photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

‘ere we go, ‘ere we go, etc

in Unsolicited, rabid opinions , Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"As a professional photographer, author Martin Evening knows firsthand what photographers need for a more efficient workflow. He's been working with Lightroom from the beginning," The Adobe Lightroom Book By Martin Evening ISBN: 0321450035 Publisher: Adobe Press 0321450035_xs.jpg" Mind the Gap! Stand Clear of closing doors! The Bandwagon is fuelled up and rolling out! I wonder how he's going to fill the first 200 hundred pages with a recycled manual - since there isn't one ?

The Lightroom Shuffle

in Unsolicited, rabid opinions , Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hey ho. Key Lightroom cheerleader Michael Reichmann today posts: "...It is said that these will all come when when Beta 4 is released, at which point both the Windows and Mac versions will have parity. In any event, the few small missing items are not critical for anyone wanting to become familiar with the new software, which is likely to become one of the most popular raw image processing programs on the market." (my italics) Interesting bit of spin buried in there: as first heard on Lightroom Podcast 8, v1.0 at least is being subvervisely spun away from being a DAM-based product to "just" a RAW developer. Call me a conspiracy theory nut, but I just don't believe it is an accident. More like a clever bit of expectation management engineered by Adobe marketing. It also seems to be taking rather a long time to get to market - Beta 3 expires in Jan 07, and it seems a little unlikely that the expiry date would be set beyond a commercial release date - especially as their is a Beta 4 on the way. From what I know about software product management - which is quite a lot, actually - I'd say that they are suffering from considering far too many inputs and listening to far too many opinions. The product manager should not devolve the responsibility for a clear product vision to a forum of beta testers. I'm sure I would get tarred as totally negative if I posted this anywhere with high visibilty, but still, if this product was from anybody but Adobe, I cannot believe that it would attract quite such unquestioning praise and devotion from the "old boy" network. I wonder how they've diviied up the books ? Scott Kelby seems to have jumped the gun in a rather unsporting manner with his doubtless zany "Lightroom for Digital Photgraphers". (er, yeah ... so who else would it be for ? Fly fisherman ? Traffic Wardens ? Small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri ??) Anyway, bad news for whoever drew "DAM with Lightroom" out of the bag.

The Canary Project

in Photography , Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I received a message yesterday about The Canary Project, a photo-based campaign trying to alert people to the realities of global warming. It seems a pretty admirable initiative to me. I strongly recommend you take a look. I'll let the message speak for itself:
The Canary Project is an effort by photographer Susannah Sayler and a team of researchers, writers and designers to gather images of global warming and display those images in ways that bring them to the attention of the widest possible audience. You can see examples of the work and learn more about them here: During the month of July, Canary Project images will be on the sides of buses in Denver as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art's "Creative Acts That Matter" exhibit. You can see more of the Project's work and some of the bus images here:
I hope the buses are using low emission power :-) Anyway, please pass on the message. This is important stuff.

Bucharest 2006: a photo essay

in Photography , Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Like any place in a state of transition, Romania is a fascinating place. On the verge of EU membership, still recovering from the ravages of a megalomaniac dictator, with almost vanished memories of a brief prosperity, and with reminders in the most unlikely places of turn of the (19th) century elegance, this is a country which takes more than a while to get to grips with. Romania is an isolated Latin outpost, surrounded by Slavs and Balkans. Although claims of being the closest thing to a living relict of the Roman Empire are a bit far-fetched, it is certainly the case that the Romanian language is closer to Latin than is modern Italian. Culturally however Romania shows a closer proximity to France than to Italy. So all in all a very rich blend, with a very strong identity. E1_070806_71.jpg

Part of the Cantacuzino Palace (George Enescu museum)

Photographically speaking Romania is a treasure trove. Recently I had the opportunity to spend a few hours wandering around the centre of Bucharest, a city of many layers and many contrasts. In the early 1900s, Bucharest emulated and rivaled Paris. Buildings of all sizes, from palaces to family homes, show a strong Art Nouveau influence, although most are in a poor state of repair. Following the Second World War, Romania fell under the Soviet influence, and was severely punished for supporting Hitler's Germany. A period of Stalinisation followed, and the periphery of Bucharest, as well as most parts of Romania, is dominated by Soviet-style tower blocks. E1_070706_41.jpg

A typical unreconstructed tower block facade

Later, in the earlier period of Ceausecu's dominion, things were considerably more relaxed, and Romania was verging on non-aligned status. Unfortunately, towards the 1980s Ceausecu fell under Chinese influence and basically went mad. Vast swathes of Romanian countryside were collectivised, and large parts of historic Bucharest were demolished to make way for his megalomaniac plans to build a communist megapolis. Following the somewhat fabricated revolution in 1989, the country become a happy hunting ground for home-grown and foreign mafiosi (collectively known as the "Romanian government"), with the resulting creation of a small number of ultra-rich and a large number of very poor. In 2006, things seem to be improving, slowly, although it is extremely debatable how beneficial EU membership will be to the non-elite. E1_070606_14.jpg

The inevitable face of progress

There are layers, upon layers, upon layers in Bucharest. The country style houses of Sector 1, the restored palatial villas in the diplomatic areas, Ceausescu's civic center, remnants of communist-era shopfronts, elegant arcades, leafy, friendly parks, all mingling in with decaying communist tower blocks, and ultra-modern glass and concrete edifices. Every corner hides a surprise, for example a busy market full of the sort of fruit and vegetables that seem too tasty, too good, and especially far too cheap, to exist in Europe in 2006. E1_070606_19.jpg

Europe, from the market

Even the civic centre, with the unbelievable Casa Poporului (House of the People) as its focal point, starts to become acceptable, attractive even, with the numerous fountains restored to full working order, and the wide sidewalks line with leafy trees. The neoclassical Athenaeum is genuinely beautiful. Photographic opportunities are everywhere, and tourists are still thin on the ground. People are, by and large, extremely friendly and warm, although there are some aggressive beggars around. However, the number of hustlers and touts seems to have reduced a lot over the past few years. E1_070606_07.jpg

New use for old Style

Bucharest is changing very fast. Time will tell what happens next, if it retains its quirky identity or becomes a Eurostandard metropolis, but either way this period of transition will not last. No visit to Romania should end with Bucharest - you could spend years exploring this wonderful country - but it is a good place to start. E1_070606_35.jpg

Exchange. For better or for worse ?


Cartier Bresson in Romania

in Photography , Monday, July 10, 2006

Sometime in the mid 1970s, I believe, Henri Cartier Bresson visited Romania. I've only ever found two photographs of this period, this one, of a couple sleeping on a CFR train, which was published in "De qui s'agit'il ?" - hcb_cfr.jpg - and this one, of Bucovina, which I think is from "Les Europeens" PAR103227.jpg If anybody reading this knows of any others, I'd be very interested to hear of them. It is interesting, first because there is very little foreign photography of Romania of this period, at least that I know of, and secondly, because it was very late in HCB's active photographic career. Cristian Paul, writing from Bucharest, published a brief mention of the CFR photo on his, but that's all I can find.
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