Video – Cities at Night courtesy of NASA

From NASA and the International Space Station comes a 10 minute video looking down on those of us more Earth-bound. One of photography’s super powers is the ability to alter our perspective by taking us places we wouldn’t be able to go on our own or sharing an otherwise seldom seen view. The more I see of the world the more humble it makes me. One of my favourite quotes comes from Astronaut Neil Armstrong speaking about what he saw from the moon; “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

There is certainly some interesting tech at work here specifically having to rig, from spare parts, a barn door tracker to compensate for the orbital rotation which had previously limited the quality of photographs requiring longer exposures. I talk a lot about the magic of photography, but really, there is something magical about shooting the lights of our cities from the darkness of space and being able to see in detail the shape of cities and the roads that lead outward into an earthly darkness. It strikes me that these lights on Earth appear almost like far off Galaxies deep in space. Yet they also appear familiar shaped by familiar geography, streets and highways. Looking down on London and Cairo remind me of walking along the banks of the Thames and Nile rivers, it reminds of looking up at a sky filled with light pollution obscuring the stars above and feeling like these cities were stretched infinitely outward from where I was standing. From the space station, however, these cities finite maybe even accessible. What a difference a change in perspective makes.


I was remiss in not posting the link to the original article:

Cities At Night

Video – National Geographic, Steve McCurry and the Last Roll of Kodachrome

What a fantastic find this morning on Twitter; Photojournalist Steve McCurry shooting the last roll of Kodachrome featuring faces in New York, Istanbul and India. While I will let the video, and McCurry himself, tell the story of this project I will say this is a fitting send off to a film that set the standard for decades and decades. I am ashamed to say that I have never shot a roll of Kodachrome, and I never will. By the time I was getting into photography I was largely using whatever film I could afford. I do feel that I have missed out on something special and as McCurry describes having nearly one million Kodachrome slides in his archive and their durability I wonder about the legacy and staying power of our digital archives. Somehow jpg files on a hard drive or burned to a DVD lack a certain magic. Somewhere in one of my closest is a slide case with a few hundred Kodachrome slides shot by my father on a camera identical to the camera I learned to shoot on. At some point I will have to get organized to digitize these slides before I loose the option and loose that part of my childhood.

Kodachrome isn’t just an element of our popular culture, but it was a mechanism used to record what would become our history, and indeed it did. Author Neil Sheenan suggests that “Photographs are the images of history rescued from the oblivion of mortality” and I agree. I believe that our understanding of the last one hundred years will be shaped by largely what we see in photographs the way the previous one hundred years is largely understood by what was read and perhaps the next one hundred years will in turn be understood through what we watch. Perhaps this National Geographic video is a perfect segue between these mediums.

Have a watch.

Another link I feel is worth a mention came to me from the American Photo Magazine Tumblr Blog featuring their picks for the best photo books of 2012

American Photo has also included a list of E Books with Getty Image’s Year In Focus at the top of the list. This is Getty’s 2012 showcase of highlights in photojournalism, from the Arab Spring to royal weddings and sports events and is available FREE! at iTunes. Definitely worth a look.



Video: Steve McCurry & The 2013 Pirelli Calendar

So very cool to come across this video today about celebrated photojournalist Steve McCurry shooting the 2013 Pirelli Calendar in Rio at Nikon Rumors. The Pirelli calendar is pure school boy fantasy and is about as far from the work McCurry is known for as imaginable and yet it seems long overdue. McCurry is a master portraitist and looks to be taking the famously risque calendar in a decidedly new direction while celebrating the women he’s photographing. I will let McCurry explain in the video.

Never commercially available, The Pirelli calendar may be the most coveted “girly” calendar in the world, distributed only to Pirelli clients and dealers with few, if any, made publicly available. Over the years, however, there have been several books and more than a few magazine articles fueling the notoriety. What sets this Pirelli model apart from drug store bikini calendars is high production values featuring iconic locations, creative art direction, and truly great photography. Some of the better known photographers who’ve shot the calendar over the years include Annie Liebovitz, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Bruce Webber, Terry Richardson and, most recently, Steve McCurry.

I could go on and on; just watch the video (It’s safe for work!) When you are done with the first video, have a look at the promo piece.