It seems to me that every country in the world only has a few really outstanding photographers identified with it. Frankly, the country of Uzbekistan was not in my consciousness before I saw Umida Akhmedova's pictures of it. The pictures—you can see about 50 of them here—are honest and unflinching, as all good photography must be, but they show a country breathtaking in its beauty as well as a proud people for whom the photographer obviously has much affection.
The impact on me of seeing her pictures is that it makes me wish to visit Uzbekistan or, at least, to learn more about the country and its people.
(Thanks to Michael Seltzer)
Featured Comment by Ian Loveday: "Yes, they are great pictures for an outsider to see (when or if I'll get to visit Uzbekistan I have no idea, but they certainly attract me). My point is...natives of a country (or region or city I suppose) can react badly to portrayals by (and to a large extent for) outsiders. I bought a book of photographs of China recently (China: A Visual Adventure, published by Carlton Books). Not a self consciously arty or prestigious book to be sure, but I liked some of the off-beat and non-tourist-cliché images it included, like wannabe punk rockers in Beijing. My Chinese wife was horrified. 'It must have been shot by a westerner,' she said. 'No Chinese photographer would publish pictures like that.'"
Mike adds: And don't forget it took a Swiss to do The Americans.
I really did stumble across this very randomly: I was browsing the newsstand at the grocery store on Saturday and picked up the March, 2010 issue of a magazine I'd never seen or heard of before called Cowboys & Indians. (It bills itself as "The Premier Magazine of the West.") Flipping through it, this simple but evocative picture caught my attention (y'all know how much I love horses). It was in a feature by equine photographer Tony Stromberg, whose work can be seen at his website.
I think he mentioned in the magazine that this is a favorite among people who like his work. And no wonder.
A forumer called "NewYorkEd" has put up a nifty mini-portfolio on the dpreview forums called "Shutterbugs," of people using cameras in New York's Times Square. Clayton Jones, who sent this along, called it "a bunch of excellent NYC street shots of people taking pictures," and says, "some are quite humorous, and it's an interesting and intense look at modern culture and its relationship with photography. Lots of food for thought here."
I agree—and fun to look at, too. The only thing I can add to what Clayton said is that—well, I don't know if you've ever tried this kind of thing, but it's not as easy as NewYorkEd makes it look! He shot these with a now-discontinued Canon digicam.
If NewYorkEd wants to leave a comment with his real name or any other thoughts, I'll add it to this post.
(Thanks to Clayton Jones)
To see this one you'll have to follow the link, and don't even think of it unless you have DSL or better. (You also don't want to try this on your iPhone or netbook.)
A view of beautiful Rio that might be quite heartbreaking to hoar-rimed denizens of the Northern hemisphere right about now! (I don't know about you, but we're in the deep freezer.)
I'm not quite sure if this is a "photograph"—maybe a "web-o-graph"?
Note that you can zoom in or out and look up or down in addition to the slow pan.
(Thanks to Michael O'Donoghue)
The heck with 5B4.
Well, no, I don't mean that. I don't mean that at all. 5B4 is a valuable and unique site, one I visit often (even though I actually get to see for myself barely one out of every twenty of the books mentioned. It's a drawback).
The thing is, Jeff Ladd is also just one hell of a photographer. He's really terrific, I think. And why isn't this fact known?
Take a look at the little mini-set of twelve color pictures presented at the top of this page. That's just a great tight little set. Loose, elegiac, allegorical, elliptical, evocative, informed. Love 'em.
Just chucked up there like an afterthought. Surplus prints.
Jeff writes eloquently and extensively about premium monographs from major publishers of other photographers' work. So why is there not a premium monograph from a major publisher of Jeff's work? There ought to be. I'm just sayin'.
Featured Comment by Guy Batey: "Great stuff. A fuller version of the series here.
Featured Comment by El Inglés: "Many thanks for introducing me to Jeffrey's work. As a result, I have just donated to secure one of his B&W proofs for my wall at home, notable in that it is the first print I have bought from another photographer."
Electricity, Juan-les-Pins, 2008
Gianni Galassi works in a very consistent style, using black shadows and intense colors in the square. It's a style very far from my own, but I enjoy his inventiveness within the strictures he's chosen. I particularly like the way small and more tonally conventional elements play off the graphic quality that dominates the shots, as in the picture above. (The tonal merger with our background color here isn't ideal, though. Sorry 'bout that.)
I'm enjoying his new blog, too.
Apartment Building, Antibes, 2008
Stephen Gillette, Tondi (Big Sur #13), pigment on mulberry paper, 11.75 x 8.25"
By rights, these shouldn't work, and I guess I'm not sure all of them do, at least not equally. But some of them sure do. As a friend of mine once said, "it's not the idea, it's how it looks." If you live near Big Sur, you can see them. Here's the scoop, and some more.
(By the bye, I think the prettiest one is #5, but Eolake already posted that one on his blog, so I'm not going to ditto it. Take a look at all of them and pick your own favorite.)
Conrad Tan has posted a number of outstanding bird photographs over on FredMiranda.com, all taken with The new Canon 7D with the EF 400mm ƒ/5.6 lens evidently used for most if not all of them. Most of the pictures are described as being "mid to heavy crop."
If you happen to live in Denver and have a family, you're in luck, because you have a terrific kid portraitist nearby. Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai is a commercial portraitist whose website is divided into "Short People," "Tall People," and "Eyes." A nice list of categories/priorities.
It's quite possible that we have an especial appreciation for photographers who are particularly good at the types of work we ourselves have done, but, professional admiration aside, I think it should be obvious to anyone that Cheryl has a real feel for kids. A visit to her website is a virtual lesson in "How It Oughta Be Done." If that's not enough for you, she teaches workshops, too.
So what if you don't live in Denver? You can pay her to travel, but here's a tip—if three clients hire her from any non-Denver location, she'll travel for free.
...This morning's take is more tragic and disturbing than yesterday's, I'm afraid. A remarkable set of photographs.
(Thanks to Arnaud Réveillon)
Featured Comment by John:
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small.
[Ed. Note: From Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Part 7. The poem continues, "For the dear God who loveth us, / He made and loveth all." —Mike]
TOP reader Jim Tiemann sent me this picture, with a note:
"Sometimes we need reminding why they invented cameras...
After watching my wife give birth to our new son, they gave him to me. My sister-in-law took my camera, and I got to cry my eyes out in utter amazement and joy. I'm eternally grateful that she pointed the camera towards us...."
Big congratulations to Jim and his family. And a happy weekend to all.
(Thanks to Jim)
Some pictures of an encounter with a curious fur seal taken on a trip that TOP reader Alek O. Komarnitsky recently took to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.
Alek, who describes himself as a dedicated amateur who "takes way too many pictures and spends way too much time pixel-peeping" (although his wife just says he's "a crazy camera guy"—can anybody relate?), describes the trip as "truly a trip of a lifetime," adding, "if you ever do this, don't just go to Antarctica, do the triangle with Falklands and South Georgia which are even more impressive."
The baby fur seal actually started nibbling on the lens hood of the remote 40D. You can enjoy the whole set and travel along vicariously at his website, where there's more information, too, starting with a map.
Richard Renaldi's Photostream
Richard Renaldi's website
Richard Renaldi's second book, Fall River Boys, is available exclusively from Charles Lane press, $85 unsigned, $90 signed, in a limited edition of 1200 copies.
Featured [partial] Comment by richardplondon: "Funny thing about people photographed with large format, they often have a look of someone 'participating' in something. Ready steady go, this is your moment, show us your stuff...."
Mike replies: Funny, I was looking at this more from a coloristic standpoint, and at the way the flyaway hat brim plays off the plant fronds in the near bokeh....
Stuart Franklin [see featured comment below] took this elegant picture of a familiar figure practicing for the PGA Championship tournament, which begins today at Hazeltine. It's possible to consider it an example of a tiny but honorable niche—"portraits" in which the subject is not facing the camera, like Karsh's picture of Pablo Casals.
Featured Comment by Bahi: "The golf shot might be from a different Stuart Franklin; there's a Getty sports photographer by that name who gets lots of interesting pictures of Tiger Woods and who is unrelated to the Magnum shooter (and recent Magnum President) in the post you're currently linking to on the old TOP site.
By the way, according to a comment at the site below, the President of Magnum got a lot of e-mail about a purported Photoshop disaster that wasn't really a Photoshop disaster at all and which definitely involved the other Stuart Franklin.
Mike replies: My mistake. Thanks Bahi. I removed the link. I should have remembered there was a "second" Stuart Franklin from our own discussion of the fascinating "error mimicking" of the Mickelson/Woods shot—which was, as you say, actually not a Photoshop disaster.
As a curmudgeonly aside, when there's an established figure in the field with the same name, it's customary for the later-comer to use a middle initial to distinguish himself. Maybe we should unilaterally name the second Stuart Franklin "Stuart X. Franklin." I suppose it's possible that Getty Stuart Franklin is older than Magnum Stuart Franklin, though—just because I heard of the latter first doesn't necessarily mean he has primacy. —Mike, who has always disliked having a too-common name
In the interests of full disclosure, Ham's a cousin, and I'm a sucker for sailboats, which I think are often among the most graceful and lovely of all Man's fabrications. I came across this because Ham used it for the cover of an iPhoto book he made recently of his favorite pictures. Slightly cropped (from the bottom, if memory serves), it makes a very good looking book cover.
I hadn't recently seen an iPhoto book (which you can make and order for $30 from within iPhoto '09, which is part of iLife '09, which comes bundled with Macs), and I was impressed with the quality. The last bespoke photo book I made myself was through lulu.com, and the pictures in it had the look of high-quality color Xeroxes; Ham's hardcover had repro more like middling-quality offset—in other words, pretty darn good. If you have an Apple, you ought to try this. (Unless you've already made half a dozen and I'm just late to the party. Come to think of it, Nick Hartmann has been telling me about Apple books for months now....)
Ham made the shot with an Olympus C-5050z at 1/500th sec. at ƒ/4, ISO 64.
Featured Comment by Ernest Theisen: "I tried to use the previous version of iPhoto and it gave me fits so I went to MyPublisher and I got good results. I was told that MyPublisher makes the books for Apple's iPhoto."
Revisiting a couple of topics from the last couple of months:
First, a wonderful collection of Kodachrome photographs from the vaults of Fortune magazine, dating from 1939 to 2002, from artists as diverse as Dmitri Kessel, William Vandivert*, Dan Weiner, Robert Doisneau, and Alex Webb, as well as several not at all known for shooting color, such as Ansel Adams, Ralph Steiner, Walker Evans, and W. Eugene Smith (Smith's picture above was taken in 1957 for an article about the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company's then-new building in Hartford. The picture didn't make the issue). A tiny sampling online, but good to look at. (Coincidentally highlights one of Kodachrome's often hidden benefits, too—its good dark-storage archivability.)
We were talking about Kodachrome when it went the way of all things last month.
On a related note, TOP reader Luc Novovitch passed by Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah last week on his way to Escalante, and he confirms that the park is still there and still has the same name! (There was some question.) Above is a shot he took on his way through.
In a "Featured Comment" to our post about adding an aerial shot to your portfolio, photographer Stan Semuskie told a cool story about being hired by Forbes magazine to shoot the home of Nike founder Phil Knight, and how he had a blast that day shooting everything he could see from the chopper. Stan has now put some of the selects from that shoot online; you can practically feel the rush of the air and the beat of the blades. Fun stuff.
Life.com has put up a set it calls "The 21 Greatest Space Photos Ever." I have to say I think the jury's still out on Life.com. The JPEGs are often of...well, variable quality, and the interface gets in the way of enjoying the pictures. Take #15 in the linked set, for instance—"the immediately recognizable human form" in the "vastness of space" yes, but then, the two arrows that also appear to be floating in the vastness of space compete with the human form and detract somewhat from the visual impact. (Speaking of that shot, I wonder if Astronaut Bruce McCandless is any relation to Chris McCandless, the protagonist of Jon Krakauer's fine if troubling book Into the Wild—there's a movie, too—I recall that when my father was a Director of NASA, one of the people under him was Walt McCandless, father of Chris.)
Finally, the always delightful Shorpy.com has some better JPEGs of the late Julius Shulman's architectural work than I was able to link to the other day, including a large, good-quality digitization of Shulman's signature picture.
(Thanks to Marc Rochkind, Luc, Stan, Robert Lee, and Werner J. Karl)
*Whose former assistant Carl Leonardi is a TOP reader.
This isn't the easiest picture in the world to visually parse. If you're lucky, when you first looked at this you didn't get it right away, and then you did. Made you smile, I bet. I'll give you a hint: it's a perfectly straight photograph, as far as I know. (I hope it is. We should ask Damion.)
It's from the series "In the Deep End." I've known there was a great series of photographs in this subject for literally twenty-five years; I always knew it. (I could never be the one to shoot it, though. Or try. Ever heard that old dictum that a man can drown in a teacup of water? Well, I am that man.) Every now and then I'd see a hint of it, one shot here or there showing just how rich a subject it could be. There was a fine book out a long time ago from Aperture called Swimmers (actually, it was Aperture no. 111, June 1988) that showed a lot of the composite parts, but of course lacking one unifying sensibility. Anyway, Damion Berger's "In the Deep End" is the first time I've ever seen anybody actually pull it off. Great set. Don't miss the slideshow—this is work that really coheres as a set, and each of these pictures is better in the context of all the others.
Some of the work is on view all summer long at Bonnie Benrubi Gallery, in the "Hot Fun in the Summertime" show. The gallery is at 41 East 57th Street, 13th Floor, New York, New York 10022, phone 212/888-6007.
UPDATE: I heard from Damion, who tells me that all the pictures in the "Deep End" portfolio are indeed "straight."