Tuesday, September 8, 2020

COVID-19 and Photography: Part 1a, Update - Understanding how the virus spreads

COVID-19 Virus (Image Courtesy of the CDC)In the U.S., COVID-19 has already killed more than 193,000 people. It's done it in less than seven months. COVID-19 is a serious, highly infectious coronavirus. Since writing Part 1 of this series, nothing has changed about how serious the virus is and that photographers, amateurs and professionals alike, need to determine how to safely make photographs in the COVID-19 pandemic world. The photographic community needs to not only remain stay safe and healthy, but ensure, to the extent possible, that we don't spread the disease to others while making photographs.

While much about COVID-19 is still unknown, since writing Part 1 in late June, scientists have learned a great deal more about how the virus spreads. Here's what we know at this time.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mask Up! Social Distance! No Touching! — COVID-19 is alive and well

Opinion: From the desk of Ned S. Levi

COVID-19 Virus (Image Courtesy of the CDC)Today in the world, COVID-19 has infected more than 9.5 million people and taken more than 484,000 lives. In the U.S., COVID-19 has infected more than 2.4 million people and taken more than 124,000 lives.

Just yesterday, there were more than 173,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the world and more than 39,000 in the U.S. The fact is that COVID-19 is alive and well and still infecting and killing people, particularly those who don't remain on guard and cautious.

Any person who says that the fight against COVID-19 is over or remotely close to over is not telling the truth.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

COVID-19 and Photography: Part 1, Understanding how the virus spreads

COVID-19 Virus (Image Courtesy of the CDC)In the U.S., COVID-19 has killed more than 100,000 people. It's done it in less than five months. COVID-19 is a serious, highly infectious coronavirus. Photographers, amateurs and professionals alike, need to determine how to safely make photographs in the COVID-19 pandemic world. We need to not only stay safe and healthy ourselves, but ensure, as much as possible, that we don't spread the disease to others while making photographs.

While much about COVID-19 is still unknown, scientists have learned a great deal about how the virus spreads in the last several months. Here's what we know at this time.

COVID-19 transmission is primarily person-to-person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said for months that the primary way that COVID-19 spreads is person-to-person. It's spread mainly between people who are near to each other, six feet or closer, via respiratory droplets expelled from an infected person when they cough, sneeze, or merely talk. The droplets are inhaled by those nearby, infecting them. The CDC therefore recommends that during the pandemic, everyone “socially distances” by staying six feet or further from those around us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Daylight Saving Time and your camera

Paris, Musée d'Orsay, architect Victor Laloux's (1898-1900) clock at the front end of main hall.In most locations of North America, we just reset our clocks, moving the time forward one hour, in the “wee” hours of the morning, on Sunday, March 8th, to begin “Daylight Saving Time,” or “Daylight Time.” In some parts of North America, such as the states of Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation lands there) and Hawaii in the US, and most of Saskatchewan in Canada, “Daylight Time” isn't used. They stay on “Standard Time” throughout the year.

North America isn't alone in the world moving it's time forward in the spring and back in the fall. Across the globe, 79 nations use “Daylight Time” in at least part of their country. The Falkland Islands stay on “Daylight Time” throughout the year. Most countries on Earth, 159 at this time, remain in “Standard Time” all year.

For those countries which use “Daylight Time,” the date on which “Daylight Time” starts and ends varies from country to country, set by government regulation or law. It also varies according to which hemisphere each country is located, north or south.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year 2020 - Change your camera's copyright notice!

Happy New Year. I hope it's a happy and healthy year for you!

It's January 1, 2020. That means we may or may not be starting a new decade.

While it may look obvious that a new decade has begun, if we're consistent within our Gregorian calendar counting, we'll have to wait another year before that happens.

There's confusion about when decades start because Pope Gregory XIII, who in 1582 introduced the calendar most of the world uses, didn't start the calendar with year “0,” but started it with year “1.” In fact, in the Gregorian calendar, there is no year “zero.” From the year 1 BCE (formerly BC), the calendar goes to 1 CE (formerly AD).

Therefore, when a new century or millennia starts, it begins on a year that ends with a “1,” not a “0.” So, to be consistent, new decades should really start with a “1” too, but since we talk about decades belonging to teens, twenties, thirties, forties, etc., most people have gotten used to thinking decades start with the year at “0.”

It's time to reset your camera's copyright notice

Regardless of whether or not today starts a new decade, it does start a new year. That means it's time to reset the copyright notice in your camera to reflect the new year. Make sure your 2020 images have the correct metadata information embedded in them.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Photographing on railroad tracks can mean your death!

Strasburg Railroad, steam locomotive 89 manufactured by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1910Last month, a 17 year-old teenager from Oregon was having his high school senior portrait made. He and the photographer decided it would be a great idea to shoot it along railroad tracks. It wasn't a great idea. The young man was struck and killed in the midst of the session, while on the tracks, by a Union Pacific train in Troutdale.

A Union Pacific spokesperson said, “Our thoughts are with the teen’s family and friends. We plead with parents, students and photographers to not take photos on or near the tracks.”

Earlier this month, the Shiawassee, Michigan County Sheriff's Department reported that a photographer photographing the legendary Pere Marquette 1225 steam engine, known as the “North Pole Express,” featured in the animated film The Polar Express, was almost killed. In the words of the Sheriff's office, people “don't always use good judgment when watching or photographing her along the way.” A photographer had part of her coat literally ripped off her by the passing engine as she was photographing it. Fortunately, unlike the Oregon teenager, she's still alive and hopefully a lot wiser.

Making photographs while on train tracks and in train yards is very dangerous.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Street Photography: Children — law, morals & ethics, commonsense

Nanny and children at Parc Georges Brassens, ParisHenri Cartier-Bresson was a 20th century French photographer. He is considered the father of photojournalism and perhaps the most important pioneer of street photography.

Cartier-Bresson was more than a street photographer. His images transcended the genre in a way that street photographers aspire, but rarely achieve. Cartier-Bresson was a humanist photographer. His photographs tell the stories of human endeavor, customs, social and economic class, human character and characteristics, behavior and distinctiveness. His photographs purposefully witness human nature.

Cartier-Bresson walked the streets of the world from the 1930s through the early 1970s, after which he retired to drawing and painting until his death in 2004.

There was little fear of public photographers while Cartier-Bresson walked the streets of the world with his 35mm Leica, unlike the last four decades which have seen increasing fear of public photography, rising almost to hysteria after 9/11. Today, street photographers, particularly those photographing children, must balance their desire to capture candid storytelling moments, with the potential of physical attacks, and social media witch hunts with the potential to destroy one's reputation and career.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Wildlife photography ethics: Doing what's right!

Muskox at Renodde, Scoresby Sund, GreenlandA few years ago, I was traveling in Greenland. We landed ashore at Renodde, off Scoresby Sund, a large fjord system on the east coast of Greenland. It's rugged terrain there. Renodde is known for its muskox. Muskox are Arctic hoofed mammals of the Bovidae family. They're large, with adults averaging 4–5 feet high (1.1–1.5 meters) and weighing about 330–880 pounds (150–400 kilos), yet around humans, they're timid.

I was in the first group from our small ship to take a zodiac to land on Renodde. We hiked inland and climbed up to the top of a ridge. We noted the wind in order to stay downwind of any muskox we might encounter below the ridge. We put our cameras on silent mode and told those with us to stay low and speak in whispers.

As we slowly edged our heads above the ridgeline we were greeted by a male muskox on the large plateau below us, less than 150 feet (46 meters) away. To have one that close is a major treat. It was part of a four muskox herd. The others were about 1,000 feet (0.3 kilometers) away. The topography of the ridge made photographing the muskox difficult. Using my experience, I carefully moved to a better shooting position, bringing two others with me to the cutout where we could still remain hidden. I was able to make about a dozen images when it happened.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Photographing July 4th fireworks with your camera or smartphone

Philadelphia Museum of Art, July 4th FireworksThursday is July 4, Independence Day, in the U.S. The nation's second president, John Adams, is in large part responsible for how it's celebrated. In his July 3, 1776 letter to Abigail, his wife, he said that the day should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

The Pennsylvania Evening Post stated that in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, “The evening closed with the ring of bells and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons and the city was beautifully illuminated.”

Fireworks are extremely bright and persist for a few seconds, typically against an almost black background. Focus and particularly the exposure settings for fireworks' photos aren't straight-forward. If you're traveling in the U.S. this week, here are my fireworks' photography tips for digital cameras and smartphones.