Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Secret World Of Pandas by Ami Vitale

Thanks to hunting and the destruction of their natural habitat, there are only an estimated 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild and many conservationists privately consider them drifting towards extinction.  But now, there is a glimmer of hope as years of research and failure is finally paying off.  Chinese scientists and their international counterparts have cracked the puzzle of successfully breeding pandas in captivity.

I accompanied Dr. M. Sanjayan on behalf of The Nature Conservancy and a camera crew filming a new series, to air in 2015, on wildlife & humans for PBS and National Geographic TV.  We witnessed two-year old captive born, Zhang Xiang – which aptly means hope – as she took her first steps into the wild.  The breeding and releasing of Giant Pandas into the wild is the brain child of Director Zhang Hemin or “Papa Panda” as he is fondly known.

In 2005, scientists at China’s Wolong National Nature Reserve, in Sichuan province, attempted to release a young male into the wild, but it soon died, likely as a result of a fight with wild pandas. That’s when Director Zhang and his team realized that the captive-born animal didn’t really know how to behave like a panda, and revamped the reserve’s program nearly from scratch. They eventually decided that the best way to raise captive pandas that act like wild ones was to erase all traces of humans from their world and allow the mothers to raise their cubs on their own.

The strategy seems to be working and 
 Zhang Xiang is doing well. Unlike pandas in zoos, she will have no lines of schoolchildren waiting to meet her, nor a fan page on Facebook but China may be on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador and in the process put the wild back into an icon. 

Read more: Time Magazine LightBox

All about Ami Vitale

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Seminar with the Photographers of VII

Where? NPR's Studio One • Washington, DC 
When? Saturday, May 17, 2014 

Join the photographers of VII for a day-long seminar, followed by an evening panel and reception hosted in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, as they explore the opportunities and challenges facing contemporary photojournalists. With an overarching theme of “Reinventing Photojournalism” for today’s audiences and marketplace, VII has assembled a diverse range of talks that offer an intimate, in-depth look at the forefront of new perspectives in photojournalism amid broad economic, political, and cultural changes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PhotoNOMA: One Night, One Hundred Photographers!

The New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA), in partnership with the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), is thrilled to announce PhotoNOMA, a photographers’ portfolio sharing night at the New Orleans Museum of Art on Friday, April 18th. This popular photographic free-for-all features 100 photographers displaying their work. Participating artists include Sandra Russell Clark, Julie Dermansky  Susan Guice, Tim Hope, George Long and Jennifer Shaw. 

PhotoNOMA will run from 5:30-8:30pm, during Friday Nights at NOMA. 
Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for Photo Alliance members and free to NOMA members.

PhotoNOMA is growing into a national event with photographers traveling in from Colorado, Illinois, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama to participate. A broad range of work will be on display, covering almost every genre and technique; including landscapes, photojournalism, portraiture, street photography, wet plate collodion work and more. This one-night event offers guests a wonderful opportunity to learn about photography by viewing a variety of portfolios and conversing with the image-makers. Previews of some of the participating artists can be found online at: http://neworleansphotoalliance.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Selected Book: Sarah Moon: 12345

Curiously, Sarah Moon is not very famous in the US but she is a huge "photo star" in France. We had the chance to see her work many times and we have all her books! 12345 is for sure one of our favorites. Not only because it is 5 books in one, but also because you can discover her film Mississippi One (free DVD included). We can only regret it is not translated in English...

Exhibition San Francisco: 7th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show

A MUST SEE If you are in the Bay Area
Each year the competition for the Plastic Camera Show at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, California is a huge success. Gallery Director Ann Jastrab receives thousands of images from all over the United States and sometimes abroad. The only requirement for this competition was to use a plastic camera and the results are very impressive. This is an exhibition we recommend warmly. 
Rayko Photo Center
428 Third Street
San Francisco, California - CA94108

Framing and composition tips

The principles of visual art are the rules, tools and guidelines that artists often use to organize the elements of art in their work. Of course, not everyone follows these rules but most of them does because it is more pleasing for the human eye. Let's take a look at some of these principles and a few other tips to take better shots.

-The Golden Ratio and the Rule of thirds
In mathematics and the arts two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to their maximum. Many artists have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio—especially in the form of the golden rectangle in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio—believing this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing.

We use this ratio to draw imaginary lines on a rectangle image. The lines cut the image in 3 vertical and 3 horizontal identical parts. (red lines on the image) If the subject is in the middle of the image it seems too static. It is always better to try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections.
 Photo Henri Cartier-Bresson: All about Henri Cartier-Bresson

Move your subject away from the center to achieve a visual balance. 
- Give your subject space on the side that he is looking
For portraits do not put the eyes in the center of the image (also follow the rule of thirds) and compose your portrait so that the subject's eyes are positioned 1/3 of the way down from the top of the frame. It is better if you keep the eyes in the upper third. To help you do that try to place the neck in the center.
Photo Julia Fullerton-Batten: All about Julia Fullerton-Batten

Also give your subject some room to look into. If the subject is looking in one direction (or if his head is pointing in one direction) it is best to place him on the opposite side of the frame.
- Vertical or horizontal?
Spontaneously we take "landscape" images (horizontal) because the images seem more balanced and more accurate in comparison to our vision. Our eyes scan space from left to right. It is the obvious choice for landscape images and all the actions that require width.

For portraits we usually use "portrait" or vertical framing. But because a vertical framing is called "portrait" everywhere doesn’t mean you have to use it when shooting portraits. Change your framing for every shoot to add variety to the type of shots you take.
Photo Sandrine Hermand-Grisel: All about Sandrine Hermand-Grisel

Shoot vertically to enhance tall objects or to accentuate height. Shoot horizontally to accentuate width. 
- Use diagonals and leading lines
When we look at a photograph our eyes are naturally drawn along lines. The use of lines can help direct the viewers attention to a specific part of an image. They can be straight, diagonal or wavy, intentional or unintentional. They affect the way we view the image, dragging us towards the subject or leading us away from it. Lines should enhance your composition not the opposite.

Most of the time they start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upwards and inwards, from the foreground to the background of the image to guide your eyes toward the main subject. The roads are a good example of lines that can help us achieve that. They give us a feeling of motion.
 - A few tips about lighting
Lighting is very important and can be sometimes tricky. Here are a few quick facts to help you.

* Check where the lights come from if you want to avoid dark pictures. The sun for example should be in your back or on the side but not just in front of your lens unless you want to make a special effect.

* The broader the light source, the softer the light. The narrower the source, the harder the light.
Hard light comes from a source that's small compared to the subject. In this case it casts hard shadows and has high contrast.
Soft light falling on the subject from a source that's large compared to the subject, wraps light around the subject, filling shadows and lowering contrast.
A large source will wrap light around a small subject filling shadows and lowering contrast. A small source will direct light onto a large subject creating hard shadows and high contrast.

* Diffusion makes the light source broader and therefor softer. Think about clouds or fog. We usually use reflectors to diffuse harsh lights but you can also use a white fabric.

* Light gets dim fast when you move it away. The rule says that light falls off as the square of the distance. You can use it to vary the light of your background.

* Front lighting de-emphasizes texture but lighting from the side, above, or below emphasizes it. Which means that if you want your model for instance to have less wrinkles, keep the light close to the axis of your lens.

* Light has a temperature. Depending on the time, sunlight can be warm or bluish. You can modify the white balance of your digital camera to play with the tone of the light. If you are using film, filters are a good option.

* Shadows create volume, play with the light, try different things.

* If you don't have enough light, your subject will be blurry if it moves. Use a tripod and increase exposure time. Don't hesitate to play with shutter speed.
- Pay attention to the background and depth of your image
Photography is a two-dimensional medium, so we have to choose our background carefully to convey the sense of depth.
Photo Alain Laboile: All about Alain Laboile

For depth play with
* Aperture size: the smaller the size of the lens aperture (the larger the f-number), the greater the depth of field. The larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field.
* The distance between the subject and the camera. If you move further from the subject you increase the depth of field. If you move closer to your subject you decrease it.
* Lens focal length. Zooming out to a wider angle of view increases depth of field. Zooming in on the opposite decreases it.
You can also create more depth by including objects in the foreground, middle ground or background.

Background: Sometimes you want your background to be as minimalistic as possible and sometimes you want the background to increase the context/story/drama of your image. In any case try to pay attention to your background. Many images are ruined by not paying attention to what is going on.
- Importance of view point
The view point is very important, it has an impact on the composition and as a result it can modify your message.

If you shoot down on subjects you either diminish them or make them look less imposing. It is usually more flattering to shoot a person slightly below his eye-line. For example if you take a picture of a child you should bend your knees so that your camera is at the eye level of your subject otherwise he/she will appear to have a big head and small legs.

If you shoot up from ground level for example you will make your subject look more imposing. It can be a good view point for fashion shots because the model will seem to have much longer legs.
- Fill the frame and frame your shots
Especially when you shoot portraits the rule is to fill the frame so that you are not distracted by the background. The image seems more powerful and intimate. Get closer to your subject or zoom in. Don't hesitate to crop your images afterwards if you have too much wasted space on the sides of your subject.
Photo by Lee Jeffries: All about Lee Jeffries

If you are shooting landscapes don't hesitate to frame your image. You can find natural frames almost everywhere like trees, archways, windows, branches, walls... By placing some of these elements around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the rest.
The result is a more focused image which draws attention to your main subject. Of course your frame doesn’t need to go completely around the edges of your image. Your frame can also be out of focus (or not) depending if your frame is in the foreground, middle or background and your choice of aperture.
- KISS or keep it simple series
Less is more. Simple images tend to have more impact because the message is usually clearer and our attention more focused on what is important: the primary subject.
- Rules are not laws.
Composition in photography is not a science. All the rules that you can find here and there are just tricks that might help you but it is not the recipe for success. Some photographers respect these rules while others don't. But it is always better to comprehend the basics in order to understand their properties if you want to bypass them later. We could take Picasso as an example to make our point. He studied all the classical paintings, rules, guidelines at art school and he knew very well how to draw. But it is because of his knowledge that he was able to make balanced fragmented paintings later in his life. Don't hesitate to break the rules but always keep in mind that they might help you.

Monday, April 7, 2014

AIPAD Photography Show

The AIPAD Photography Show in New York is just around the corner! (April 10 - April 13)

We can't wait to discover all the new talents (and the old ones too of course) that this incredible fair will discover. Each year galleries help us find new treasures in the photography market.

Of course we will let you know! But in the meantime we can already tell you that you won't want to miss the work Julia Fullerton-Batten

You can discover her full portfolio on the website. She kindly accepted that we showcase her work!

Check out also our listing with all the upcoming fairs: All about AIPAD