Travel And Photos: Looking At Light

Few people, including myself, have the luxury of staying in each travel destination long enough to feel that there was nothing more to shoot. To compensate for the brief time spent in any one place, your photographic eye must be constantly scanning the environment for images that offer strong compositions, good lighting and that communicate–without words–the feeling of the culture.

monasteryThere are basically two categories of pictures that I focus on for each location. The first is the establishing shot. This could be the skyline of Frankfurt, the Grand Canal in Venice or a wide-angle view of the Pushkar Fair in India. These kinds of pictures quickly identify a place and provide a segue into the rest of the pictures–either in a slide show or a magazine layout. The second category is the detail photography. This could be an intimate portrait of a child, a flower-framed window, a woman handmaking a doll, inlaid jewels on a Buddha or thousands of other pictures that allow us to know another place.

The picture you see reproduced here is a detail I found in a monastery near Mandalay in Myanmar. The hand-carved wooden building was beautiful and unique, but it just didn’t make a good picture. Good lighting and strong composition were lacking. No photography was possible without a massive lighting setup. The young monks were willing to be photographed, but finding a location that worked was tough. I wanted to incorporate both the artistry of the building as well as one of the young Buddhist initiates. Trying to accomplish this with spontaneity was virtually impossible–unless perhaps I lived here for a few weeks.

I chose the side of the wooden monastery away from the sun for the shoot. Most photographers would opt for the sunny side, where the bright light guaranteed a reasonable shutter speed and a sensible amount of depth of field. But the midday lighting was harsh and casting unattractive shadows. I didn’t like it. Instead, I asked one of the monks–through an interpreter–if he would position himself in one of the shaded doors. This was actually a double door, but I kept one closed to show the ornate detail of the carving.

The challenge in photographing people who are not professional models is that they just don’t know how to look natural in front of a camera. No one knows where to put their hands, how to stand or where to look. This is especially true for self-conscious and shy people encountered in traveling.

When this young boy stood before my lens, he was very stiff, stared straight ahead and looked like a lifeless mummy. Realizing that kind of picture would not be the “timeless image” I referred to earlier, I patiently guided him into assuming a more natural pose. I told him where to place his foot, how to hold the edge of the door frame (I even spread his fingers apart), and where to look. When all this was done, his body was not quite out far enough in the light, so with a simple hand gesture and a smile I communicated what I wanted and he obliged by pressing forward a few inches.

I wouldn’t have trusted a TTL meter to read the light in a situation like this. The dark brown wood of the doorway would adversely affect the meter reading. The reflective meter, seeking to neutralize the scene to mid-gray (or Zone V), would indicate a reading to lighten the brown color. The effect would be a loss in the richness of the tones in the picture. In other words, it would become overexposed.

A reading could have been taken from the young monk’s face, but instead I used the Minolta Flash Meter IV that is also capable of providing very accurate incident ambient-light readings. I held the meter in front of the model and pointed the front of it toward the camera. In this way, the light that fell on the monk was identical to the light falling on the white hemisphere of the meter. At ISO 50, the reading was 1/30 at f/4.

My lens choice was limited, because the second-story balcony on which I was standing was about 12 feet wide. Since I couldn’t use a telephoto, and didn’t want any type of distortion with a wide-angle, I selected the standard normal lens for the 6×7 cm format–the 110mm. Through the interpreter, I asked the monk to remain perfectly still while I made several exposures without bracketing. A few of the frames were soft, due to the long shutter speed, but most were sharp.

Talking About Hyperspectral Imaging

Imaging remains a key focus of this site, and will be forever. While I’ll grant you that our original focus on photography alone was a solid one, recently, we have decided to expand what we write about here into more esoteric concerns, as well as those concerning personal health. But that does not take away, for sure, our original focus, which remains key to our heart.

Today I’d like to look at Hyperspectral Imaging – an area that is seldom talked about in the photography community, but one that has a great number of scientific applications that not only help with business, but with society in general.

To explain: hyperspectral imaging basically collects and processes data from across the electromagnetic spectrum in order to analyze a wide variety of things. All of this information is of course not available to the naked eye, and is particularly useful in a lot of different fields, such as agriculture, physics, mineralogy as well as for surveillance. The military surveillance sector remains the key component for hyperspectral imaging companies like Surface Optics, as it is where hyper and multispectral imaging is incredibly popular.

Another important thing to know is that the acquisition and processing of these hyperspectral images is often referred to as imaging spectroscopy.

This a fairly leading edge industry, of course, particularly because of the fact that the equipment tends to be very expensive. This is an “engineers and scientists” movement only, as currently the technology is something that is out of reach for most businesses.

Mineralogy And Mining

But did you know that hyperspectral imaging is particularly important for things like mining and oil drilling? The key, of course, is the fact that changing electromagnetic fields tend to tell you a lot, so a good hyperspectral imager can actually detect the presence of certain minerals – sometimes from incredibly huge distances (i.e. from space). The technology is beginning to be placed in satellites, which allows geologists to gain a rather amazing “macro view” of the terrain they are dealing with. Diamonds, as an example, are particularly easy to spot from airborne images, which makes this particular technology huge for companies in that sector.

Keeping Us Safe

I guess one of the key things that struck me about hyperspectral imaging is the fact that it can actually detect chemical warfare agents. This is something I’m sure the Bush administration could have used, at least before they decided to get us into a massively long war. Although there are those that would say that the moment Desert Storm was lost, Iraqi Freedom was basically in the planning.

All in all, it’s an exciting field, and one that I was pleased to find out about.

Choosing A Technician To Fix Hard Drive Failure

fixing-hard-drivesWhen you are experiencing computer problems, you have to hire a technician who can fix hard drive failures efficiently. There are a number of computer technicians these days who offer different kinds of expertise, services and prices. The challenge now is to find the right technician who can deliver the right data recovery service for your needs at a reasonable price. If you are searching in the web, make sure that you gather all the important data of these companies and compare them one by one. If you are asking for recommendations, make sure also that the technician is a reliable person who can fix hard drive failure without causing potential damages.

You can always have the best technician if you carefully choose one. As much as possible, save all the important data in a backup system before letting him manipulate the hard drive. Although the technician knows what to do already prior to repair, it is always best to ensure your files are safe beforehand. Ask several tips on how to avoid malfunction hard drive in the future. A computer hard drive will later on wore out but you can do preventive measure to lengthen its purpose.

It is also important that to remember that when it comes to recovering data, which typically involves fixing the hard drive, you must remember to get the right provider (a good note on that is here).

There Are Good, And Bad Providers – Buyer Beware!

Understand also that the industry is rife with rather sketchy data recovery scams. The previously linked provider, sadly, has a history of holding hard drives hostage, and not paying vendors. Because this is such a specialized industry, it tends to be quite expensive for customers, and also attract some really dishonest vendors, much like Eco. Stay away from these guys and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.

Find a good provider, though, and you’ll come out on top with all of your data intact.

Turbo Storytelling – Writing For Lightning Quick Books!

What used to be considered a fast turnaround has become the norm for today’s writers. Here’s how they’re coping with writing in the lightning age.

The definition for what constitutes an instant or “quickie” book has evolved with the advent of less-than-one-minute printers such as IBM’s InfoPrint 4000, services such as Ingram Book Group’s Lightning Print and e-books. As a result, what used to be considered a fast turnaround–four or five months–is now not considered “instant” at all.

To Judith Regan, editor and publisher of Regan Books at HarperCollins, an instant book is simply a book with a quick turn-around. “Instant book only means that the process of producing it goes very fast,” she says. “Instant books are things that happen in a weekend, like Ken Starr’s book.” But typically, she concedes, most books with a quick production turnaround are tied into news events.

“You have to have timeliness and you have to have quality,” Regan says. “I did [O.J. Simpson prosecution team member] Christopher Darden’s book within three months of the trial. It was one of the first books published about the trial and it was by far the most successful. It also has to be a very good book, and this was a quality book that was written quickly and published quickly and as a result, it was the most successful title.”

True Crime and Pop Stars

Last month Regan published The Summer Wind, by George Anastasia, an award-winning journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s the story of Thomas Capano, a lawyer and high-ranking politician in the elite of Wilmington, Del., society, who was found guilty of murdering Anne Marie Fahey, his mistress and the Delaware governor’s secretary.

With true crime books, both Regan and Anastasia agree timeliness is half the battle. To make sure his book released on time, Anastasia was on a tight deadline and consulted with experts. Tighter than he would have liked, he admits. “I had to have the manuscript done by July 1, and the trial didn’t end until the end of January, so we’re talking five months.” The Summer Wind does have competition. There are three other books on the topic–two hardback and one paperback–scheduled to hit bookstores this fall. “Jokingly, but I think with a lot of truth to it, Judith Regan said to me when she bought the book, ‘whoever’s first wins,”‘ says Anastasia. “And I think that applies. The paperback and hardback are different markets, but whoever is first in each genre is better off, and because there’s four books, you know, how, much can the market take?”

The flip side to tight deadlines is a fast turnaround from manuscript to book. Anastasia saw his book hit stores Sept. 16, two and a half months after he kissed the goodbye at Regan’s door. “It’s manuscript great! It’s quick ego gratification. Doing books, it’s been, you turn in the manuscript and in a year you see the book, and it’s almost in the past already when the book comes out.”

Writer Alix Strauss writes entertainment books in three weeks for St. Martin’s Press. Work with young-adult magazines such as Seventeen and Twist and a background teaching drama at Dalton High School in New York prepared her for books on teen pop stars such as Britney Spears and the musical group No Authority. But nothing could prepare her for the pace: “One week I spend researching: The next I write and go back to get information I’ve missed, and the third I’m revising and refining the manuscript.” After that, says Strauss, it’s off to the editor and onto the newsstand within a month.

Instant books fill curious readers in where magazines and newspapers have left off. They provide in-depth background at a time when a topic is hot and readers aren’t able to wade through piles of newspaper and magazine articles to get the full picture. To fill that need, writers have to be able to produce fast, quality work, and that’s hard to find these days, Regan says.

“Every book has its own life. Not everybody can write quickly and think quickly and develop quickly. Some people have to take a year or take three years to write a book,” she says.

Lawrence Schiller, author of Perfect Murder, Perfect Town (HarperCollins) works on newsworthy cases, but that book, about the JonBenet Ramsey slaying, was his first on a tight deadline. He started working on the story for The New Yorker in May 1997 and began the book in the last week of April 1998. The delivery date was Dec. 28, and the book was published by its publisher on Feb. 17.

“I tell the story’ behind the headlines, behind the six o’clock news or morning newspapers,” Schiller says. “I try to put things in historical perspective and take them out of the context of sound bites and wire-service reporting. Sometimes I interview people 100 to 200 hours over four to five months.” His previous work includes American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense (Avon) and as interviewer for Simpson’s I Want to Tell You.

Schiller says he did have to sacrifice some editorial content for the tight deadline he faced with Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, and says he wouldn’t do it again. “I regret certain things,” he says. “The publisher felt the delivery date was important because -nobody knew what the grand jury was going to do. Therefore I had to end the book in a certain way which I would rather have not…. I could have used another three months on the book to edit it and end it a different way.”

Cracking the Market

How do you become an instant book author? Judith Regan gets “lots of proposals” each year. “But,” she says, “I don’t think I’ve ever published an instant book that I’ve received a proposal for.”

For Strauss, her work with young-adult magazines gave her credibility, and’ magazine articles she showed editor Joe Veltre proved she could speak to the market when a project came along. However, “Even though I had written the Spears book, I still had to do a proposal for No Authority,” she says. “You have to write a proposal that shows you know what you’re talking about. It’s short, only a page and a brief outline of how you would handle the subject.”

Anastasia had also done work in the area where he landed his first true crime book deal. “In 1980 I started writing about the mob in conjunction with Atlantic City and ultimately there were prosecutions and a mobster became a government witness. [The witness] was looking for someone to write a book about him. So the agent came to me and said ‘I’ve got this wiseguy and I’ve got a publisher who wants to publish his book. Would you be interested in writing it?’ A lot of this comes from just doing it and doing it and doing it. I mean the payoff is now, but I’ve been working at this for quite a while.”

Schiller still shops all of his projects from house to house. “I have to go out and sell my own projects,” he says. “Publishers don’t come to me and say, ‘Would you like to write a book on this?’ I have to go and sell the idea to the publisher because I do too many things. But that may be because I’m difficult to deal with, too.”

Strauss plans to do more instant entertainment books, but adds: “I couldn’t do more than four a year.” Even though the books only take her a month or so to write, “they’re exhausting, and you have to put the rest of your life on hold,” Anastasia agrees. “The writing itself has never been a struggle. It’s the time and being able to squeeze it in around everything else that I’m doing. But if I could do this full time and make a living, yeah, I’d be doing it.”

Paris Exhibit Brings Britain To The French

In a city that prides itself on decorum, it’s not every day that artists huddle around a television cheering a soccer match while guests at the opening of their exhibit in a fancy gallery sip champagne and politely ponder their work.

The Chapmans get bizarre!

The Chapmans get bizarre!

But “Sex and the British,” running through July 15 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in the Marais, is not your average Paris exhibit. It’s the type of show that can touch a raw nerve in even the most unflappable Gaul.

“It’s the first time this type of work has been shown in Paris,” claims Max Wigram, co-curator of the show with Norman Rosenthal, the director of London’s Royal Academy of Art.

Certainly, the British artists in the show — including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Angus Fairhust, Sarah Lucas, Gilbert & George and Tracey Emin — are not news in London or New York.

In the British capital, their controversial work is a headline-generating machine. Last year in New York, they packed a punch when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani threatened to cut off city funding to the Brooklyn Museum of Art if it went ahead with “Sensation,” the first group show featuring young British artists in the U.S. But only now are England’s contemporary artists beginning to making a mark in France.

“I think it’s because this work is fundamentally opposed to the atmosphere ruling over French art now,” explains Wigram. “The French approach art intellectually, while this exhibit is more visceral — even guttural.”

The show’s title is enough to raise an eyebrow here.

“`Sex and the British,’ isn’t that an oxymoron?” purred one Parisienne at the opening. “What do the British know about sex?”

That the British dare assert any mastery of the subject amounts to a gentle slap in the face of the French, who love to boast their superiority in the art of love.

“I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that there’s more sex in Britain now than in most countries,” says Wigram. “What’s interesting about the show is how different artists use sexuality in their work.”

Much of the sexual component in the show borders on the pornographic: There are explicit videos, photos and sculptures using sexual devices.

“Erotic, even pornographic, work is amongst the most interesting at the moment,” says Ropac, who runs the gallery hosting the show. “Artists have always retreated into the dark corners of existence. And what the English are doing now is cutting edge and explicit. On the other hand, the French are more brainy and bloodless.”

Offering proof of that premise, Wigram compares the show to “Voila,” the larger city-funded exhibit at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. “`Voila’ is indicative of what’s going on here now,” he says.

Focused on the passing of the 20th century, the show, which runs through Oct. 29, is a humanistic meditation on the individual in the face of history. The artists involved are classic.

“Although it grew out of a set idea, we wanted to represent individual artists and their own vision,” says Suzanne Page, museum director and co-curator of “Voila.”

A common thread running through the show’s more than 60 artists, ranging from Andy Warhol to Gerhard Richter and Douglas Gordon, is the cataloging of human existence. For example, Hans-Peter Feldmann mounts 100 photos of different people aged one to 100, and Gilbert & George show a video of the two rummaging through archives of their lives’ work.

Interestingly, the duo is also featured in “Sex.” But while they pore over their past dressed in suit and tie for “Voila,” in the Ropac exhibit they don their birthday suits in a series of photo montages.

“[The French approach] is so much more detached than what we show,” says Wigram. “The British approach gets under the skin of life, while the French remains detached from it.”

Whereas “Voila” could be called brooding, “Sex” immediately elicits a strong reaction — be it revulsion or fascination. For instance, the Chapman brothers offer a replica of a severed head whose nose is sculpted in the form of a phallus. In an accompanying video, the head is used in the sexual practice of two women.

“France is still sleepy, but it’s on the verge of changing,” says Wigram. “I think it’s difficult to create or show such controversial work here because the quality of life is so good.”

Coming from a Brit, those are fighting words.

“You have to be careful about what the British say of the French,” cautions Page in reference to the countries’ longstanding rivalry. “I don’t really consider myself typically French, but neither do I think the French approach art too intellectually. My approach is to consider art as art, and to privilege emotions and sensations.”

Still, Page acknowledges that “Voila” isn’t on the same page as “Sex and the British.”

“When you look back at this century,” she says, “which started with such high hopes for humanity, and you see how inhuman the century was, it’s hard to take a purely fun approach. The idea of the exhibit is to find something human. The pretext was heavy, but I think the result is light. It’s a more ambiguous way of treating art — we wanted to leave viewers the opportunity to formulate their own interpretations. This exhibit is not about kitsch.”

Then, almost instinctively, she backtracks.

“I don’t mean that kitsch isn’t interesting. We’re just addressing a different subject.”

Should You Be Worried About A Mole On Your Palm?

goodlookA palm is covered by skin and that makes it an ideal location for a mole to grow. If the mole is not painful and does not bleed when you do your chores, then there is no reason for concern. Hands are the dirtiest part of the body as they touch contaminated surfaces. You should make sure that you wash your hands with soap as often as possible. Hand sanitizers are available in pocket sizes; make sure to carry some with you and sanitize your hands often to prevent infection to the mole. If you are courageous enough, you can get rid of the mole at home. There are suitable creams in the market to remove moles; you will find dermatend reviews online to help you make an informed decision.

A mole on the palm can get irritated when doing your daily chores. It can get burnt when cooking and irritated by the lotions applied on the body. If it becomes bothersome, ask your dermatologist for advice. If the mole is large and raised on the palm, you may require more time to remove it completely with a cream; as discovered by people who give proper Dermatend reviews. It is important to follow instructions provided on a product for it to work effectively.

Why You Need To Check Dermatend Reviews

A Dermatend review is a crucial resource for you when you are faced with the problems of moles and skin tags. These are skin conditions, which will normally send one for a surgical removal. This is a product which when used correctly can break down the cells that make up the skin of moles and warts to bring about healing from the condition. When you are able to understand the manner in which the product works, you will appreciate its importance and chances of solving the problem for you.

Choosing products, which contain agreeable chemicals, is also a reason for looking up reviews from the right sources. People usually have sensitive skins, which are likely to react with some compounds. When looking for the solution for those moles and warts, you need to make a choice based on your relative safety. From these reviews, you will be able to know whether or not the ingredients contained in the cream are right for use with your skin or not. The good news is that the product is made of primarily natural compounds, which go down well with the skin.

You also need to know the benefits or demerits to expect when you choose to use Dermatend as a solution to the moles your skin suffers from.

Some Great Summer Workout Exercises

Via: Spectrum Clubs