Monday, December 12, 2011

In Full Spectrum. Photography 1900-1950 from the Collection of the Moravian Gallery in Brno. 4th part: Social Photography and Reportage

Social Photography
Social photography also expanded the social impact of photography. Under the auspices of the Left Front (an anti-Nazi organization, 1929-1933), it evolved out of compassionate representations of poverty into a movement promoting change in the social order. It was intended, first and foremost, for the press and, paired with written text, it required legibility in the sense of clarity and rationality. It employed the whole repertoire of new photography, especially in approach to detail and in diagonal compositions.
Social photography was a natural  response to the Great Depression (1929-1933), and thus an international phenomenon. While in countries like Germany it was largely produced by the working class, social photography in Czechoslovakia involved a large number of intellectuals: writers, architects, politicians and artists. Prime movers and interpreters of social photography included Lubomir Linhart in Prague and František Kalivoda in Brno. Characteristically, the work of famous photographers, although not socially engaged, often features small series devoted to social matters.

Grete Popper 1934

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Full Spectrum. Photography 1900-1950 from the Collection of the Moravian Gallery in Brno. 3rd part: Advertising.

Advertising photography
New photography and advertising photography were born simultaneously, and can be hardly viewed separately. Precise description, the core of the New Objectivity, was also pivotal to promotional work. Examples of advertising photography invariably show objects as part of abstract patterns, in order to deprive them of any presumed position within the coordinates of the ordinary world, so bird's-eye views became common. Photo-montage (Vaclav Jiru and others) was also frequent. The colour effects in Taborsky's photographs are achieved by photographic chemistry. In Rossler's shots, the objects represented appear to be in a state of weightlessness, floating in an undefined space, while in other photos series of products create geometrical structures and symbolize both mass use as well as profusion and abundance (Adolf Schneeberger, Vladislav Scholz). Some artists favoured a combination of disparate space dimensions and plans, details and wholes (Otakar Lenhart, Hugo Taborsky), while others employed, perhaps inadvertently, the principles of Gestalt psychology, a discipline that was finding form at the time.

Bohumil Stastny

Monday, December 5, 2011

In Full Spectrum. Photography 1900-1950 from the Collection of the Moravian Gallery in Brno. 2nd part.

The Avant-garde — Abstraction and the New Objectivity
The “New Photography" took shape slowly throughout the 1920's. At first, Constructivism and the New Objectivity prevailed, with Surrealism, their irrational opposite, following later. At the end of the decade, individual styles blended into a single whole at the Film and Foto exhibition in Stuttgart (1929). It became clear that common to all the individual paths was “non-art", a trend associated with respect for pure (non-manipulated) photography portraying reality sharply and in detail. Through this, New Photography definitely separated itself from the approach before it, which had been typified by misty hazes and spectacles in light.

Detail, only a few years ago deemed incompatible with a work of art, had returned to centre stage.
The New Czech Photography exhibition, based on the Stuttgart model and organized by Alexander Hackenschmied, was held in the Aventinska mansarda, Prague in 1930. It was also the premiere of the Aventinum Trio: Ladislav E. Berka, Alexander Hackenschmied and Jiii Lehovec. its photographers freely employed both abstraction and precise description. Innovations in the New Photography included photographs of structures and textures separated from their context in space, providing interesting uncertainties of orientation (Alfred Ehrhardt, Crete Popper, Eugen Wiskovsky).

The role of photography in society changed as well. The new tendencies evolved against a background of ever-increasing demand on the part of a burgeoning illustrated magazine market, providing new outlets for the medium. The philosophy of the New Photography paralleled this trend both in style and in its preference for brilliantly rendered photographs suitable for printing. Innovations in book printing and gravure reproduction blended with the new, revolutionary cameras (Leica, Rolleiflex, Contax, and others) that enabled the photographer to “be there".

The work of Jaromlr Funke is an example of a concept-based and radical approach combined with a perfect orientation in the world of photography as well as that of art. A large number of his still lifes, in which shadows came to assume ever greater importance, evolved during the 1920's, from Cubist inspirations through compositions made up of geometrical shapes to the non-figurative shadow-plays produced in 1928-1929.
Eugen Wlikovsky applied the psychology of shapes to compositional principles as well as in his own free work (Disaster, 1939; Willow In a Valley, 1915).
Frantisek Vobecky 1935

Jaromir Funke

Jiri Jenicek 1931

The Avant-garde and Surrealism
Surrealism was, for most photographers, an inspiration for unorthodox, imaginative work. The principal contributions to fundamental ideas in this field are contained in photographs by Jaromir Funke, Jindřich Štyrsky and Vaclav Zykmund. Funke returned to the more objective world in 1929 with Reflections, a series of photographs of shop windows, and several poetic "assemblages", sets of objects photographed from above. His “Time Endures" cycle (1930-1934) discloses the irrationality inherent in ordinary things. Together with the painter Jindřich Štyrsky he expanded the scope of art photography through static, impersonal shots of the structures typical of civilisation, the meaning behind which was to restrict the artist's part in their representation to selection alone. Vaclav Zykmund's stagings echo surrealist plays.

Experimenting at the technical and technological levels of the medium characterized the fotolinie group (Ceské Budéjovice 1931-1937) and photo-group of five (also f5, Brno 1933—1936). Fotolinie was headed by Josef Bartuska, while other members represented at the exhibition include Ada Novék and Karel Valter. The first exhibition of the f5 group, held in the Museum of Applied Arts, Brno in October 1934, was opened by poet Vitézslav Illezval. Its Olomouc and Prague forms are represented by Frantisek Povolny, Bohumil Némec, Jaroslav Nohel, Hugo Taborsky, Karel Kaspařik and Otakar Lenhart.
Miroslav Hak, the only photographer in the Avant-garde Group 42, which united writers and artists during the Second World War, bridged the world of the mundane and imagination.
Bohumil Nemec
Frantisek Povolny
Jaromir Funke 1932
Jaroslav Nohel

Sunday, December 4, 2011

an exhibition: In Full Spectrum. Photography 1900-1950 from the Collection of the Moravian Gallery in Brno. 1st part.

Art nouveau, Art deco, beginnings of the Avant-garde.
Well before the end of the 19th century, art photography ceased to be a matter for individual endeavor. Amateur photographers began to organize themselves into clubs, working towards qualities comparable with painting and graphic art. Portrait photographers devoted themselves to the surpassing of the routine production of professional studios. The medium became divided into “art” and “non-art” categories. The amateur photographers were soon joined by some of the professionals themselves; Franz Grainer was among the firsts. 
In landscape photography it was felt necessary that description, mere “copying of reality", be avoided. Morning and night shots intended to evince mood or emotion came to the fore, at the expense of exact description (Vladimir J. Bufka). Representation of the ordinary in non-ordinary fashion also became popular.
A subject demanded attention by means of the originality or subtlety with which it was represented. The craft and science of photography also sought to leave the previous era far behind. Gelatin-silver emulsions were progressively replaced by painstaking noble manipulative processes such as gum print, oil print and bromoil print (platinum print and carbon print had already been invented). That photographic positives had turned into graphic prints, thoroughly demanding in nature and highly reliant on the feel, experience and manual skills of the artist, became an integral part of arguments for the acknowledgment of photography as art, at a time when purely mechanical “imprints of reality" had no chance to be viewed as art.

The work of Jaroslav Rossler, a pioneer of European avant-garde photography, bears witness to the intertwining of various styles and technical approaches in the period before the situation in photography crystallized. Rossler initially employed oil print and bromoil print to produce photographs in the vein of art deco (Miss Gerta) and cubo-futurism (Ore Tarraco), but soon for purely photogenic works as well (Brother).
Alois Zych c.1912
Frantisek Drtikol 1925

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NX200 Feel & Share, Photo competition and exhibition in facebook.

I want to invite you to an event from which I am part. It is a virtual exhibition for the Samsung NX200 new camera.
Visit the virtual featured photo gallery or explore the entire NX200 Feel & Share Photo
Exhibition. Share and vote for your favorite photographs and mine of course ;)
Follow the link like the page, don't worry they wont spam you, I give my word,  accept the application and enjoy it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

a review: Samsung NX200

Recently I have got the new camera from Samsung, the Samsung NX 200 and this my personal review/opinion about this camera.

So let's start:
Presentation. The camera comes in a nice elegant black box:
Samsung NX200 already set up with 18-55mm and external flash. Charger, battery, USB cable not shown.
Important technical spec, at least for me:
20.3 megapixels (5472x3648 aspect ratio of 3:2).
RAW files although they are like 40mb each :(
ISO up to 12 800, adjustable in 1/3 and 1 steps.
7 frames per second
Spot metering, beside multi and  center weighted.
Manual control in speed and aperture, beside shutter, aperture priority and program.
Color space Adobe1998 and sRGB.
Custom and manual white balance.
Manual focus.
1st and 2nd curtain flash synchronization.

What I like is first resolution and all those "pro" options in a compact size. Is not a point and shoot, although you can use as such if you choose to use just the automatic options but if you want professional capabilities and have real control over the image you want to capture this camera is for you.

What lacks unfortunately is an optical viewfinder, I would have like one, however the display screen at the back is really sharp and bright

All controls are with buttons and a dial which I prefer much more to a touch screen. They are easy to manipulate and go trough the menu options.
The design is as well ergonomic, the small grip make it easy to handle it.
NX200 top view.
NX200 back view.
Now let's go to the images:
Nx200 studio sample original size 5 472 x 3 638 px.
Speed: 1/125       Aperture: 7.1 f       ISO: 125
Color profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Originally taken as JPG Super fine.
Crop at 100% Lips from right girl.
Crop at 100 % Lips from left girls.
Crop at 100% Eye of right girl.
Crop at 100% Left cheek from left girl.
Under studio conditions it performs well, but as you can see there are some imperfecctions in the shadows transitions which can be easily corrected in post-production.
Sharp and images and nice tonalities in the high light areas.

Nx200 snap shot sample original size 5 472 x 3 638 px.
Speed: 1/60       Aperture: 4.5 f       ISO: 1000
Color profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Originally taken as JPG Super fine. and with the flash that comes with the camera.
Crop at 100%
Crop at 100%
No bad at ISO 1000 but it depends a lot of the light quality, however we can see some noise in the dark areas.

Nx200 snap shot sample original size 5 472 x 3 638 px.
Speed: 1/30       Aperture: 4.5 f       ISO: 6 400
Color profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Originally taken as JPG Super fine. Artificial Ambient light, tungsten ceiling lamp.
Crop at 100%

Crop at 100%
Well at ISO 6 400 we can see noise. The skin is not smooth anymore and if you plan to print your photos, you need to work on them in Photoshop, unless they will be just in your pc and be shown just at low resolution (ipads, ipods,  internet social sites, etc.  so is more than enough)

Nx200 snap shot sample original size 1080 × 1920 px.
Speed: 1/50       Aperture: 4.5 f       ISO: 6 400
Color profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Originally taken as JPG Super fine. Natural ambient light from a window left side.
Crop at 100%

Crop at 100%
With natural light and taken at a smaller resolution the image is sharper and have better transition from light to shadows. There is noise but it does not bother me, make it black and white apply some film effect and woala! enough for a 20 x 30 cm print (8 x11.5 inches)
So as conclusion the better the quality of light, the better the final image will be.

One important point is: Not because you can shoot at 20 megapixels means you must shoot all at that size, for what do you need your party photos so big if  in 99% of the cases they won't pass from being posted from facebook at 700 pixel size?

Nx200 snap shot sample original size 5 472 × 3 648 px.
Speed: 1/100       Aperture: 5 f       ISO: 250
Color profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Originally taken as JPG Super fine. Natural ambient light.
Crop at 100% Shadow area
Crop at 100% light area.
Well, the pictures speak for themselves about quality. With natural soft light the high lights areas  and the shadows are fine, however I have not tested in high contrast situations.

Beside all that, the main benefits, at least for me is portability, I always want to have a camera with all the professional controls and be easy to carry around. I have tried before with my Canon 20D but it is heavy and bulky if you put it a 70-200 mm or a 16-35mm. So this is my holy grial.
I am not too much into the special effects it has (sepia, old style tone, magic frames, etc) because if I want them I prefer do it in Photoshop. I mostly use JPG and super fine quality, sunlight as white balance and the vivid setting for the color tonality.

I like the fact that the lenses are interchangeable which give you more options about lenses and it it has  the same size of sensor most of the consumer cameras has an APS-C sensor (example: Canon 7d, Nikon d300)

About the video, I cannot say anything, all is that it can shoot videos at 1080p at 30 frames per second. I leave this area for someone who knows about video than me.

Two things I would like it has is for studio photos that you can see a live image despite the speed and aperture settings. Let me explain it, if you set 1/125 of speed and an aperture of 16f under studio light conditions  when you will look trough the lcd screen you will see only black, despite the final shoot will be properly exposed due to it is lighted by the studio strobes. It can be in the top dial or in the menu options. And the other is an optical viewfinder accessory for street photography with their 16 or 20mm lens.

Well that is all from my point of view, i hope you find it useful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

a poem - Lenka

Lucid dreams every day,
Endless visions under your arms
Nothing will silence our drunken dance
Killing everything with your blue gaze
Angels will make us pagan Gods of the human kind.
                                                   Carlos Lopez. October 2011

Note: Dedicated to  my friends called Lenka.

Monday, October 24, 2011

a Brno girl 18 - Alena

Simplicity is the key for my photos, one source of light, one reflector and good chemistry (relationship) between the model and me. She is Alena, a beautiful student of tourism. Enjoy them.