Category Archives: Photography

Century-old street photography

Here’s an intriguing look at century-old fashion — particularly womenswear from London and Paris.

They were scanned by the Kensington and Chelsea Libraries, but collected into a cool gallery by the Daily Mail, which I normally hesitate to link to.

According to them, the man behind the camera was Edward Linley Sambourne, a guy who was also the chief cartoonist for Punch. I wonder how people at that time felt about being photographed? Was it cool and new? Was it an invasion of privacy? Was it considered creepy at all to have a cartoonist lingering around, taking pictures of women?

If you like street photography, you might want to check out my friend Colin’s blog, Reserved At All Times. He captures moments from our hometown, Planet Brandon, that other people’s eyes just skate right over.

Manual kerning, the poster

I was absolutely entranced by this post on Quad Royal – a Vintage Poster Blog, taking a look at something they found rolled up in an old tube.

They found two posters — one white, one black; one full of an upper-case alphabet, the other, lower-case. What were they? As it turned out, instructions — spacing rules, to be exact. Or, kerning.

[T]hese instructions are by the great graphic designer Jock Kinneir. He’s best known for designing the template and typeface for Britain’s road signage along with Margaret Calvert (the Design museum have written an interesting piece about it if you want to know more). But in 1964 they also designed Rail Alphabet, as part of the Design Research Unit‘s rebranding of British Railways.

So that’s what I think this is, particularly as the posters came as part of an assorted lot from the Malcolm Guest sale. I imagine that, given their battered and used state, they were up on the walls of a design office somewhere in the British Railways system.

Now of course rendered obsolete by the computer. But a rather a fascinating bit of graphic design history nonetheless.

What I’ve also discovered in the course of writing this post is that Rail Alphabet wasn’t just used by British Railways, but also by Gatwick Airport and the NHS too, right up until the mid 1990s.  So it’s more than just a typeface, it’s the written identity of the post-war British state.

So, not just a really cool-looking poster (click over to the full post, where they’ve got photos of the full things), but also an important historical artifact. The blog says they will be donated to a museum.

I would love to have them re-printed.

(via @Coudal)

Shooting with a silencer: Camera noise, the Jacobsen Blimp, and why those Osama/Obama photos were staged

Did your local newspaper run a photo of U.S. President Barack Obama, addressing the nation about the death of Osama bin Laden?

Well, no, it didn’t.

What your local newspaper actually ran was a staged photo, taken a few minutes after the president gave his speech. Obama walked back out to the podium, and faked talking for a few minutes, while photographers snapped away.

According to Al Tomkins, writing on journalism website, this is pretty standard practice — although it’s not talked about much:

This type of staging has been going on for decades.

John Harrington, president of the White House News Photographers Association, tells me that the Obama Administration has used this technique before and they are not the first.

“I am aware of it happening in previous administrations. I believe Bush 41 did it too,” Harrington said. “The times where I have known of it happening before is when the President is in the Oval Office and you are working in a very tight space.”

Other photographers who work at the White House told that since the Reagan era (and possibly before) it has been the standard operating procedure that during a live presidential address, still cameras are not allowed to photograph the actual event.

(See also the blog of Jason Reed, a White House photographer for Reuters, who posted a description of the night that Tompkins linked to.)

So why do they do it?

Apparently, it’s partly a concern for space, partly because the teleprompter gets in the way, and partly because camera shutters make too much noise (especially when there are dozens of them, and they’re echoing off White House marble).

But there are ways to silence a camera. Check out this cool foam-lined case for an SLR that practically mutes the shutter sound, although at the price of limiting your ability to change settings on the camera itself. It’s called a Jacobsen Blimp:

Tompkins doesn’t hold back what he thinks about this type of re-staging of a photo. Although the initial photo captions are clear that this was a re-enactment, Poynter checked into 50 newspaper front pages from the next morning. More than half don’t make it clear to readers that they’re not seeing the actual speech:

It is time for this kind of re-enactment to end. The White House should value truth and authenticity. The technology clearly exists to document important moments without interrupting them. Photojournalists and their employers should insist on and press for access to document these historic moments.

Hear, hear.

Easy DIY project

Any photographers out there who have been in the game for awhile will probably have (or had) a film camera. And with film cameras, comes film, and pages and pages of negatives.

Personally, I have a whole box full of them. They’re all digitized now, but it’s hard to get rid of negatives, you know, just in case.

Which brings us to the above picture. Instead of throwing away those old negatives, you can make a really cool lamp out of them!

Over at the craft website Poopscape, there’s a detailed explanation on how to make this, with basically a $10 lamp and some glue. Very neat! And very easy, too.

(Via. Thanks for the tip, Alawna!)

Vintage suitcases in pastoral locations

It’s a new hipster epidemic: Baby and couples photography that features vintage luggage and rural locations — especially railroads.

So, of course, the only rational response is to start a single-serving Tumblr: Lost Models.

I particularly like the snarky comments, like this one:

Photographer: “This is the exact moment they got hit, but the train was bugging me so I cloned it out.”


(via Coudal)

Learn how to shoot video on your DSLR

If you’re interested in making the most of the video capabilities in your higher-end DSLR, then you might want to check out a video series on the B&H Site.

Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut will lead you through a six-episode series of step-by-step instructional videos until you know how to best make use of that very expensive tool you’re holding. Embedding of the videos is disabled, so you’ll have to visit that link to check them out.

We’re two episodes in, and future episodes are set to come out once a week until April 4. Some of it’s pretty basic info, but I’m glad that he’s taking the time to build the fundamentals so that everyone’s on the same page when more advanced techniques are taught.

I mean, it just doesn’t matter how great you can focus on the fly if your white balance is off.

So far, it seems to be pretty camera-specific (he’s shooting Canon), but there is plenty that is applicable to any camera, in any situation — just the button presses will be different.

(Oh, and yes, he’s is that Shane Hurlbut — the one who got infamously screamed at by Christian Bale.)

Chin up, buddy!

“Spanish matador Julio Aparicio is gored by a bull during a bullfight during the San Isidro Feria at the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid,” says the caption of this photo, which was recently declared Picture of the Year in the Sports Action category by POYI.

Don’t worry, says the anonymous* photographer, “Aparicio underwent surgery and is out of critical danger.”

Yeah, but how’s the bull?

Thanks to my friend Tim for bringing this one to my attention. It really snapped my head around.

(*Photographers are kept anonymous on the site until after judging is complete. They will be revealing winners in different categories until Feb. 22)

Sexual harassment stock photography

There’s something special about the poised-yet-awkward nature of stock photography, in which the ne plus ultra is also the most generic.

Everything about a stock photo strives to be ordinary. So, when you couple that with very out-of-the-ordinary situations, what you get is pure comedy. Hence, this gallery: The Best of Sexual Harassment Stock Photography.

(@bortflancrest, via @stumpymccripple)

Knopflerized version of Huck Finn

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, no doubt you’ve read about the uproar over a bowdlerized version of Huckleberry Finn recently released in which the offensive word “nigger” has been replaced throughout with the allegedly-less-offensive “slave.”

Now, in Canada, comes news that the Dire Straits classic “Money For Nothing” will have bowdlerization enforced upon it. A person complained that the use of the word “faggot” was offensive.

So, I have decided to do the world a favour and combine those two crimes against political incorrectness.

Noting that the full text of Huckleberry Finn was available online, I imported it into a word processing program and did a quick find-and-replace for “nigger / faggot”. The two words are pleasingly similar with their double-g centres and consonant/vowel distribution. The whole process took no time at all. There were only a few hundred replacements needed.

So, I hope you enjoy the “Knopflerized” version of Huckleberry Finn, which you can download right here, in .doc format.

(Image, above, appears to be Huck Finn and his pal Faggot Jim, sharing a snooze together, perhaps after smoking each others’ corncob pipes?)