Photography Legends #4 – Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz (October 2, 1949) started working as a staff photographer in 1970, with the then starting magazine Rolling Stone. In 1973 she became Chief Photographer for the magazine and held the job for over 10 years. Leibovitz worked for the magazine until 1983, and her intimate photographs of celebrities helped define the Rolling Stone look.While working for Rolling Stone, Leibovitz became more aware of the other magazines. Richard Avedon‘s portraits were an important and powerful example in her life. She learned that you can work for magazines and still do your own personal work, which for her was the most important thing.

On December 8, 1980, Leibovitz had a photo shoot with John Lennon for Rolling Stone, promising him that he would make the cover. She had initially tried to get a picture with just Lennon alone, which is what Rolling Stone wanted, but Lennon insisted that both he and Yoko Ono be on the cover. Leibovitz then tried to re-create something like the kissing scene from the Double Fantasy album cover, a picture that she loved. She had John remove his clothes and curl up next to Yoko. Leibovitz recalls, “What is interesting is she said she’d take her top off and I said, ‘Leave everything on’ — not really preconceiving the picture at all. Then he curled up next to her and it was very, very strong. You couldn’t help but feel that she was cold and he looked like he was clinging on to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited. John said, ‘You’ve captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it’ll be on the cover.’ I looked him in the eye and we shook on it.” Leibovitz was the last person to professionally photograph Lennon—he was shot and killed five hours later.

In February 2009, Leibovitz borrowed $15.5 million, having experienced financial challenges in the recent years. She put up as collateral, not only several houses, but the rights to all of her photographs.

Yoko Ono & John Lennon

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Talking Digital Photo Books

Remember taking photos and having to develop the film? Spending ages to sort out the prints you wanted to put in a book. Then having to decide on the sizes and if they would all fit in your album? Spend even more time on having to glue them all there…

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Photography Legends #3 – Erwin Olaf

Born in Hilversum in the Netherlands in 1959, Erwin Olaf lives and works in Amsterdam since the early 80’s. Mixing photojournalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged in the international art scene in 1988 when his series ‘Chessmen’ was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. Since then Olaf has continued to explore issues of gender, sensuality, humor, despair and grace in each successive series.

Printing his early work in documentary style black-and-white, he first gradually introduced color and then digital manipulation. There is great contrast between each series. In his four most recent series Rain, Hope, Grief and Fall, Erwin Olaf returns to classic imagery with minimal computer retouching.

Video and film offer new possibilities to explore. His first film Tadzio (1991, co-directed with painter F. Franciscus) was soon followed by comic videos for children’s television, short documentaries, music clips and commissions by the Dutch National Ballet. Recently Olaf has created autonomous video works like Separation, Rain and Grief, starring models who also appear in the accompanying photo series. In the films they play a different character, as though his moving images provide a parallel history to his color photographs. These short films have been selected for film festivals all over the world.

Over the years many of Olaf’s works – from his unabashed nude portraiture and intense symbolism to the unflinching gaze in his blood-drenched images of staged violence – have provoked controversy. Not surprisingly, this ability to attract attention has seen his work embraced by the advertising world, resulting in commercials for Lavazza, BMW, Microsoft and Nintendo among many others. Lately Erwin is frequently shooting in commission for magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Elle and Citizen K.

Dutch National Soccer Team "New Warriors"

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Ugly pictures….

Whilst some have it and some don’t – it is always debatable what defines beauty and what defines not so beautiful. And then of course, that opinion varies from person to person.

As for myself,  i find it rewarding to take pictures of people and portray them as beautiful as i can. Being quite the perfectionist myself, i throw out pictures that aren’t good enough in my opinion. Be it the lighting, the angle or the background. Same goes for my landscapes… I just don’t like to have people walking in them.

Having said that, i also don’t believe in photoshopping so much that it changes a person. Authenticity makes the person and is therefor beautiful in my book. The other day my friend and i came up with the idea to go out one day and take pictures of really ugly things, just to challenge ourselves and not be so idealistic about just trying to take beautiful images…

We will do that someday soon – but then i saw these photos and it made me realize: although every person is unique and beautiful in their own way – for animals that is certainly not always the case….

By: GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

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HDR Pictures

They are stunning, some seem unreal but they are not. What’s the trick, or rather the technique behind these beautiful colored and painting-like pictures? It is called HDR photography. And if you can set you aperture and exposure time and have photomatix and  perhaps photoshop, you can come a long way.

What is HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It is post-processing of a series of images using different apertures or shutter speeds – combining these and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are almost impossible to do with single aperture and shutter speed. It gives the images an all new look and feel. It becomes more than a normal photograph.

How to create a HDR picture?
HDR pictures are created in a few steps : you’ll need 3 to 5 pictures with a different range in light. The easiest way to create this is to use the camera’s autobracketing function and for example set it to : -2 / 0 / +2  The camera will then on release take 3 pictures with the different varieties in aperture. You will want to use a tripod to stop the camera for shaking or being slightly off.  Import the three or more pictures in Photomatix and it will create one jpg. picture for you. You upload this one as a layer in Photoshop. Then you import the 3 other pictures as layers and you mask and brush as if your life depended on it. Ofcourse – there are more steps in between and you might want to figure out all the settings in Photomax and Photoshop. For all the steps and the full “how to” there is a truly great tutorial site for creating those stunning HDR pictures : http://www.stuckincustoms.com/hdr-tutorial/

Some examples :

By: Matthew Sullivan

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5 Easy photography tips

Photography is all about capturing what you see in that moment. If you have a good camera, that’s great. But what you really need is good sight and creativity. If you are creative, that’s half of your great picture. Below are 5 easy to follow photography tips to help you get the bold and eyecatching photo people will look at.

Focus on your subject – When shooting a portrait, either inside or outside, take a few steps back, use a longer lens and set the aperture to create a blurry background. This will put the focus on the person, rather than what is going on around them. When the sun is out, shadows can appear very harsh which doesn’t do any favours to a persons face. Using a little bit of flash can sort this problem out.

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Photography Legends #2 – Steve Bloom

(www.stevebloomphoto.com)

A writer and a photographic artist who specialises in evocative images of the living world. Born in South Africa in 1953, he first used the camera to document life in South Africa during the apartheid years. He moved to England in 1977 and co-founded one of London’s leading photographic special effects companies. In the early nineties, during a safari holiday, he began photographing animals, and within a short time he had swapped his established city career for the precarious life of an international travelling photographer. Steve Bloom’s concern for the environment is strongly evident in his wildlife images. He strives to capture the animal’s spirit, and blur the lines separating different species.

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