Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2013

A99 v1.02 firmware update reduces flash delay

Three days ago, Sony released firmware v1.02 update for the A99. The update officially adds support for the SAL50F14Z lens, and improves some aspect of video that I don't personally care about. What I do care about, a lot, is that the update also reduces a problem with the A99's built-in, optically-triggered wireless flash.

Built-in, optically-triggered wireless flash works by triggering remote, off-camera flashes with an pre-flash from the flash on the camera itself. Another way to do the same thing is to use radio triggers. But radio triggers are expensive and you have to go to the trouble of attaching them to your flash units. The optical system is attractive because it's basically free — it's built into the camera and the flash units — and it generally works pretty well.

Except that it didn't work so well on the Sony A99 when it was first released late last year. You'd press the shutter, the flash on your camera would fire the triggering burst, and a beat l…

Books: Photojournalists on War, by Michael Kamber

I just received my copy of Michael Kamber's recently-released book, Photojournalists on War: The Untold Stories from Iraq (released May 2013). The book is wonderfully printed, which is of course important for a book of photographs. But I find it hard to know how to describe the book less superficially—that is, to describe the content. The story is painful but you'll find the images hard to get out of your head. The images in the book bust open a hornet's nest of emotions: amazement and horror, admiration and sorrow, gratitude and pain.

The book mainly showcases photographs taken in Iraq by about forty different photographers. Every single photo stops you in your tracks, makes you linger and look. But the book isn't just photos. Michael Kamber interviewed all the photographers, and each chapter includes both photos and interviews. The interviews are not padding, they're as important as the photos. You can only photograph what you can see, but you can talk about anyt…

A Tale of Two Kisses: Eisenstadt in New York, Doisneau in Paris

They are two of the greatest photos of all time; certainly two of the most famous: Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of the sailor kissing the "nurse" in Times Square on VJ Day (1945), and Robert Doisneau's photo of the couple kissing near City Hall in Paris. My assignment: compare and contrast. Between them, they say a lot of what there is to be said about photography.

Taking: Eisenstaedt in Times Square Eisenstadt's photo was taken almost seventy years ago this month, in August 1945. The identity of the sailor and the nurse were a mystery for a long time, but fairly recent research has solved the mystery. This short article at the New York Post site summarizes the high points.

There are several ironies. The couple were indeed strangers, as the photo suggests and as everybody always assumed. What's not been known (certainly not to me) is that the sailor was on a first date with the girl he eventually married, and his future wife is in the photo, about 10 feet behind…

BlogTouch: The best iPad and iPhone editor for Blogger

Just a quick shout-out for an app I discovered recently: BlogTouch. It's an iPad app that lets you create, edit and manage posts for your blog with Google Blogger.

Google offers a free iOS app called simply "Blogger." It's pretty clearly the work of their junior varsity programmers. There is almost no text formatting allowed and you can't even add a simple web link. In short, it's okay if you need to correct an embarrassing spelling mistake on your blog but otherwise, it's useless.

BlogTouch isn't so limited. In fact, it's hard to see how it's limited at all. It provides nearly all of the functionality that I have working in the generally very good Blogger online user interface on my computer, including:
a true rich-text editor that lets me do things like change paragraph alignment, indent, create a list, and more;ability to add a hyperlink easily;ability to insert an image (or movie) in a post either from a URL or from your device and format i…

Fotomoto's back — and Bay Photo's now in charge

Wow, I stepped out for coffee and while I was gone, I seem to have missed some corporate drama. Lucky me.

What's a "Fotomoto"?If you are a photographer using SmugMug, Zenfolio, Photoshelter, Fotomerchant, or similar full-service sites, you might never have heard of Fotomoto because you never needed it. SmugMug, Zenfolio, Photoshelter, et al., partner directly with printing companies. SmugMug uses Bay Photo; Zenfolio uses Mpix; Photoshelter uses several services, one of which (BWC Imaging) is right here in Dallas.
Fotomoto is something very different. It is a print order management service that makes photo-ordering possible on websites that that don't have their own proprietary print-fulfillment arrangements. Photographers can pick the websites that they like best for their design and other qualities, and get print ordering as an add-on from Fotomoto.

What's different about Fotomoto is that it doesn't host photos, exactly. And it doesn't make prints. It'…

Recommended: Kenneth Tanaka, "Lest we forget"

Excellent short post at Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer by occasional guest blogger Kenneth Tanaka: "Lest we forget." A death in the family reminded him — as it reminds us all — of the real, fundamental reason that we take photographs.
... I suggest that today would be a good time to take pictures of the important souls in your world if you don't routinely do so. PRINT the pictures, the good and the "bad," and put them in a safe place. I can almost guarantee that one day they will become the most valuable pictures in your collection. Read the whole thing.

To show that I try to practice what Tanaka is preaching, and lest I myself forget, here's a snap of my mother-in-law, whom we all called "Grandmother", and my wife, Joan. This was taken at a concert at the Dallas Arboretum in the summer of 2010, a little more than a year before her death. She was ninety-five at the time of the photo; she was ninety-seven when she died. Had she lived s…

Why I switched from Lightroom to Aperture

Read today an excellent article, "Why I use Aperture instead of Lightroom," by Mel Ashar; it's posted at the Aperture Expert blog edited by Joseph Linaschke. Ashar, a landscape and architectural photographer, provides a useful catalog of some of the reasons Aperture is a strong choice for photographers who use Macs. He focuses on the file-management advantages of Aperture that arise from the fact that Apple controls an entire file ecosystem, comprised not just of Aperture, but of iCloud and the file systems on both Macs and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad).

Now, notwithstanding the advantages Ashar enumerates, the consensus seems to be that, Aperture as a photo processing app lags way behind Lightroom. I disagree with the consensus. In fact, shortly after the public beta of Lightroom 5 became available, I started looking again at Aperture and this time I really gave it the old college try. To my surprise, I discovered that I liked it. I liked it a lot. So, instead of upgrading…

Weddings of the Very, Very Rich and Famous: Sean Parker Edition

It's hard to know how to describe the ~$5 million wedding of Sean Parker and Alexandra Lenas. "Lavish" is clearly inadequate. I can think of other words but then I have to remind myself that this is a form of wealth redistribution that I approve of!

Photography provided by Big Apple big name Christian Oth and outstanding portraitist Mark Seliger. (Seliger's a Texas native.) I hope they made a fortune and can retire now.

Some photos here.

One question: Sting couldn't find a clean pair of jeans to wear?

Why I sign my photos, and why I watermark

Watermark vs signature First, a little clarification. A watermark is not a signature. Here is an example of a photo of mine that displays both. My signature ("WILLIAM PORTER PHOTOGRAPHY") is clearly visible along the lower right side of the photo. The watermark is also in plain sight. Can you see it?

The signature says something A signature is always at least partially a form of branding. But on my photos the signature is mainly a statement. It says, I took this photo and I'm proud of it.

I don't put my signature on every photo. I use it mainly on images that I am, in fact, proud of, and even then, mainly on images that may be seen at larger sizes: images that might appear on my portfolio (the "best of" on my web site) and images that are printed at, say, 8" x 10" or larger. I admit I haven't had a firm, consistent policy about that in the past, but that's where I've been going for a while. The signature on a small print (or a small i…