Photographer Ira Block has a straightforward, haunting, unblinking look at the aftermath of September 11, 2001. As an internationally renowned shooter, Block has over thirty National Geographic stories under his belt. He is also a respected photo educator and workshop leader.
Due to restrictions in his agreement with National Geographic, we are unable to reproduce any of the images used in their story, which is now available for viewing on their site. Written by Luna Shyr, Block’s photos accompany her piece entitled “Starting from Ground Zero: Ten years after 9/11, how have the survivors healed—and what wounds still remain?”
A gallery show of these impressive images is scheduled for October 19th, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Foto Care in New York City.
You can see Block’s thoughts on the event, the subsequent images, and the intervening years in a new post on his blog.
Another impressive credit belonging to this photographer is Block taught the first creative digital photography class at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He regularly appears at workshops around the world. His blog on photography, photographic gear, and creativity, is not to be missed.
One of Alfie Goodrich’s earliest memories is at the age of three, sitting in a darkened living room, looking at his father’s slides projected onto a big screen. It left a lasting impression which would shape his career. At seven, his father helped kickstart his son’s love of photography further by passing down an old rangefinder camera.
Goodrich used the rangefinder until he joined the British Army. A knee injury got him discharged, and began a three year study of photography at an art college in the U.K. He spent the next nine years at a record company, working his way up to Director of Public Relations. Taking many photos during his time in the music business, he eventually managed a record label in London for a few years before turning to a solo career as a professional photographer.
Like many pro shooters, these days fashion photographer Simon Gerzina finds himself shooting less and less film. “It’s getting relegated to passion projects,” he says. “A lot of my clients and art directors are on the younger side, and they’re bullish about technology, even more than just a few years ago. That said, I own Nikon film bodies, an old Leica, an old Rolleiflex, but when it comes to the cameras which get pulled out for serious work and not playing around, it’s been my two Mamiyas.” For film he shoots the Mamiya RB67 shooting 120. “It’s been a tank in the studio, and a great option for shooting portraiture when you want it to be more atmospheric and a little more timeless.” He also shoots some beauty work with it.
“I also have a Mamiya 645AF. I’ve actually been using that more for fashion until the digital transition went over the hump. Now I use it more for portraiture in the studio or on location. I still use both cameras for passion projects, portraiture, or just walking around to shoot some film. I’ve been a Mamiya film shooter for years. In the future, I see myself transitioning back to medium format digital and using digital backs on the 645AFD.”
Film or digital, fashion or portraiture, we look forward to seeing more great working coming through the lenses of the talented Simon Gerzina.
Saffir gives good marks for ergonomics, quality, and shooting in lighting-controlled situations. He promised more review details in future posts. Check it out, and follow this Top 100 blogger on Twitter.
Somewhere in London, Paris Seawell is shooting film with his Mamiya, and the world is fortunate for that. Although he paints, creates sculpture, and has made a few short movies (such as This Place) his black and white photography is where his most accomplished artistic vision shines.
Seawell’s series entitled Semblance is a unique vision of distorting the human body with seemingly random but highly controlled projections onto his model, Agata Rybicka. The results range from the horrifying to the sublime, but always remain fascinating and undeniable. Semblance harkens back to André Kertész’s groundbreaking series Distortions, but Seawell doesn’t bend the body’s form with light—he projects a series of images onto it. A fingerprint, marker jottings, splashes, and the initial letters of the four DNA nitrogenous bases (G, C, T and A) are source materials for these projections. His goals are not only to get us to view the body differently, but to think.
Seawell considers himself an artist first and a photographer second, and this makes perfect sense. “To me, large parts of photography are about creating a frame of reference. This is a way of showing people how you think, and in turn, being able to compare that to how other people think,” Seawell says of his vision. Although he does shoot in color, he is more interested in working with shape, tone, form and texture at this time. People and their skin textures in particular are his primary inspiration and subject matter.
Proof of Life is about viewing the body differently, also, although the subjects are not manipulated with props. Scarred bodies themselves are the subjects, yet he consciously works to remove emotion from these photos. This series, he states, has more meaning than Semblance. “There’s more context, thought and philosophy around Proof of Life.” Originally conceived as an antidote to Robert Mapplethorpe’s perfect human forms, Seawell explains, “I don’t want to find the flaw or scar on a perfect body. I wanted to find the perfection in the flaw, and how the flaw can be beautiful.” Pointing to Jeffrey Silverthorne’s morgue photographs, Seawell strives for both stillness and mystery in these images. He’s not striving for romantic images and provides no backstory on his subjects and their wounds. This growing collection currently features an accident victim, an emergency surgery patient, a skin disease sufferer, and a self-harm patient. Other subjects are on the way, including a man aged 55. “These bodies are objects. Bodies are just things. I’m not objectifying the models, but showing the beauty of what and who they are.”
His frankness continues through to the equipment he uses and the photographic process he’s developed. Originally working with a digital SLR, Seawell quickly had a change of heart. “I got bored. It was too easy. I wasn’t learning anything about photography. It was shallow. When I found the Mamiya, it saved photography for me. It breathed life back into the process. It sounds stupid, but it was magic. I was shooting and I thought ‘this is how photography should be.’ I felt like a rockstar—like Avedon shooting Monroe or Leibovitz shooting Lennon. It’s not just nostalgia. A good comparison would be stairs and escalators to film and digital. People will always want to walk at their own pace, as opposed to having the work done for them.” There’s a tactile satisfaction Seawell reports with his Mamiya 645 1000s. “There’s the whirring of the winder and the clunk of the shutter. It’s brilliant. The mechanicalness of it makes you feel you’re accomplishing something.” Currently shooting with an original Mamiya 80mm lens, Seawell eventually wants to acquire a 645 AFD III.
Although the projections and scars may change, Paris Seawell can be counted on for his continuing vision of the uncommon and unspoken. An artist unafraid to show what is typically hidden both inside and out, Seawell plans on bringing us more images of the same. Viewers, no doubt, will continue to attempt to put their own stories to them and roam where Seawell’s textures may lead their eyes.
I have spent a lot of time over the last three weeks sorting through the images I recently captured and have learned more about both the camera-digital back combination and techniques for bringing out the best of the images during post-processing. The first thing I noticed about the panoromas I had stitched was how sharp they were, even before any post-processing sharpening. I have yet to see a landscape image that didn’t benefit from some sharpening, but having such clean files to work with meant that a minimum of sharpening created incredible results.
With my tripod level and a safe margin of overlap for each segment, I was able to capture panoramic images that stitched flawlessly using Photoshop CS3’s automated Photomerge. This is found in CS3 under File-Automate-Photomerge. Since my tripod was level and I most frequently used the 80mm Sekor AF f/2.8 D lens, I chose “reposition” and lost very little of the combined captures when cropping. The 80mm lens being the equivalent to a 50mm on an SLR body, there is no perspective change which results in the most natural image possible. The image titled “Lake Powell Marina Morning” was captured at f5.6 at 1/250th of a second at an ISO of 100. Even though this is plenty of shutter speed, I like to be extra cautious and used the mirror lock function of the AFDIII for each panel. This function on the camera is very easy to use – simply choose the Mirror Up function on the shutter release dial and press the shutter once to lock the mirror, then once more to make the exposure. This minimizes any movement caused by the motion of the mirror and allows perfect alignment when stitching panoramic images and sharp captures when using lower shutter speeds.
After stitching the frames in Photoshop (there were three in this image) I made some tonal adjustment using my new favorite plug-in – Nik Software’s Viveza. One of the issues when shooting landscapes, particularly panoramics, is that the color temperature can vary widely over the breadth of the scene. Viveza is the most organic, intuitive and easy to use way to correct for this. There is a free, fully functional demo download at www.niksoftware.com. I’m well versed in performing selective corrections in Photoshop, but this software saved me lots of time and produced outstanding results.
The last step I take for most every landscape is some amount of sharpening. My favorite settings for landscapes I took with my DSLR was to use the Smart Sharpen filter with the amount between 75 and 180 and the radius set to 0.8 pixels to remove Gaussian Blur. With the Mamiya AFDIII coupled with the 80mm lens and Aptus 65 Back I only use an amount between 25 and 50 because the images are already so sharp. Take a look at the detail section taken out of the image to see the clarity. Also note that this image is 20×48” at 240 dpi – the text on the prow of the “Canyon Explorer” is only ½ across at this print size – pretty amazing clarity that simply can’t be matched on a DSLR.
Palm Springs, CA. Beautiful weather. Sunny skies. More golf courses than you can count. It also happens to be home to Ian Sitren, photographer extraordinaire, who shoots a broad range of subjects from portraits to real estate to commercials to fashion. But his most eye-catching work is of body-building athletes.
He currently works with the 645 AFD III and film (remember that?) and says a lot of us are missing out not using film in certain situations. Now if the photographer looked like that, imagine how much equipment he could carry? He probably wouldn’t need so many assistants. Link: Ian’s site