutter speed, light, composition, etc. It goes a little further with the example photos and includes camera settings. This comes in handy when wanting to figure out techniques specific to certain situations, such as macro, low-light, creating light trails or portraits.

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