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A place to remember and to share articles, videos, and information about art and culture. My primary audience is students of the arts, with the purpose of expanding the discussion and encouraging research.

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Entries in Digital Photography (18)


Diamond Head

Last night 13 inches of snow fell in my yard, and today school was closed. I love a free day, and for awhile now, I have wanted to try animating a City Walls image. So today, I sat with a heater on my feet and made this little gem. Enjoy.

Image credit: Rene' West, Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved


Steampunk Camera Obscura

This is just too cool, and I had to share. Joseph Barone turned an old flatbed scanner into a camera using gold duct tape and a magnifying glass as a lens. The resulting images, and the camera, are beautiful. Click the link to see images.

Photo Credit: Joseph Barone's Camera


Images Matter

When reporting the news images really do matter, and this is a great example of how image and text can sway public opinion. The image on the left is of a protestor throwing a Molotov cocktail, and the other image is of a peaceful protestor begging for answers with police in riot gear in the background. Both have the same headline: "All Hell Breaks Loose." PDN has a great article up about how readers on Twittr disliked the image, which eventually led to the paper changing the picture to the one on the right.

The images reminded me of another controversial trial in America that dealt with race - OJ Simpson. These images of his mugshot were published by Time and Newsweek at the time of his arrest, and were on newsstands the same week.

There is a great deal of discussion about the manipulation of this image related to the ethics of digital photography. It is just so easy to darken or lighten skin, put heads on different bodies, etc. However, through the years of teaching about this image of OJ, I have noticed something else about it. Newsweek has the lighter skin, but notice the caption, "Trail of Blood." Time is the same picture with darker skin and the text reads, "An American Tragedy." In the end, to me anyway, it seems like both point the reader to the same conclusion just in different ways.

The television has been in our living rooms since the 50's, and the camera has been around since the late 1830's. We still only teach our children the alphabet and numbers, and never say a word about images, which are incredibly persuasive. I'm sure this makes the advertising industry really happy, but I think it is way past time that we started teaching media literacy in grade school.

Photo Credit for top image: PDN news via Philadelphia Daily News


Student Cinemagraphs

A year ago the local PBS station interviewed my students about a virtual exhibition that we had on campus that used QR codes and was viewed exclusively on cell phones. The exhibition was their cinemagraph projects in Photo Digital Imaging II. I completely forgot about them shooting footage, but just now a student sent this link to me.



I have been meaning to post these for a while now. Here are two of my favorite cinemagraphs from the Digital Imaging II class last semester. This was such a fun project, and it concluded with a QR Code exhibition on campus that was viewable on smart phones when people scanned the codes.

Dylan Holman


Elizabeth Beckham

DIY info on how to make a cinemagraph in Photoshop


Juxtaposition of Bees

Recently, I led a conversation on contemporary photography at the Amarillo Museum of Art, I divided the talk into trends and then juxtaposed two images for each topic. This post is about one of the pairings, and I am adding a music video that takes a similar device and turns it in a new direction.

The image above is by Richard Avedon from his series In the American West. This was a documentary project funded by the Amon Carter Museum. It was juxtaposed with the image below by Maggie Taylor, entitled, "Girl in a Bee Dress." The purpose of this juxtaposition was to talk about real/surreal, documentary/digital, and the age old notion of photographic truth. I like the added bonus that both images relied on bees as a visual element.

As I mentioned before the Avedon image is from a documentary project, and so there is an embedded veracity. The image by Taylor is clearly constructed, painterly, and a beautiful fantasy. Yet, it still holds some semblance of truth because the main image is a photograph.

However, the Avedon image is as constructed as Taylor's digital composite.

The subject of the Avedon photograph, Ron Fischer of rural Orion, Illinois, got the gig by responding to an ad in a beekeeper magazine looking for a person willing to be photographed with bees by a world-famous photographer. Since the project was a series of portraits from the western United States, the team decided to fly Mr. Fischer out to California for the shoot. This was supposed to make the image more truthful. Here is how they created the photograph.

To get the bees to land on Fischer, a university entomologist he was acquainted with patted queen bee pheromone (an attractant for other bees) onto several spots on Fischer’s head and chest.

Then, about 200 feet away, packages of bees were opened on the ground. The bees detected the pheromone and began to move.

Fischer still remembers watching the swarm of bees heading his way.

“They started forming a cloud over my head,” he says.

He wasn’t exactly scared, but he wasn’t sure what to expect, either, because he’d “never done anything like this before.

 “Then they started landing on my head and chest. What was really something is that each bee has six legs. If you multiply that by thousands of bees, it sort of tickles over your bare skin.”

He was stung twice, but to no ill effect. Fischer posed for an hour-and-a-half the first day and a half-hour a second day.

When Avedon was finished, Fischer gently brushed off the bees, put on a shirt and got into a car.

The description of creating this photograph makes clear it is entirely a fictional construct, and yet it resides, and is one of the most iconic images, in this documentary project.

Maggie Taylor does not ask her viewers to believe the images are real; she creates fantasies, places for the imagination to play. She could create these images without any photographs, but all of her composites contain at least one photograph of a person. For me, this heightens the imaginary space; the photograph adds a veracity that lingers in the images. The photograph makes the viewer want to believe.

By the time Avedon makes his photograph, the battle over whether photography is objective or subjective is dead. Throughout the project he relies on the repetition of the white backdrop, diffused light and large format camera, to lull the viewer into believing all of the photos in the project are equally honest. Digital technology has renewed the debate on photographic truth; because it is so easy to manipulate photographs, we must view them with a skeptic's eye. In reality, photographers have always known how to bend the truth to serve their purpose.

During the conversation at the museum, a surprising aspect of this pair of images was that some people did not think Maggie Taylor should even be included because "she is not a photographer." It is true, she does not use a camera, and instead uses a flatbed scanner to create her composites. Still she uses the language of photography to make images, so while she may not be a photographer, she is at least a photographic artist. The practice of using photographs dates back to at least Dada and photomontage, which tracks to the proliferation of images in magazine due to the invention of halftone printing. Once the photograph ceases to be a precious object, artists start using it as a found object in their work.

Now add this video by Blind Melon featuring another bee girl. Here the bee suit is used as a metaphor for the awkwardness of adolescence, staying true to the muse, and searching for acceptance. It seems like a fun place to end.

Photo Credits:

Top Image - Richard Avedon, "Ronald Fischer, Beekeeper" 1981

Second Image - Maggie Taylor, "Girl in a Bee Dress" 2004


Getty Trust Open Content

One of my newest images just made the Getty Museum Tumblr page, I'm doing a Snoopy happy dance right now ;-)

The collages are created from artwork owned the Getty Museum and available through their Open Content Program. As a collagist, this is like being given the keys to the candy store, I am thrilled to be working with such a treasure trove of images.

Image Credit: Rene' West, Whispering Muse, 2013


Customizing Inkjet Negatives

Step by step instructions on how to customize a digital inkjet negative, establish a color for the mask and a specific curve, for any alternative process. Warning: total geekland.


First Apple Computer Sold at Auction

One of the first Apple computers sold for $210,000 at an auction today at Christie’s in London.

Image Credit: First Apple Ad



WARNING: Do not do this in the Amarillo Wind!

An article on goofy ways to shoot with a digital camera to create effects that look like light leaks in film cameras. It can also create some other odd looking effects. 

A student sent this to me via Luke Roberts blog, his website has lots of photo stuff including an area dedicated to Gimp (PhotoShop Open Source)

Lensbaby also makes some cool lenses that create artistic distortions and effects for SLR. Check out the Gallery.

Illustration Credit: Unknown, found on Luke Roberts blog