Friday, September 25, 2009

Difference Makers in Washington DC

I came back from DC with three new sets of portraits of some magnificent leaders.

Van Jones, founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green for Alll, co-founder of Color of Change.

Steve Coleman, Executive Director of Washington Parks & People, and founder of Cool Capital, overlooks, from the balcony of the "Green Embassy", the Meridian Hill Park, which he helped restore.

Lester Brown, author, founder/president of Earth Policy Institute.

Photos: ©2009 Isaac Hernández, all rights reserved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Michelle Obama Superstar

In DC for less than a day, and I got to see Michelle Obama inaugurate the "Fresh Farms by the White House" farmers market, alongside USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and other photo opportunists. She told us to "know our farmer." I was there covering the event for El Mundo newspaper in Spain.
I also witnessed the First Lady shopping for organic produce at the Sunnyside Farms stand. I was thrilled to find she brought her own basket!

I love tomatoes, but not necessarily cherry tomatoes (because the way the explode in the mouth when one bites them). Still, this photo makes me want to eat some.
I don't know if this photo will make Barack Obama want to eat beets. I love beets, but not our President. Pictured is Casey Gustowarow, from Sunnyside Farms. Casey crossed the USA on a bus, right after the last presidential election, asking for an organic farm in the White House.
Finally, I couldn't resist standing in the place where Michelle Obama had been just minutes before.
I'm posting more photos of DC in the Mercury Press archives. Correction, I posted the photos. You can go straight to them here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Best Cover

Do you want to sell magazines? Be creative. That's what the American Society of Magazine Editors is doing, by making their annual Best Cover of the Year contest open to the public at Amazon (here) and offering subscriptions in the process. The year is not over yet, you may say... but we better sell magazines while we can. :) Even if you don't need $10,000 extra cash in your pocket, it's delightful to see the great covers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Flexible OLED screen

Is this the future of publishing? Once electronic magazines feel like paper magazines, will people be willing to pay for a subscription as they do for the paper counterparts? In this case, will editorial groups pay more for electronic rights?

Better in Japanese:

I've been dreaming about this technology for many years. Sony is making my dreams real.


The New York Times Lens blog published a very insightful story on the death of Lance Cpl. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Me., and The Associated Press' choice to release the image of the mortally wounded soldier, by photographer Julie Jacobson. The Marine's father, John Bernard, requested for the image not to be released. I can completely understand his request. I would have done the same thing if he was my son. Personally, I wouldn't want to see the picture of my son dying as I was browsing a newspaper. However, the Internet allows for news sites to warn people about content before "passing the page", and the NYT did this very tactfully. And I think it's important that we know the consequences of war, and the price we have to pay. Mr. Bernard, I thought you'd like to know that the memory of your son is honored greatly by all of us, and seeing the picture we share your pain.

Thank you AP for consulting with the family. Did anybody consult the families of the victims of 9/11 before the videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers were shown over and over? Yes, it was important to see. But did we have to see them so many times? Did we get warnings about the "explicit images" before they were shown?

Perhaps the reason is that the 9/11 images were building a case for a war against an invisible enemy. And Jacobson's image shows the reality of that war. God save us, this photo may shift our priorities and have our country demand the end of illegal wars and torture; and we may even ask to have money taken out of the obscene military budget and used for the education and health care of our children. Wait, we asked for that already.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrote to The Associated Press: “Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”

Mr. Gates, I applaud our military for their self-less service to our country, and I question our willingness to readily go to war. Excuse me if I borrow your words for my response to you: “Why your organization (my government) would purposefully defy the family’s wishes (millions of Americans marching against the invasion of Iraq) knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish (tens of thousands of civilian and military deaths) is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing (to put our children at risk of being maimed and stricken) is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”

Thank you soldiers for defending my freedom of speech. I'm sorry some of you had to die for it. Come home soon. Your families and loved ones miss you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Om

A few more photos that I'm allowed to share from the Om photoshoot for Boxtales.

New Canon 7D announced

Is the Canon 7D my next camera?

Two newly posted items a the Canon site. The first Canon post talks extensively about the new auto focus features. What an improvement compared to my first digital camera, the Canon D60, which had an out-of focus system! The AF in the 60D wasn't that great either. This 18 megapixel camera is an improvement over the 50D, but the 60D name was taken already, so they went to 7D, rather than 70D. The price is supposed to be $1,699, according to PDN, and it will be available in September.

Some AF highlights are:

-New AF features similar to those in the 50D, plus a completely new option: single AF point of reduced dimensions.
-AF Point Expansion like the one that’s been available on EOS-1D series cameras.
-My favorite: Zone AF, not available in any SLR cameras before.
The second article summarizes the video capabilities, which are the most exciting, since the 7D fixes all the bugs of the 5D Mark II and adds some cool features. But notice that the 7D is not a 5D Mark II replacement, as the resolution is smaller and it's not a full frame camera; the sensor magnifies the image by a factor of 1.6x.
New EOS Movie features in the EOS 7D:  
New easy to find Start/Stop button for video recording. 
AF activated by shutter button (or by the rear button via customization menu) during video recording! 
Manual exposure control during video recording. 
Adjustable video frame rates at highest Full HD quality setting: 1920 x 1080 HD: 30 fps (actual 29.97 fps) or 24 fps (actual 23.976 fps); 25 fps in PAL. 
High-speed 60 fps recording at reduced resolution settings: 1280 x 720 HD and 640 x 480 standard def: 60 fps (actual 59.94 fps) or actual 50 fps (when set to PAL).
I will keep my ears open with my Canon insiders for release dates and pricing information.
Note to self, ask Canon for a pre-production 7D to be part of the development of the camera. Produce a video that makes more sense than Vincent Laforet's Reverie.

Quick photo archiving lesson

©2009 Isaac Hernandez, All Rights Reserved

I was asked by a fan to write about archiving and sharpening, and whether sharpening comes last in the process, and if there's a different workflow for print or web photos. If you're nor archiving your photos, it's never too late to start, but do it now! Here are some tips. Feel free to write with more questions.

There are several good books on photographic workflow. The most famous is perhaps The DAM book, by Peter Krogh, DAM as in Digital Asset Management. It was my introduction to dealing with tens of thousands of images, and of great help, although I found some of the steps overly complicated. I recommend checking other people's systems and then developing your own.

The first step in a workflow system is to decide which software you're going to use. I find Adobe Lightroom ($299) to work for me, as a professional photographer. Apple Aperture ($199) is another professional choice (only for Mac), which has some advantages when it comes to sharing your work, with a better email and layout interface.

Krogh liked iView Media Pro, so I used it before it was bought by Microsoft and turned into Microsoft Expression Media. I haven't tried their last version yet. I don't know if it's even available. When I try to "buy it", I got lost in the Microsoft web labyrinth. Now Krogh recommends Adobe Bridge (part of the Creative Suite), but I prefer Lightroom, except when archiving CMYK files (for which I use my old iView Media Pro). Lightroom doesn't like CMYK files (Note to self, tell Adobe to make Lightroom see CMYK files, even if it couldn't modify them).

When it comes to Lightroom, I like Michael Clark's workflow guide, ($24.95 as an eBook). It covers everything from how to set up your camera for best results, to the printing process, and yes, sharpening, which, comes last. When you sharpen you want to save your file as a copy, because it degrades the image, even as it improves it. You are basically increasing the contrast in the edges of the photo, losing information.

That's the beauty of Lightroom and Aperture, you can toy around with your images, improving contrast, doing sepia tones or whathaveyou, without losing the original image. Everything is saved as an additional ones and zeros while preserving your master file.

Unfortunately, workflow is more than just playing around with fancy filters, it requires the discipline of copying the files to the right directory, making back-up copies, renaming files in a way that avoids confustion, rating the images so that you can easily search for your best work, adding keywords to the images again to make it easier to actually use your images, and exporting them to a final file (which Krogh calls a "derivative"), from which you will make a print or post
it on the web. Think of your master file as the negative, which you work on and process, and of the derivative as the print.

The difference in flow for web or print comes only at the end, when you export the file, choosing one size or another. Each size will require a different level of sharpening. Luckily, Lightroom and Aperture make that last step very easy, with pre-configured levels of sharpening, which works for the most part. For more sharpening control, you would want to go to Adobe Photoshop.

There's so much to learn about taking care of our archives, that one could have a blog just on this subject. It's good to start organizing those files now, before we are inundated and so overwhelmed that we wish that a fire would just take everything away.