I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Within the pages of one of the magazines in the room was this ad for The Ritz-Carlton. I love the visual suggestion of a cityscape created out of vintage and retro style product placement. It’s a strong and very masculine visual instantly recognizable as a skyline before your eye is able to deconstruct the image into it’s various parts of bottles, clocks, paperweights, flashlights and all other manner of recognizable and non-descript elements. The imagery is so powerful I kept flipping to the page with the ad just to decipher more of what made up the various forms. This was my favorite ad in the series, but not the only one that included the clever use of forms. Check out more here.
Imagine being able to truly refocus your pictures after they have been taken. Imagine a day when you never have to complain that the auto focus captured the wrong part of a picture. Imagine a single image where everything is simultaneously in focus and out of focus. You probably won’t have to image for much longer.
Mountain View, California based Lytro is claiming to refocus the photography market with cutting edge light field technology. This new technology captures the entire light field upon snapping a photo allowing the photographer or viewer to manipulate the focus and other dynamics of the photo after the picture has been taken.
I’ll be interested to see how the technology progresses and what the consumer response is. The interactive samples that they have on the website are fun to play with, but I see a little bit of odd artifacting between the in focus parts of the images and the bokeh. This is something that the everyday consumer may not mind or even notice, but for professional applications it could be a problem. I’m sure this is an issue that will be worked out in subsequent generations of the technology.
I definitely see potential for this technology not only in the civilian market, but also in the military, intelligence, and police sectors. Nearly every CSI type of cop show has the squints manipulate some ridiculously out-of-focus or damaged photo into some crystal clear image. Being a design professional with nearly 8 years of professional digital image manipulation experience I used to scoff at the ability to enhance a photo that much with so little information, but now it seems possible in the not so distant future. If security and surveillance systems were outfitted with the technology they could really analyze the subject matter to it’s fullest. The technology of this camera may even go a step further from the omni-focus video cameras introduced last year.
This will be an interesting camera system to watch. I can guarantee I won’t be trading in my Nikon anytime soon, but I might pick up a Lytro lens if one comes out with a Nikon mount.
We were finally able to enjoy some culture this weekend with the viewing of Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, 1923-1937 on view at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. As someone who did not know much about Steichen’s career beyond recognizing a few photographs it was interesting to find out more about his life and work.
The layout of the exhibit starts in the early 1920’s, where many of the portraits have a sepia and faded palette to the prints, from there it chronologically follows his career through the 1930s. His photographs of the 20s seem (at least to me) to be more straightforward and less dynamic than his later works. As the 20s gave way to the 30s Steichen’s photos have more depth, both in the blacks of the grayscale and the human interest displayed within the frame. His film noir treatment of light and the Art Nuevo, and especially Art Deco styling of his backgrounds, subject mater, and overall aesthetic really began to take shape as his career progressed.
Though probably known best for his female subjects, the way he shot his male figures are both epic and timeless. The photo of Gary Cooper in the late 20s reminds me of the Don Draper character from the AMC show Mad Men (see images above). My favorite photo out of the entire exhibit was probably the smallest on display. It was of a movie director or producer taken in 1930. The man (who I really wish I could remember who it was) is seated in a director’s chair with lighting and grip equipment serving as the background. The camera is positioned lower that the subject and the lighting is of an intense key light with mild fill …exceptionally powerful and stunning.
After viewing the exhibit you see how Steichen was able to influence fashion photography from that point on. The texture and shape he could create through the natural curves of his models coupled with the lines of the fabrics they wore were both dynamic and simplistic. Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, 1923-1937 was on display at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale from February 28 through April 11th, 2010. From Fort Lauderdale it makes it’s last scheduled stop at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO from May 15 – July 25, 2010.
When you close your eyes at night, what nightmares come creeping in? In the case of photographer Joshua Hoffine I think we can tell this very easily. That is because he painstakingly creates beautifully staged photographs of all manner of horrors with a little help from his friends and family. I encourage you to check out his website and blog showing the behind the scenes work that goes into each shot.
What happens when you trudge up a small hill, climb 105 steps up a spiral staircase, take in the view at 146’ then walk down the 105 steps and the small hill? You get a little tired. But you also get some cool photos and a little history lesson.
Today was the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Day, where 1000 participating museums nationwide allowed free admission to anyone who downloaded the pass from Smithsonianmag.com. To change things up from our usual experiences in art and design venues we headed north to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum. The museum showcases exhibits about Florida’s earliest inhabitants, the history of the lighthouse, and the area’s military activities during WWII. It is located in a World War II U.S. Naval housing building that was built as the married men’s quarters of the Directional Finding Station known as “Station J” The station was used to locate German U-boats and also to serve as a navigational beacon for military ships and aircraft during the war. The building is now owned by the Town of Jupiter and operated by the Loxahatchee River Historical Society.
Jupiter Lighthouse, the one with all the steps, was first lit on July 10, 1860. It has remained, with the exception of a few years during the Civil War, a functional lighthouse ever since. The US Coast Guard took over operation of the beacon in 1939, and has never missed a night. As part of the admission to the museum you are given the opportunity to climb the steps, view the light mechanism, and peer out over the Loxahatchee River from 146 feet above the water.
After our trek up the lighthouse and through the museum we decided to check out another rather unknown area of Florida – The Blowing Rocks Preserve. The preserve is a 73-acre barrier island sanctuary that includes walking trails, an open-air butterfly garden, and most impressively a beach lined with Anastasia limestone rock formations. The formations have been eroded over time to form blowholes able to shoot sea spray up to 50 feet in the air. A very impressive sight indeed!
We had a fun day participating in the Smithsonian’s Museum Day and exploring a little on our own. The lighthouse and museum are finishing restoration on a second building, and should have that open in the coming months. I plan on visiting Blowing Rocks more; it was a beautiful beach with excellent photographic imagery.
It’s graduation season at the Art Institutes again, and once again I was not disappointed at the showing in Miami. The graduating class at Miami International University of Art and Design seemed a little smaller this quarter compared to last, but the work was equally as good. Interior design was set up outside the hall and the extra space allowed for a little less congestion throughout portfolio review. Fashion Design, Accessory Design, and Fashion Merchandizing had a good showing with a wide variety of styles represented. Graphic Design showed sound composition and design aesthetics. Juan Lopez from the Graphics Department caught my eye with some interesting 3D work.
Visual Arts had only two graduates this quarter, but both were very strong. Alejandra Cicilia showed her diversity in photography. She had some fantastic photos of construction workers in front of the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, her fashion photography was well composed, and her nighttime photography has an amazing use of color. The work of Chantal Disler can be an event in itself. She takes watercolor, newsprint, and other mixed media and forms them into beautiful arrangements of harmony. Her branding seems to be set around birds in different forms and flight patterns. Her photography, drawings, and portraits all follow a free will aesthetic.
This quarter’s showing was very good. The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale had their portfolio review today at the Broward County Convention Center. Unfortunately I was unable to attend both, but wish graduates from both schools the best of luck!