For this critique the community we are asking to see your most profitable photographs. Please only submit images that have made at least $2000, but the more you’ve made, the better.
While a quick trip to do some shooting in the city might involve little more than throwing a body or two in a duffel bag and heading out — an odd overlap with your average serial killer’s check list — heading off somewhere exotic can require a bit more planning. What else should you throw in the bag?
Mockumentary style is hard to nail. How did the cinematography on The Office always pop?
One of the coolest things about The Office is how they transport you into a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania via mockumentary style. The shows writing and stars get most of the glamour, but as I rewatch this epic series, I am in awe of the cinematography.
All of the camera work on the show benefits the story in subtle and unusual ways.
Today I want to go over some tips and tricks they use to deepen the audience’s connection with the story and look at how you can use these techniques in your work.
Check out this video on the cinematography of The Office from Jessie Tribble and let’s talk after!
Tips and Tricks from ‘The Office’ Cinematography
The cinematography in a mockumentary is unlike any other camerawork out there. Since the characters in the fictional show are aware there are cameras, the DP has almost a meta-presence on the set. The camera is not only a lens for the audience but the person behind it.
A British Columbia-based wedding photographer is out $4,600 after falling prey to something called the “overpayment” scam—an insidious scam that often targets wedding and event photographers, and has allegedly cost its victims nearly $5 million this year alone.
We’ve warned readers about these kinds of scams before. Also called advanced-fee scams, the swindle involves offering a photographer a paying gig that isn’t real. Unfortunately, photographer Esther Moerman hadn’t heard of this trick, and her business has taken a big hit as a result. In a report on Global News, Moerman describes how she was tricked out of $5,500.
A man calling himself “Manny” reached out to Moerman via text, asking to hire her for his daughter’s wedding in Vancouver. After ironing out some details, Moerman sent over a contract and requested a $700 deposit—so far, so good. But when the payment arrived, it was a check for $5,500.
The advanced-fee/overpayment scam hinges on what happens next. The scammer will tell you it’s an “accounting error” and ask you to forward the money to a third party. In Moerman’s case, she was told the payment was for the caterer. So she deposited the check, and since it showed up “in the green” in her TD Bank account, she went ahead and sent the money as requested.
A couple of days later, the check bounced and Moerman was left holding the bill for the full $5,500.
In the end, Moerman was able to recover $900 as a “goodwill gesture” from her bank—the amount never sent back to the scammer—but she’s still out $4,600 with absolutely no recourse. You can hear the whole story from Moerman herself on Global News.
As we’ve reported before, you should always be wary when a potential client asks you to forward money to a third party. In fact, police recommend leaving a check “untouched” for seven business days after it has been deposited, whether or not the bank sees fit to release the funds any earlier. Unfortunately for Moerman, she had to learn this lesson the hard way.
I’m Martin from the All About Street Photography channel, and today I want to talk about the photo “Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston” by photographer Neil Leifer. I am going to take a closer at the story behind the photograph and why is this picture so iconic.
The photo we are looking at is an iconic sports photograph taken in 1965 by photographer Neil Leifer with his Rolleiflex camera. It is a photo of the greatest heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali.
Neil Leifer is an American sports photographer and filmmaker. He shot covers for magazines such as People, TIME, and Sports Illustrated, which published Leifer on 170 of its covers. Leifer followed Ali from the beginning of his career to the end, and he is now considered to be one of the greatest sports photographers of all time.
But Leifer was not only a sports photographer. He even said, “I like to think of myself as a photojournalist, not a sports photographer.”
It was on the 25th of February in 1964 in Miami when Cassius Clay beat the heavyweight champion, Sonny Liston. The match was heavily anticipated and Clay engaged in a psychological war against Liston, calling him “the big ugly bear.” Clay went on to beat Liston in seven rounds after Liston threw in the towel, as he had injured his shoulder and could not continue the fight.
The day after the fight, he announced he had converted to Islam and was a member of the Nation of Islam. He picked (was given) the name Muhammad Ali. The media, however, ignored the fact and advertised the bout as the “Clay-Liston” fight.
The second match took place on May 25, 1965. By the time the match started at 10:40 pm, the ring was already filled with thick blue clouds of smoke, which was not actually blue, but the strobe lights made it look blue when fired through the smoke. After one minute and 44 seconds, what many called a Phantom Punch, Liston’s body hit the ground. It was a knockout. Neil Leifer was positioned on the right side of the ring at the perfect angle.
Even though the photo is almost 55 years old, it almost looks like a studio shot. It was mainly thanks to the powerful lights that the studio effect was achieved but also thanks to cigar smoke in the ring.
In the area of composition, the shot is pretty much perfect. Even nowadays it would be very hard to replicate it since you cannot position your subjects in sports photography to your liking during an event like this. This photograph is a great example of being at the right spot at the right moment. As you can see, those guys just weren’t so lucky.
“I was obviously in the right seat, but what matters is I didn’t miss,” Leifer later said. “That’s what separates best sports photographers from the ones that are just good — you have to get lucky in sports photography.”
Even though it probably wasn’t intentional, it is a nice moment catching Ali’s hand in this 90-degree angle. Unlike S curves, those sharp 90 degree angles are often used to symbolize strength. It is used not only in photography but also, for example, when posing during bodybuilder competition. This image enhances Ali’s strength and makes him look like a hero.
It’s quite amazing. Only after you see the real-time footage from the match are able to appreciate the moment and the pose Leifer got in this frame.
Leifer also had a special flash over the ring, but since his strobes needed a longer time to recharge, Leifer had this one opportunity to make the picture.
What may be surprising is that the picture was not considered that special at that time — it didn’t make the cover of the Sports Illustrated and was only on the 4th page. When they entered it in the biggest photo contest of the year held by Encyclopedia Brittanica, the University of Missouri Pictures of the Year, the picture didn’t make to the podium and wasn’t even given an honorable mention.
Leifer says it was probably 10 years before people began thinking it was special.
“The picture became special because Ali became so special,” the photographer says.
But at the end of the century, London Observer devoted an entire issue to the 50 greatest sports pictures of all time. Ali — Liston placed second and Ali – Williams, another brilliant photograph ended up winning the contest.
So what do you think? Is “Ali vs. Liston” the greatest sports photo of the century?
About the author: Martin Kaninsky is a photographer, reviewer, and YouTuber based in Prague, Czech Republic. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Kaninsky runs the channel All About Street Photography. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube channel.
SanDisk officially launched their line of Extreme PRO CFexpress type B cards. They come in four different sizes – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, reaching speeds up to 1700 MB/s (read) and 1200 MB/s (write). The cards are now available for preorder with an expected ship date sometime later this year. Alongside these new cards SanDisk launched fast CFexpress Card Reader.
It looks like CFexpress will be the standard of future memory cards for internal high resolution RAW video recording, because the theoretical maximum speeds are ridiculously high. Back in April 2018, ProGrade showcased what is possible with CFexpress technology – they demonstrated their 1TB 1400MB/s CFexpress type B card.
In February 2019, CompactFlash association released specifications for the CFexpress 2.0 standard (full press release available here). Memory cards with this new standard will come in three sizes – type A (20 x 28 x 2.8mm), type B (38.5 x 29.8 x 3.8mm), and type C (54 x 74 x 4.8mm). The maximum theoretical performance for CFepxress cards is 4000MB/s for the largest type C, 2000MB/s for the middle type B, and 1000MB/s for the smallest type A cards.
The new SanDisk memory cards are CFexpress 2.0 type B, which have identical form factor as XQD cards. Sometimes these cards are being referred to as “the next version of XQD”. It seems that CFexpress cards can be supported through firmware update with XQD compatible cameras. Nikon, for example, announced that future support for CFexpress is coming via a firmware update to their Z 6 and Z 7 mirrorless cameras. Other popular cameras with XQD slot are Panasonic S1, S1R, and Sony FS7. We don’t have any information yet whether Panasonic and Sony are also planning to bring CFexpress support for these cameras.
SanDisk Extreme PRO CFexpress Cards
The new SanDisk Extreme PRO CFexpress type B memory cards come in four different capacities – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. When it comes to speeds, SanDisk has rated the 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models at 1700 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write, while the 64GB model hits 1500 MB/s read and 800 MB/s write.
These speeds should be enough for RAW 4K video recording. I am very curious if we will see internal RAW video recording in the Nikon Z6 and Z7, for example.
SanDisk CFexpress Card Reader
The SanDisk CFexpress type B card reader uses USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C interface and it comes with the USB Type-C cable. Maximum transfer speed will be 1250 MB/s, which will depend on the speed of the card itself and the speed of the computer drive.
SanDisk Extreme PRO CFexpress cards as well as the CFexpress card reader are now available for preorder with an expected shipping date sometime later this year. The prices begin at $150 for the 64GB version and go up to $600 for the largest capacity of 512GB. The card reader is being sold for $50.
What do you think of CFexpress standard? Do you find the speed of older standards not sufficient for your work? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.
The post SanDisk CFexpress – Ultra Fast Cards now Available for Pre-order appeared first on cinema5D.
Last year Shuttercase unsuccessfully attempted to collect funding for the original Shuttercase iPhone camera case. Now the company is back with a redesigned version that is called Shuttercase 2.0 and already available for purchase.
The Shuttercase 2.0 is aimed at iPhone photographers and movie makers who prefer the handling of a traditional camera over smartphone ergonomics for image and video capture. The case comes with a mechanical shutter button and a replaceable camera handle with a leatherette effect cover. The handle also contains a 3000mAh battery. In addition the case offers a mount for all current Moment smartphone lenses.
The modular design – lens mount, camera handle with battery, leatherette cover and thumb rest are all removable – allows you to use the battery pack when taking pictures with your iPhone and removing it and other components and leaving them at home for normal smartphone use. It also sets the Shuttercase apart from competitors such as the Pictar camera grip or battery packs from Mophie and others.
The Shuttercase 2.0 with Moment lens mount is now available for several iPhone models on the Shuttercase website for $78.99. An additional battery pack will set you back $28.99.
Meike introduced a new lens to the market, the MK-12mm T2.2 Cine Lens, expanding its Meike Cine Lens T2.2 Set to three focal lengths. The company will launch five more lenses until early 2020.
The market for Cinema lenses seems to be moving fast. We just announced that Veydra, the company created in 2014 to make Cine lenses for Micro Four Thirds, went out of business, and now we’ve Meike announcing its new Cinema lens, the MK-12mm T2.2. The lens is now available in North America, with shipment no later than September 9th, says the company.
Meike is not new to lenses in general and Cine lenses in particular. Although its name is associated with different equipment, from flashes to battery grips, lenses represent a huge part of its catalog. The new MK-12mm T2.2 Cine Lens now available joins the of Meike T2.2 Cine Lens Series, which includes two other models, the MK-16mm T2.2 and MK-25mm T2.2.
Five lenses coming until March 2020
In fact, Meike’s T2.2 Cine Lens Series is about to get new focal lengths, as the company also announced that this October three new lenses will be available: MK-35mm T2.2, MK-50mm T2.2 and MK-85mm T2.2. These primes cover very much the same focal lengths offered by the now gone Veydra, meaning that, independently of quality (which is not discussed here), videographers and cinematographers have new options in a list of names that, apparently, continues to grow.
There are more new Cinema lenses, to come from Meike, though, as a 70mm will arrive in December, and an 8mm in March 2020. Then, the Meike’s T2.2 Cine Lens Series will have a total of eight lenses, covering everything from 8mm to 85mm, or 16 to 170mm, if the MFT equivalent is considered.
The MK-12mm T2.2 Mini Cine Lens offers a close focus distance of 22 cm, and its equivalent focal length in Micro Four Thirds mount camera bodies is 24mm. Compatible with Olympus, Panasonic Lumix, BMPCC , BMPCC 4K and Zcam E2, the lens delivers, says Meike, “image with smooth, circular bokeh and little to no focus breathing”, very little flaring or blooming.
Cine lenses for Sony and Fujifilm
With a weight of 606 grams, lens construction is based in 15 elements in 10 groups, capable of delivering sharp and clear video, and the filter diameter is 77mm, with a focus ring rotation of 270°. Focus distance and aperture marks on both sides of lens make it easy to adjust those values. Nice smooth focus and aperture control and very long focus throw, perfect for accurately pulling focus, are features mentioned by Meike on its website.
Meike also has versions of its MK-25mm T2.2 available for Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount, but most of its offer in terms of Cine lenses seems to be developed with Micro Four Thirds in mind. The MK-12mm T2.2 Mini Cine Lens is priced at $399.99.
The post Meike MK-12mm T2.2 Cine Lens now available, five more lenses coming appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.
Today, I thought I’d take you through the sometimes agonizing process of figuring out the best way to light on location and some of the tools and techniques I use to get around the obstacles.
We really didn’t know what to expect going into this. Panasonic hasn’t even made an APS-C body before, never mind a full-frame flagship mirrorless camera. Though, it seems they realized the S1 series needed to make a splash if its release was going to trail behind Canon and Nikon’s first foray into professional-grade mirrorless cameras, because the S1R is massive.
This body is titanic compared to its competitors: the A7R III, Z7, and EOS R. Panasonic has decisively abandoned the notion that photographers want mirrorless cameras because of their reduced size and weight. The Panasonic S1R weighs in at 1.98 pounds. That’s about half a pound heavier than the Z7, or less than an ounce shy of the medium format Fuji GFX 50S! This camera is a beast!
We’ll leave it to other reviewers to let you know whether or not the S1R’s performance warrants the weight. Our job is to open this camera body up and see where all that weight is coming from. As always, we’ll also comment on the build quality and weather sealing while giving you a closeup look at what we find during disassembly.
All of the S1R’s ports, doors, and covers are well-sealed from the elements with deep ridges and rubberized edges. This is now the standard for full-frame mirrorless cameras, as we’ve seen with the other flagships on the market.
Before we got on with the teardown, I just wanted to point out that this hulking camera body comes with a battery to match. It’s closer to a battery you’d find with a sports camera or insert into a battery grip. This huge battery would explain the CIPA battery life rating of 650, nearly double that of the A7R III.
It starts, as all cameras do, by removing the screws on the outside of the body, hidden within the port covers, and behind the removable EVF eyecup.
Then, you start skinning the poor thing. As you can see above, removing much of the rubber reveals screws critical for disassembly including these cool red ones. But, why are they red? We couldn’t find any particular rhyme or reason to the coloring.
The port side cover, in the literal and nautical sense, comes off first. Then the back section including the entire LCD assembly lets go, revealing the motherboard and a first look at the inside.
The motherboard is exceptionally neat and tidy. The connectors are neatly arranged at the top and bottom, and the card readers both fit nicely on the right side.
Panasonic didn’t bury this board in heat sinking material either, suggesting the S1R has excellent heat management. We can also clearly see some rubberization around the edges where the large main outer parts meet, further suggesting that this camera does well in adverse weather conditions.
The reverse side of the back/LCD section is very tidy, with two easily accessed ribbon cables.
The EVF itself actually comes right out along with it. This is the first time we’ve seen this type of arrangement on a full-frame mirrorless.
With the removal of a few more screws and all connections, the motherboard can be neatly extracted and set aside for a closer look.
And the reverse side…
Underneath the motherboard lies a single heat shield along with a few pads of heat-sinking material stuck to its face. This comes out as one large piece once the screws are removed.
Further in, we find the shutter mechanism (right) and sensor/IBIS assembly (left).
Several very long deep-set screws must be removed to free IBIS system and sensor within. This requires a screwdriver with some extra reach.
This will also free to top section of the camera. Here is a closer look at the underside of that part group.
Though it may be exceptionally large (as are the springs that it rests on), it seems to be worth its weight in performance. The Panasonic S1R boasts a chart-topping CIPA image stabilization rating of 6, beating the Nikon Z7’s 5-stop rating and the Sony A7R III’s 5.5 stops.
A quick look at what lies beneath before we disassemble the sensor further.
Remove the last few screws, and both layers of IR/UV blocking glass can be removed. During an infrared conversion, both of these glass layers are permanently replaced by glass with infrared or full-spectrum transmission.
The top layer of this IR/UV blocking glass (above) doubles as the camera’s automatic sensor cleaning mechanism. It is connected to the motherboard electronically via that ribbon cable you see in the photo which can trigger vibrations that shake off surface dust particles. This is why we here at Kolari refer to it simply as a “shaker”.
Our journey ends here, at the bare sensor. There is still a layer of clear, full-spectrum glass here separating the bayer array from the outside world, but it is physically bonded to the sensor itself and much more risky to remove.
These layers of sensor cover glass have a combined thickness of roughly 1.45 millimeters. This is thinner than the EOS R, but a decent sight thicker then the Z7’s 1.1mm, the thinnest we’ve come across yet. This makes the S1R a poor candidate for legacy Leica lens performance despite the partnership with Leica, meaning this camera is another excellent candidate for our Ultra-Thin filter modification service.
The Panasonic S1R is an impressive machine inside and out. Panasonic has clearly decided to go there own way with the design of their first full-frame while still providing something that meets the requirements of a professional photographer, or at least one with very strong arms.
About the author: Pat Nadolski is a photographer and technician at Kolari Vision, an infrared camera conversion business based in New Jersey. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can learn more about the company’s service’s on its website. This article was also published here.
At the upcoming IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) in September, TVU Networks, a global leader in live IP solutions, will introduce the cloud-based TVU Talkshow – the first all-in-one solution for multi-camera production that enables audience participation with video. TVU Networks will introduce the TVU Talkshow solution and its full line of products and services for […]
The post IBC 2019: TVU Networks Multi-Camera Production Solution appeared first on Below the Line.
Peter Lindbergh, the German fashion photography icon who is was credited with ushering in “the rise of the supermodel,” passed away yesterday at the age of 74. The announcement was made earlier today through Lindbergh’s official Instagram account.
Born Peter Brodbeck in Leszno, Poland, on November 23rd, 1944, Lindbergh began his artistic career as a painter. He studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in the 60s, and only discovered his passion for photography accidentally, after finding that he enjoyed taking pictures of his brother’s children. He opened his first photography studio in Düsseldorf in 1973, kicking off a professional career that spanned over four decades.
His impact on the fashion photography industry is difficult to overstate. His images of supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and actresses like Helen Mirren and Nicole Kidman have graced the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, always in black and white, always classically composed and beautifully rendered. In recent years, his comments on retouching have helped to push the fashion industry in a more positive direction.
“A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality,” said Lindberg in the May 2016 issue of Art Forum. “How surrealistic is today’s commercial agenda to retouch all signs of life and of experience, to retouch the very personal truth of the face itself?”
More famously, he once wrote: “This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”
Lindbergh’s passing was announced on his official Instagram account just hours ago.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Peter Lindbergh on September 3rd 2019, at the age of 74,” reads the post. “He is survived by his wife Petra, his first wife Astrid, his four sons Benjamin, Jérémy, Simon, Joseph and seven grandchildren. He leaves a big void.”
“A big void” is an understatement. As Lindbergh’s death reverberates across the photography industry, and remembrances begin pouring in from models and editors who worked with him, take a moment to review some of Lindbergh’s most iconic work and pay homage to his legacy.
Photographers the world over owe him a debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace.
Us photographers love our expensive gear that features the best quality in optics, autofocus, sensor design, and more and offers us the utmost control of every last setting. So, could you take a shooting challenge with the lowest quality camera and absolutely no control over any settings? Check out this fun disposable camera challenge.
Tamron has released firmware updates for three of its F mount lenses to add support for Nikon’s FTZ adapter.
Back in November 2018, Tamron announced firmware updates (1, 2) for half a dozen lenses that added support for Nikon’s F to Z mount adapter. Now, three additional lenses gain support: the Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F016), 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD (Model A034) and 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD (Model A035).
No additional changes are mentioned in the firmware update, but regardless of whether or not you have a Nikon Z6 or Z7 camera, it’s probably in your best interest to download and install the firmware updates using the embedded links above.
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019
The post MEN IN BLACK – INTERNATIONAL: VFX Breakdown by DNEG appeared first on The Art of VFX.
I started my photography business in 2009 as a dance photographer. At the time I felt like I had to work my way into the industry blindly. There were plenty of resources to learn how to become a wedding photographer or a senior portrait photographer, or even photographing newborns or family portraits. But there was nothing on dance photography.
What equipment did I need? What products should I offer? What prices should I charge? What marketing strategies should I use? I was clueless and in 2009, hardly anyone identified themselves as a dance photographer. I couldn’t even tell which photographers or studios were doing these shoots, so I couldn’t ask anyone.
It took me a few years to begin partnering with dance studios. I had been photographing the Houston Ballet and some other professional dance companies, and through that, I had been published in Dance Magazine a few times. That, and the artistic quality of my work, was my entry into the professional dance photography business.
Now, 10 years later, there are still not viable resources out there for people wanting to break into the dance photography business. And dance schools are still using national companies that do the high school yearbooks, or sometimes using people who don’t have the equipment, experience, or skills to create professional portraits.
My wife, Beth, and I decided to change that this year, and so we founded Pas de Deux Photo, an organization designed solely to be a platform for the community of dance photographers. We created our website full of resources, and we are now ready to offer our first dance photography conference in Phoenix on Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2020. We will feature some of the most well-known dance photographers, including Jordan Matter, Rachel Neville, Eric Pare of Canada, Jonathan Givens, David Hofmann, and Taylor-Ferne Morris of Australia, and others.
As a dance photography enthusiast, it’s exciting to have all this talent at one conference in one weekend. These speakers bring a wide range of skills and worldly experience to the conference. Matter and Givens have both had books published, and Hofmann is one of the most widely sought-out dance photographers on Instagram. Neville is amazing with the work she produces at her studio in New York, and on the road with numerous major professional dance companies. Morris does a lot of work with the Australian Ballet and other professional dance companies in Australia. Pare and his partner, dancer Kim Henry, do cutting-edge work with light-painting, and are constantly traveling the world to do workshops.
The conference is designed to provide attendees with classes on the artistic side of photographing dancers, both using natural light outdoors and also using strobes in a studio setting. There will be classes on how to acquire dance schools, and how to do the recital costume portrait sessions, right down to providing pricing information and how to do your workflow. There will be business classes and editing classes. We want to help photographers develop marketing and workflow strategies to form strong relationships with dancers and dance studios.
Photographing a single medium-sized dance school’s costume recital portrait session can potentially generate $8,000 in revenue. One large dance school (800-plus students) can generate potentially more than $24,000 or more in revenue, not to mention doing multiple sessions with the studio throughout the year, and all the individual and family sessions that derive from that. We’ll teach you how you can do that at the conference. Learning how to secure these gigs and to produce gorgeous photos will be covered at the conference. The hardest part about this conference will be choosing which classes to take.
We decided to hold this inaugural conference in Phoenix at the Arizona Grand Resort so we could be blessed with good weather, and because the resort has so many great settings to do photo shoots with dancers.
There will be dozens of dancers there to go out and model for photo shoots on the resort grounds, or head over to some hills in the desert just a few blocks away. We will also have several studio rooms set up with dancers so you can test out lighting equipment and build your portfolio at the same time.
Some of our classes will include being able to watch Rachel Neville, or one of the other featured presenters, working with dancers as if they were doing a real shoot in their studio. But they’ll be talking to you, and talking about what’s going on in their minds as they do the shoot.
There will also be exhibitors there to help answer any questions you might have about their products.
The Early Bird discount will end on Sept. 15, so sign up now to take advantage of that. Our Early Bird attendees will be the first ones allowed to sign up for the free 20-minute spots in the studio setups with dancers, and on-location photo walks with Jordan Matter, Jonathan Givens, David Hofmann, and Taylor-Ferne Morris.
Here’s where you can go to learn about the conference: https://www.pasdedeuxphoto.com/conference-1.
I hope to see you there!
Full disclosure: This article was sponsored by the International Dance Photography Conference.
About the author: Ron McKinney is an award-winning Chicago-based dance photographer and the founder of Pas de Deux Photography and the International Dance Photography Conference. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of McKinney’s work on his website and Instagram. You can sign up for the conference here.
One of the most commonly touted features in lens design are aspherical elements, though you might wonder just what that rather technical-sounding name refers to. This excellent video will give you an introduction to aspherical elements, including what they are, how they function, and why they are so highly desired by photographers.
It was, for most of them, the first happy time in their lives, and for some, the last and only. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as part of his New Deal, penned the Civilian Conservation Corps into existence. Its primary goal was job creation: young men, aged 17-28, could sign up to work as unskilled laborers, usually on projects to develop the nation’s national parks and forests.
Pay was thirty bucks a month — the origin of the phrase “another day, another dollar” — of which 25 was to be sent home to their families. Over the course of its nine-year run, almost three million men joined.
The labor was unskilled, and the companies were segregated. Still, there was the hope that it would train them for future work, as young men, often from eastern cities, were shipped around the nation to breathe fresh air and do menial tasks.
“I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work,” Roosevelt said, “more important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.”
To Roosevelt, it was his favorite idea.
General Douglas MacArthur was placed in charge of the program, and the camps were run by officers from the U.S. Army Reserve. When the ominous gray wars across both oceans finally arrived in America, alumni of the program were given preferential enlistments as corporals and sergeants.
No military training was given. Instead, young men from all corners of the nation were given picks and axes, buckets and shovels, and set to work on composing America’s natural anthem. At night, far from home, they’d sit at campfires together among one another, people with names, ethnicities, religions, cities the others had never heard of, watching pink spun-cotton skies give way to a million stars.
Enrollments of only one year were allowed; it wasn’t uncommon for departing members to gundeck their paperwork and join again and again, to go back north and south and east and west with new names, new birth dates, new assignments.
The men are gone. The continental garden they built remains.
My grandfather was a member of one such company; the men in that unit, all northeasterners, were formed as Company 298 and shipped by train out to the Eldorado National Forest northeast of Placerville, California, a quaint wood-and-nails gold rush boom city first known as Dry Diggins, and then as Hangtown.
Two years ago, scrounging through the back of a closet, I came across an album of hundreds and hundreds of photographs of everyday life in the CCC — young men, sweaty and shirtless, smiling, goofing off, occasionally working. Grandfather, it turns out, had been the president (and perhaps sole member) of Company 298’s Photography Club.
The photographs — all contact prints made from 620 film — were made on a Kodak Diomatic Folding Camera; 1936 advertisements for the camera price it at $17.50, or roughly three and a half months of a CCC member’s take-home pay.
They are not great photographs. It’s not hard to imagine, but the untrained camera club teenager working with a difficult camera in spare moments was neither gifted nor lucky. What they do offer, however, is an autograph of a moment.
Company 298, in its time out in Eldorado, built bridges, cleared creekbed parks, dug out campgrounds, worked on dams, developed lakeshores, cracked tolerable roads out of slickrock. Today, almost all of it is, like any good campsite, left just as they found it — tarred highways traveled by unimaginable giant cars, lakes full of swimmers and kayakers and fishermen, and creek beds that, it being named El Dorado, after all, still have woolly men panning through the current and silt for coruscating flecks of gold.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home,” said John Muir, father of fatherless Yosemite, a land that was born unto itself. “That wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
The land is a love poem, and not all love poems are tender. At Eldorado — perched deep into California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains- yearly forest fires have decimated the landscape, and all five of that state’s largest forest fires have occurred since 2000. At times, the terrain — like its history — feels impassable. The lush green camps seen in the Depression summers have given way to dry, overgrown brown brush and cockleburrs; the forests are now dotted with dead copses, gaunt and leafless, like wild uncut stray hair, blanched white not by old age but disastrous fire.
Grandfather labeled many of the photographs’ people, but not their places; working over the course of 13 months with the U.S. Forest Service, aided by Eldorado’s rangers, archaeologists, and local historians, we found many of the locations seen in the 1937 photographs, often lining up tiny elements — this tree, fattened by eighty years of rain, or that, withered into death by a few minutes of fire — and historical maps, foundations.
Most of what they built stands just where they left it. The original CCC camp, however, is empty fields, with brakes of brick foundations and rotting 1930s trucks punctuating an expansive thicket of pine, spruce, burnt black oak. But the ghosts remain.
The past is a choose-your-own-adventure story that you did not choose. Following the stories of the grinning boys in these pictures leads to an array of unremarkable men who did remarkable things. Following the Civilian Conservation Corps, some of the workers became forest rangers themselves, ever-touched by the feel of morning dew and the scent of cedars baltering in the rain.
Most, four years later, found their way into the terrible sequel to the terrible world war their fathers fought in; no longer pick-ax men of the forest, they ended up as sailors and soldiers and marines, helped save the world before returning, shell-shocked, to New Jersey and New York and Pennsylvania and living out the normal lives that society requires.
Some were not so lucky; lean, muscular John Bookholt, perched atop a rock at Crystal Basin, wearing a smile as big as all outdoors, left the war in 1945, disfigured and disabled. He opened a Pennsylvania furniture store, and died last year.
Tracing the later histories of the named youngsters seen in these photographs, one finds that fully half of them later died of liver problems.
Some never made it that long: Joseph Fleury, sweaty and grinning on a log fence in Eldorado in 1937, ended up fighting in the Philippines, and died of disease in a Japanese camp in 1943.
Dashed from existence, it’s easy to mourn him: beaming, handsome, but timeworn Joseph Fleury, a calcium husk in an undignified Pacific grave.
Then one remembers: the past is present. If we are what we do, if we are what we create — the driving force that has kept our species breeding and building since the dawn of time — then these men are more.
The land is mostly the same as they left it, young, their whole lives ahead of them but perhaps the best of it behind them. They are roads, they are bridges, they are fields. They are a forest of trees. They are unseen ghosts, footprints in sand and soil as children laugh by a lake, as families pitch tents, as gold panners grab their beards and curse their luck that another sift has come up empty.
They are, in one little corner of the world, a living memory, breathing in again every time someone with new eyes sits in their forest, peering up at the softening sky, watching the clouds turn to color.
Editor’s note: After finding his grandfather’s photos, photographer B.A. Van Sise worked with the Forest Service over a period of 13 months, locating all the sites seen in the pictures. Van Sise then revisited and rephotographed those sites 82 years after they were photographed by his grandfather. Combining the two views resulted in the then-and-now photos seen in this project.
About the authors: Gordon W. Van Sise (1919-1990) was at various points in his life a construction worker, truck driver, house painter, mechanic, soldier, and fisherman— all skills he learned in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
B.A. Van Sise is an internationally-known photographer and the author of the visual poetry anthology Children of Grass. His visual work has appeared in major museum exhibitions throughout the United States, including at the Center for Creative Photography, Peabody Essex Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, and Los Angeles Center of Photography. His written work has previously appeared in Poets & Writers, the Southampton Review, Eclectica, and the North American Review. You can find more of Van Sise’s work on his website and Instagram.