August 25th, 2010

A whole bunch of reading

It’s amazing how much passes you by when you go away for a few weeks. Just now managing to catch up on some links I saved for reading later, which may be of interest:

The LA Times launched a new photo blog called Framework

5DtoRGB – A free professional transcoding application for Mac that claims to do better quality transcoding than Canon’s E1 plugin, albeit slower I think

Came across an old post on the ProLost blog about the advantages of using a flat, low-contrast, low-sharpness picture style for video-shooting on the Canon 5D MkII

Stuart Freedman wrote an interesting piece on the EPUK site about the state of photojournalism and professional ethics

Reporters without Borders updated its Handbook for Journalists – “for those going to dangerous parts of the world, listing international norms protecting them and containing practical advice on how to stay alive and safe”

VTZilla – a useful Firefox plugin that can be used to scan files on the internet against viruses and malware – before you download them

The Planet5D site launched an HDSLR news aggregator page showing lots of links to DSLR news from other sites on a single page

10,000 words published a list of 11 top news photoblogs

Photojournalist Zed Nelson gave a fascinating interview about his life and work to the UK’s Professional Photographer magazine

The Plymouth Herald in the UK came up with a clever strategic response to a ban on all media photographers at their local football club. Also see here

The Camera+ iPhone app introduced a great feature to use the volume button as a shutter button to take pictures on your iPhone, and was swiftly followed by Apple pulling the app for potentially “resulting in user confusion”. Jeez… Does anyone know a currently-working way to have this function, without jailbreaking?

Norwegian cameraman/journalist Paul Refsdal wrote an interesting article on the NYTimes Lede blog about embedding with the Taliban – a one-stop shop for converting audio, videos, images, documents, & ebooks between different formats without the need to install software

For those interested in Egypt, the Economist wrote a whole bunch of special features examining the current state of the country:
Thank you and goodbye – For good or ill, change is coming to Egypt and Saudi Arabia soon
America’s lieutenant – But Egypt’s role as a regional peacekeeper is getting harder to sustain
A slow learning curve – A rotten education system lets the country down
No paradise – Most Egyptians put up with a lot
Saving faith – Islam seems to be fading as a revolutionary force
After Mubarak -Change is bound to come, but when?

The last NCTJ photojournalism course in the UK closed down. I did this course in Sheffield before starting my career, and it’s a sad day. I wish the course’s head Paul Delmar – the source and subject of some legendary stories surely known to all who passed through there, all the best for his retirement.

July 15th, 2010

Conflict in Pink

Posted by Ben in Africa, Photojournalism

What if conflict wasn’t always in khaki, but pink? Check out this series of photos by Richard Mosse from Eastern Congo shot using Kodak Aerochrome infrared-sensitive, false-color reversal film… Very strange and beautiful…

See also the New Yorker and DVAFoto articles on this.

[Via Scarlett Lion]

May 6th, 2010

Apple iPad for Photographers

Photographer Dan Carr has written a very interesting post summarizing the uses, or not, that the Apple iPad might have for professional photographers.

For more on this subject see Rob Galbraith’s review of Shuttersnitch iPhone/iPad software, discussion of the iPad in the Photo Mechanic forums, and some posts here, here, here and here in the Cinema5D forums.

November 19th, 2009

Future of “the media”

David Campbell, professor of cultural and political geography at Durham University in the UK and associated with the Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies, writes one of the smartest analyses I’ve recently read on the future of the media and photography. His essay titled “Revolutions in the media economy” comes in four parts:

1. The Context of Crisis
2. The Changing Structure of Information
3. Photojournalism’s futures
4. Disturbing the University

If you’re mainly interested in the media you can probably skip part 4, but the rest is well worth a read if you want an idea of the issues currently facing journalism, some of the solutions, and particularly are wondering how the hell it’s all going to be paid for.

September 28th, 2009

JR’s “Women are Heroes” in Kibera

by JR

I’ve written previously about JR’s projects in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly makes his work appealing, but I just think it’s pretty cool. There’s now a rather-nicely shot video clip of his work – make sure you watch it fullscreen and stick with it until after the 2min mark, it all makes sense then.

[via The Click]

September 27th, 2009

DSLR News Shooter website


Guardian photographer/videographer Dan Chung has set up a new website DSLR News Shooter aimed at those shooting news video on the new generation of DSLR cameras such as the Canon 5DmkII.

With the recent release of the Canon 7D and unconfirmed rumors that Nikon’s new flagship camera the D3s will feature full-frame 1080P video and 14fps stills shooting, the DSLR video race is starting to heat up.

Other good places to look for information and discussion of DSLR video issues are the Cinema5D forum, the DVInfo 5DmkII forum, the Planet5D blog, Canon 5D Tips, and filmmakers such as Phillip Bloom and Vincent Laforet.

What I’ve found with many of those sites though, is that most of the people there are using the cameras for what I’d categorise as a “slow” working environment i.e. documentaries, feature films, editorial work, etc.

Trying to shoot and edit video with DSLRs in a live news scenario is a heck of a lot different, so am hoping Dan’s new site will live up to its name and cater more to this field.

August 19th, 2009

New models, fewer megapixels?

Posted by Ben in Gear, Imaging, Photojournalism

Powershot G11

Canon today announced its latest high-end compact, the 10 megapixel Powershot G11, successor to the G10 which has been fairly popular with photojournalists as a carry-everywhere camera due to its rugged body and full manual controls.

10 megapixel… huh? Wasn’t the older G10 model 14.7 megapixels?

Yep, that’s right, and by all accounts it is good news. Seeing as the sensor size remains the same at 1/1.7-inch, this hopefully means Canon have taken a break from the neverending and rather ridiculous megapixel race for compact cameras, which brings us high-megapixel but high-noise images that are often unuseable over ISO400… and instead has decided to bring out a camera with fewer but larger pixels. This should result in much better overrall image quality, particularly at high ISOs… and DPReview is claiming 2-stop improvement in noise compared wth the G10.

I do find the omission of 720P video rather odd…. 640×480 doesn’t really cut the mustard these days.

Powershot S90

Also of possible interest to PJs is the new Powershot S90 – which seems to share the same sensor as the G11 and have full manual control. I’ve had a few of the S-Series Powershots in the past and liked them a lot, being some of the few genuinely compact cameras that still have manual control.

That said, they now face some stiff competition via the likes of the Panasonic DMC-LX3 etc. DPReview has posted a hands-on article about the S90 including photos comparing the S90 against the LX3.

We’ll have to wait and see for the reviews to come in… but any break from the megapixel madness in order to improve on actual image quality seem like a good thing. Engadget has posted some hands-on pictures of the G11 here.

April 8th, 2009

Liberia – long story, bit by bit

Posted by Ben in Africa, General, Photojournalism


As someone who photographed the climax of the Second Liberian Civil War, siege of the capital Monrovia, and downfall into exile of then-president Charles Taylor who is now on trial for war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting at the Hague, I have always been utterly fascinated by Liberia and have watched its progress from bloody civil war to relative peace and economic progress.

I was therefore excited to learn that last year’s World Press Photo winner Tim Hetherington (see interview about his winning photo) has a new photo book coming out shortly which focuses on Tim’s extensive work covering recent Liberian history, entitled Long Story, Bit By Bit

Tim had a unique perspective on that conflict being one of the few journalists, along with James Brabazon (see interview), to cover it primarily from the (geographical) side of the LURD rebels, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing this new publication, which Tim tells me is already printed and will be launched in early June.

His website says the book launch will take place on June 3rd at the Umbrage Gallery in Dumbo, New York, an exhibtion of the work will be on show there from May through to June, and Tim will give a talk about the project in the gallery space on May 16th. The exhibition will then move to the Lincoln Reade Centre in New York to accompany the Human Rights Watch Film festival that runs from June 10th to 29th

If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of Liberia I also highly recommend you watch these two films:

Liberia – America’s Stepchild (PBS documentary on Liberia’s long history, produced before the fall of Charles Taylor)
Liberia – An Uncivil War (documentary by Jonathan Stack, James Brabazon, and Tim Hetherington on the Second Liberian Civil War and fall of Charles Taylor)

Also see this previous post I wrote about an exhibition of Tim’s work in Liberia and a selection of his photos from that exhibition here

…and if you want to see a selection of the photos I took during that conflict go to my photo galleries page and select one of the two galleries entitled “Liberian War”. There’s a brief one of 15 images, and a longer one of 70 images.

Glenna Gordon has an interesting new interview with Tim about the book, conducted while he was recently in Monrovia.

Long Story Bit by Bit – some links
Publishers page
Press Release [PDF, 216kb]
Amazon US pre-order
Amazon UK pre-order

March 1st, 2009

Days of the darkroom numbered

Posted by Ben in General, Photojournalism

An era almost over…. Richard Nicholson photographs London’s dwindling professional darkrooms.
A great photo-story idea.

[via The Online Photographer]

February 8th, 2009

Q10 text editor

Posted by Ben in Photojournalism, Software, Windows


This one’s for my journo friends who sit in your office tapping your story away on that plastic Dell desktop, immersed in technology and the internet age, but secretly pining you were living decades earlier and click-clacking away on a manual typewriter.

You know who you are.

Now you can recreate at least some of that old-school journalist minimalism with the free Q10 full-screen text editor.

No menus, no user-interface, no icons, pretty much nothing at all to distract you from the actual process of writing. Just a blank screen and the romantic key sounds of a manual typewriter to fuel the inspiration for that latest government press release you’re rewriting…

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