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.
Like the compactness of a point-and-shoot camera, but want the visual punch of a DSLR? In the past we’ve seen point-and-shoots with various attachment options – for example the Sony Cyber-shot series of point-and-shoot cameras has been offering attachments like a wide angle lens, telephoto lens, photo filter set, and underwater camera case for years – but none have offered the true versatility of a real DSLR.
The gap between these two realms is shrinking fast. Some define the new kid on the digital photo block as a “hybrid camera,” while others call it a “power point-and-shoot”. So what makes this new category of camera so special? Compared to traditional P&S cameras these new cameras allow for better ISO (light sensitivity), smaller lens aperture (the amount of light allowed into the lens), and some even boast compatibility with the Micro Four Thirds System (allowing for changeable lenses). Olympus recently released a statement about the E-P1 camera saying it is: “…The world’s smallest 12.3-megapixel interchangeable lens system camera that blends the high-quality still images of a DSLR with HD video, stereo Linear PCM audio recording and In-Camera Creativity within an ultra-portable body.”
These cameras are smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts, mainly due to the camera’s lack of a mirror box in favor of an ultra-precise electronic viewfinder. The cameras are expected to provide point-and-shoot enthusiasts with control over depth of field and other areas lacking from the P&S platform while maintaining the flexibility of a small camera. In fact the CEO of Samsung Digital Imaging Company, Sang-jin Park, said: “We estimate that the hybrid digital camera market will be over 20 percent of the global digital still-camera market by 2012.”
We’ll see some versions of the new high-end point-and-shoots on the market later this year and they are expected to be in the $600+ price range. Companies planning to be in the first wave of power point-and-shoot manufacturers include: Panasonic, Samsung, Olympus, Leica, and Sigma. It will be interesting to see where this new genre takes us.