Articles by: Peter Poulides

Review of the documentary “War Photographer”

(Note from Jillian: I am pretty sure we created DCP Movie Nights specifically to show War Photographer. Peter has been talking about this movie since the idea developed and we cannot wait to show this documentary about James Nachtwey.)

Without good photojournalists we would have few honest images of what goes on in the world. Think about that. These photographers are the ones who willingly go into zones of war, famine and human suffering. They bear witness and send back images so the rest of us, from a safe distance, can ask questions and come to conclusions of our own. Many of them die for their efforts. What Nachtwey brings to this tradition is compassion. His images, while often hard to look at, are about the humanity of his subjects.

I saw this movie for the first time five years ago in my living room. I remember sitting on my couch and not moving for an hour and a half. I had known James Nachtwey’s work for years. His were the images that often stopped me in my tracks and demanded more time, more involvement from me as the viewer. To watch him at work was a revelation. The director of the film attached two small cameras to Nachtwey’s own Canon camera, one pointed over his lens toward the action, the other pointed back at the photographer. It’s an immersive and dramatic technique that takes you into the field to directly experience this amazing photographer at work. As one reviewer said, “This is as close to being inside a photojournalist’s mind as it gets”.

Besides the exquisite visual elements of his photographs, this film is about Nachtwey’s struggle with the job itself. Mr. Nachtwey says of his own work “Every minute I was there, I wanted to flee. I did not want to see this. Would I cut and run, or would I deal with the responsibility of being there with a camera.” Fortunately for all of us, he stays and takes pictures.

To purchase a ticket visit Movie Night at DCP.

Boy in Frame

“Boy in Frame” from the documentary War Photographer.

 

Moldy Cameras

(This is an update and repost of an earlier article)

I have a collection of toy and cheap cameras that I started about 30 years ago. My rule for the first couple of years was that I wouldn’t spend more than a dollar. Sometimes I would find 5 or 6 at a thrift store. Then my family started looking for them. I still get a bag of garage sale cameras every Christmas from my brother.  I now have probably 500-600 cameras stashed in cardboard boxes on some industrial shelves at the studio.

For a while there has been a tiny leak in one of the concrete studio walls and I was dutifully collecting the water in a bucket. When I went to the studio yesterday during a downpour I discovered water dripping from a new place, right under the shelf that holds my collection. Turns out a trickle of water had been going into one of the boxes for the last few months. Unwrapping the cameras was gross and sad. I had to throw away about a half dozen, including a nice small wooden view camera that had fallen apart. The biggest shock was this Argus C3, which was in its original box. The box was a black, sodden, smelly mess. I’m guessing that the combination of water, darkness and the leather case made a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

(Update)
When this originally happened, I set up a softbox and took some forensic photos as a document of this beautiful catastrophe. Those documentary images of moldy evidence have turned into some of my favorite photos. This is a lesson I’ve learned repeatedly, that I’m often really not qualified to judge or edit my photos at the time I take them. Time has a way of revealing the depth and meaning of a photo.

Does anyone still use a 56K modem? Adobe thinks so.

Plano Camera Club Print Competition

Occasionally I get asked to judge photo contests for one of the camera clubs in the area. This time it’s for the Plano Camera Club and the category is “open”, meaning any subject matter can be submitted. This is also a print competition so instead of judging images on a screen I get to handle actual photograph, which is always fun. It’s really interesting to look at the range of photos made by beginners through “master” level photographers. The photo is from the studio where I had the prints laid out for review.

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Multnomah Falls, Oregon

I just got back from a week in Oregon and had a chance to download just a few of the photos so far.  This is a quick B&W conversion from Multnomah Falls, on the scenic highway that runs through the Columbia River Valley just outside of Portland.  The processing is a little heavy across the top but I think this will turn into a real keeper with a little more (or less!) work. Shot with a 16-35mm lens, D600, f11, 1 second, 3 stop (very wet:) neutral density filter.

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Search Everything, an amazing Windows utility

I use Windows. There, I said it. I’ve built my own machines for years and currently manage six Windows 7 systems at work and home. So I’m always interested in utilities that make work easier and faster. One the very best I’ve found is Search Everything. It is free, fast, uses very few resources and will find a file on your computer in a fraction of a second. I use it several times a day and it’s much more efficient than the built in Windows search. In fact, I think Microsoft should build this in to their OS from now on.

It is malware-free and doesn’t bother you with popups. It doesn’t cost anything but donations are encouraged (by the author and by me!). Download from Voidtools here.

Search-Everything-Dallas-Center-for-Photography

SMU Historical Aerial Photos

I recently discovered that Southern Methodist University here in Dallas (SMU) has a nice online collection of historical photographs. Included is a group of photos titles “Miscellaneous Aerial Views of Dallas, 1930s-1940s”. They are a fascinating look at our city in earlier decades. The one below is titled “Mid-Town Business District” from 1935 and has call outs for the major buildings.

You can find the SMU photo collection here. The site is well worth spending some time on!

SMU-Dallas-Dallas-Center-for-Photography

Falls In Oregon

We’re at the end of a week-long family trip to Oregon. Man, is it gorgeous out here! Today we took a drive on old scenic highway 30 near Portland and I stopped along the way to shoot some new shutter speed examples for the DSLR classes. First photo is just below Bridal Veil falls. The second is at Multnomah Falls, the third is a very wet neutral density filter on a 16-35mm lens. It’s a 3 stop ND filter which allowed me to slow the shutter down in order to get some decent shots of water in motion.

 

Good gloves for cold weather shooting

I’m in Oregon for a week and today we’re in Cannon Beach. This is Haystack Rock at low tide on a cold morning. I’m wearing my favorite shooting glove combo, fingerless wool combined with liners sporting fingertip pads for smartphone touch screens.

Haystack-Rock-Glove-Dallas-Center-for-Photography

At the crossroads of patience and truth