Hotel view and panoramas in Prague

"It must be great to travel so much!", is what people sometimes say to me. To counter the idea that travel for work is as nice as traveling for pleasure, I once started to make a series of depressing photos from my hotel windows in famous cities--often the only thing I'd see, apart from conference rooms, airports, and the (traffic-laden) road in between. That series started in the days of analogous photography (but was not kept well-organised), and sometimes I still add to it. Prague is a great city to add to that series of sadness: although much has been restored since I first saw the city, just after the Fall of the Wall, there still are views of "maintenance wanted" situations and one of those was right opposite my hotel room, across a narrow street in the Old Town.

This time, the trip had its nice, touristy moments: we had some time to enjoy the panoramas of the city. Can you spot the post-processing, apart from the obvious cropping? I guess you can: in both cases I made the sky more 'dramatic' by reducing the exposure locally by about one stop. Of course I tried to make the effect as much as possible look as if I had used a graded neutral density filter.

By the way, these pictures were taken with a normal compact camera (it is not worthwhile carrying the DSLR for those few photo occasions). I am quite satisfied with the results of the Lumix TZ-5: good colour rendition, good resolution. Too bad it's all in Jpeg, though.


Protocol for News Pictures: End of Discussion?

Two major players in the Dutch news market, press agency ANP and photo agency Hollandse Hoogte agreed on a protocol for news photographers. Their aim is to end the discussion about trustworthiness and reliability of photos in the news. The protocol rightly starts from before the photo is taken: no manipulation of the situation. And then the simple rule is: no change of the photo afterwards. This means: no elements put in, nor taken out. All the old-fashioned dark room techniques of adapting white balance, changing contrast or burning are allowed.
Seems a decent end of the discussion to me. And we amateurs can of course still do whatever we like--which for me is not much more than what a journalist may do! For me personally the difference is that I do not have to convey a news-type message, but want viewers to see reality in a different perspective--in a new light, perhaps.


Lightroom 2.3 update

I haven't been following the forums lately, so it was Lightroom itself that--when I started the programme--alerted me to the fact that version 2.3 is available for download. Mainly interesting for owners of specific cameras (some Panasonic and Leica cameras, if I saw it well) and some bug fixes. Still, one wants to remains up-to-date with the software.


John, Yoko and Archiving

A 15-year student, wanting to become a photographer, forged a press card to get into the famous bed-in press session of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the Amsterdam Hilton hotel, in 1969. Govert de Roos, who went on to become a professional glamour photographer, was quoted in my newspaper magazine "M" saying that het was so nervous that after shooting one roll, he sneaked out for fear of being found out. One of his photos was published, but the others were lost. Until, that is, De Roos's daughter found the sheet with the negatives back, almost 40 years later--mislaid among family pictures. The 40-year anniversary of the bed-in (and finding back the photos) was the occasion for an exhibition.
Lesson for us, 21st century digital photographers: use keywords to archive your pictures! And do it as soon as you upload from your camera to your computer...

Believers in reality--aren't we all?

Every now and again the discussion flares up: is post-processing of photos allowed? The main problem is of course that "the belief remains that
when there are no obvious clues concerning image manipulation, the image must depict reality" as a student in Media from Amsterdam, Alexander van Dongen, wrote in his 2006 thesis, which I stumbled upon in the Net. At the same time: the charm of photography is precisely its 'believability', its truth-likeness. It would not be fun if viewers did not believe that the photo was real.
To me the issue remains contextual--and then it's simple: if you want to convey a message of reality, then no fooling around is allowed beyond general interpretation of the sensor data (i.e. making truthlike colours by adjusting the white-balance, adjusting erroneous exposure and the like). If the aim is just to please the viewer's eye, then all is allowed.
But we don't believe in the self-organising force of the market anymore: it has become only too clear that markets may be good at coordinating supply and demand of simple goods, but when cheating is possible, it will happen, so that controls on honesty are necessary. Newspaper editors, photo award juries etc. are the public's agents in that respect. How they make their "contracts" with photographers, may be an interesting question for researchers of property rights theory, or principal-agent theory. For me the poitn is: I want to trust my newspaper--and I want to enjoy pictures at an exhibition for what they are.


Twente landscape

High time for a drink--I had a thermos full of coffee in the rucksack. And of course no bench to be seen, but it was too cold to sit on the bare earth. Some time later, at the corner of a dirt road, a bench came in view. Finally! I did sit down, I did drink my nicely hot coffee, but hardly dared to look behind me. I was walking to enjoy the landscape of Twente, but my idea of tourism was quite different from what someone had done at that corner of the road: put his old and decrepit holiday caravan on show. For sale!

The only way to picture this, I thought, was in black-and-white and with a heavy sky (that needed some post-processing, as it really was a light-grey deck of clouds). Previsioned & executed later the same day--I just love digital photography!


Stumbled upon: JuanKa

Googling more links around the BBC's 'Genius of Photography' series, I stumbled upon a fellow-blogger. Great animal pictures from someone calling himself Juanka, living practically in the Everglades national park, Florida USA. Have a look yourself through this link. Amazing!

Photos on TV: BBC Documentary Series 'Genius of Photography'

A must-see for photographers--and I missed the first episode and a half! This is BBC's series 'the Genius of Photography', advertised as 'Documentary series exploring the history of photography - from daguerreotype to digital, from portraits to photo-journalism, from art to advertising.' Has been aired on BBC Four in 2007 and 2008, apparently, but our cable company gives BBC 2, which is doing the 6-weeks' series now: every Saturday, 7 to 8 PM, Greenwich time.
The BBC does not have it on iPlayer, due to 'rights restrictions', but luckily salvation can be found in the Net. No more time for writing; I must catch up with last week, first!