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This Week in Photography Books: Nina Berman

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:25am

 

I’m not feeling very creative at the moment.

The sky is gray out my window, and the dreary light is making me lazy. In a perfect world, I’d get back in bed, pull the covers around me tight, and take a big fat nap.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

I bitch and complain as much as the next guy, but in general, I’m aware of how good I have it. While life can turn on any given day, I’m healthy, have a beautiful family, and live in a wonderful place.

If I feel hunger, I go to the refrigerator and make myself some food. So in the grand scheme of things, I have little to complain about.

Living with comfort and security is the root of the American Dream. Without question, we take it for granted. It’s hard not to, as the micro-stresses of daily life add up, and in the aggregate make it difficult to maintain perspective.

As artists, we have a built-in stress relief mechanism, as long as we have the energy to use it. I’ve written many times that I taught abused teenagers for 10 years, and was able to see firsthand how creative outlets allowed them to channel the powerful emotions they have, in response to their tragic circumstances.

Art is its own form of therapy.

I knew my students had undergone horrific situations. As I wasn’t their therapist, I never asked for details. (It didn’t seem appropriate.) My wife, who is a therapist, and works with the same population, has heard frightening stories that would make most people reach for a bottle of whiskey.

Or a big fat joint.

She doesn’t tell me the details, because she’s not allowed. (It’s all confidential.) So she keeps it inside, and sometimes goes to therapy herself, but when things are really bad, I can see the stress energy wafting off her skin like the heat waves that rise from my old wood stove.

Frankly, it’s rare that we find ourselves inside someone else’s nightmare. Sure, some people like to get scared, and pay to watch a creepy movie.

But that’s fiction.

Occasionally, we find ourselves privy to someone else’s darkest secrets. Occasionally, we choose not to look away. (Even when it’s the stuff of pure darkness.)

In my six and half years writing this column, I’ve often shared that my favorite photobooks are experiential. They carefully consider how to unspool the thread of their narrative; how to engage an audience by divulging details in just the right way.

I love books that show me things I haven’t seen before, and give me insights I couldn’t otherwise access.

I’ve also admitted to being something of an Anglophile, as I’m addicted to English football, and wrote stories on this very blog about my remarkably joyous trips to London in 2012 and ’13.

It’s easy to idealize a place when you only see its slick surface. People do that with Taos all the time. They come here thinking it’s a quaint, little tourist mecca, with hip art galleries and magnificent nature.

But as I’ve said before, it’s the most hard-core place I’ve ever lived, and I did a three year stint in Brooklyn.

There are plenty entertainment options that glamorize English gangsters, like the stylish “Peaky Blinders,” the several movies about the Krays, or (insert random Guy Richie movie here.)

But I just put down a photo book that made my head spin, in a good way, though its contents are shockingly awful. (The kind of awful that enlightens, not the kind that comes from poor execution.)

“An autobiography of Miss Wish” is a new book by Nina Berman, in conjunction with Kimberly Stevens, which was published in the fall by Kehrer Verlag in Germany. It’s generated a fair amount of positive press, and I feel fortunate to have been sent a copy a few months ago, when I was actively soliciting submissions from female artists.

(By the way, the first round of outreach was successful, but I’m down to my last two books by female photographers, so hopefully you guys can help spread the word to get a new batch of submissions for us.)

Kimberly Stevens is the latest name adopted by an Englishwoman who’s had as difficult a life as I’ve ever encountered. This book shares the kind of stories my wife keeps to herself. It’s hard to read what is presented here; to look at Nina Berman’s photographs, and Kimberly’s drawings and diary entries.

The shortest version is that Ms. Stevens was adopted at two into a family of violent, murderous, child-purchasing, sex traffickers. She was raped, tortured, and prostituted for her entire childhood. Even worse, the gang that ran her continued to kidnap her anytime anyone stepped in to help.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, I’ll photograph the drawing she made of a dismemberment, part of a series of flashbacks that were symptoms of extreme mental illness brought on by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In what can only be described as a coincidence, or an act of God, Nina Berman bumped into Kimberly in the early 90s in London, when she was still going by the name of Cathy Wish. She photographed her roaming the city, and they struck a friendship.

As Kimberly’s captors were so well-connected that the police couldn’t protect her, an officer from Scotland Yard suggested she escape to America, and even gave her the money to buy a ticket.

So she came to the United States, (the exact type of immigrant our current president despises,) and made a life for herself on the streets, in the shelters, jails and mental institutions of New York City.

Throughout, Kimberly has suffered from multiple personality disorder, suicidal tendencies, drug addiction, HIV, and dissociative fugue states.

(Like I said, this gives hard-core a new definition.)

The book, which is remarkably well done, shares the story with us in a variety of ways. From medical reports to text messages, consistently interspersed with Ms. Berman’s documentary images, we’re given access to Kimberly Stevens’ life story.

Throughout her time in our country, Nina Berman proved to be her support system.

Her family.

Her rock.

I interviewed Nina Berman for this blog many years ago. She struck me as an extreme personality. You have to be, to somehow believe Kimberly Stevens could carve out a life worth living. That she wouldn’t be better off just jumping off a bridge, or out a window, both of which she tried to do.

Instead, they made this book as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the ultimate survivor.

As far as I’m concerned, photobooks don’t get much better than this.

Bottom line: A collaborative masterpiece

To purchase “An autobiography of Miss Wish,” click here


If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

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Categories: Business

Knitting Factory To Book TRUE, New Nashville Venue In Cambria Hotel

MusicRow.com - Nashville Music Industry - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:24am
Knitting Factory Presents is expanding its footprint into Nashville with a new exclusive [...]
Categories: Music Industry

Meet Nathalia Gaviria, the Colombian Fashion Designer Behind J Balvin's Cultural 'Machika' Video

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:15am
After debuting in the top 10 of the Hot Latin Songs chart and garnering 72 millions views on YouTube in a month, it’s no...
Categories: Music Industry

'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 10 Premiere Date Revealed: Watch Teaser Clip

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:14am
Drag Race fans won’t even have time for a wig reveal between All Stars 3 and season 10. VH1 announced that the highly anticipated...
Categories: Music Industry

Weekly Chart Report 2/16/18

MusicRow.com - Nashville Music Industry - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:01am
This week's No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Chart is "Five More Minutes" by [...]
Categories: Music Industry

Three Days Grace Debuts 'I Am An Outsider' From Upcoming Album: Exclusive

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:00am
"I Am The Outsider," premiering exclusively here, defines both the theme of Three Days Grace's upcoming album ...
Categories: Music Industry

Demi Lovato Strips Down 'Tell Me You Love Me' For Acoustic Video: Watch

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:45am
Demi Lovato just dropped an acoustic version of her latest Billboard Hot 100 hit “Tell Me You Love Me," the title track from her most...
Categories: Music Industry

The 5 Best Music Moments From 'Black Panther'

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:45am
Marvel’s Black Panther was first introduced in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War but after a standout, memorable debut alongside Marvel...
Categories: Music Industry

Celebrities Hit Twitter to Express Excitement Over 'Black Panther' Opening

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:42am
As the anticipation for Black Panther reached a boiling point last night, fans flocked to theaters across the country donning Black...
Categories: Music Industry

Microsoft Photos Companion app offers easy photo transfer from smartphones to PC

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:35am

Microsoft has launched a new app to facilitate easy photo transfer from mobile devices to a Windows 10 PC, without using the cloud. Photos Companion is available for iOS and Android and deposits your mobile images in the Windows Photos app on the desktop or laptop PC using just a WiFi network.

To get started, you have to scan a QR code in the Windows Photos desktop app to pair smartphone and computer. Both devices have to be connected to the same WiFi network, which in turn allows you to send individual images or entire batches across very quickly. It is, in essence, the exact same system as Apple's AirDrop, but limited to photos and videos.

Pairing isn't permanent, and will have to be re-established for each sharing operation. Still, that's easily done and the app looks like an interesting solution for collecting media files from multiple mobile devices on a single PC for working on collaborative projects.

Once on the PC, images and videos can be shared and edited in the Windows Photo app as usual. If Photos Companion sounds like an app that could potentially improve your workflow, you can find more information and app store links on the Microsoft website.

Categories: Equipment

Judge Rules News Publishers Violated Copyright by Embedding Tweets

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:20am
In a huge surprise, a New York federal judge on Thursday delivered a blow to nine news organizations defending their use of a Tom Brady photo. The...
Categories: Music Industry

Missy Elliott & Lil Kim Stop by Teyana Taylor's New Nail Salon

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:16am
Earlier this month, Teyana Taylor announced she would be opening Junie Bee Nails, a nail salon in Harlem that will feature retro styles and...
Categories: Music Industry

Sammi Sanchez Samples Panamanian Reggae Legend El General in 'Pum Pum' Premiere With Reykon: Watch

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:00am
Mexican pop star Sammi Sanchez recruits Colombian reggaetonero Reykon in the official premiere of "Pum Pum," a dance floor anthem...
Categories: Music Industry

Senses Fail's Buddy Nielsen Fights to Survive a Chaotic Present & His Band's Toxic Past

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:00am
If you’ve been following Senses Fail over the course of its seven full length albums, you don’t need reminding what frontman James...
Categories: Music Industry

Fujifilm X-H1: What you need to know

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 9:00am

Introduction

The Fujifilm X-H1 arrived in the last few hours of February 14th, at least out here on the West Coast in the US, making it a Valentine's gift that came in just under the wire for the Fujifilm faithful. It's deserving of a big red bow with a range-topping APS-C 24MP X-Trans sensor, sitting above the X-T2. It builds on many of the X-T2's features by adding in-body image stabilization, a touchscreen and enhanced video options. Here's a detailed look at everything that's new and improved.

Image Quality

Given the camera's pedigree and the initial results we've seen, the X-H1 looks highly capable of great image quality. The sensor, shared with the X-T2, has already shown itself to have performance comparable with the best of its APS-C peers, both in terms of dynamic range and noise performance at high ISO settings.

Throw in Fujifilm's excellent film simulation modes (plus a bonus new one!), and you've got a mighty tempting camera for stills shooters. However, the camera's unique X-Trans color filter pattern is worth taking into account – your results will vary greatly depending on your Raw conversion software.

Further enticing stills photographers is the X-H1's healthy 14 fps burst rate with electronic shutter and 8 fps with mechanical shutter (which can be boosted to 11 with an optional grip). Buffer depth looks reasonably good too, allowing for 40 JPEG shots or 23 uncompressed Raws (27 compressed). Fujifilm also promises autofocus improvement, with better performance in low light and at smaller apertures. All excellent news.

Image Stabilization

Despite Fujifilm previously suggesting that it couldn't be done, the X-H1 offers in-body stabilization rated up to 5 stops. Unusually, Fujifilm says the system works better with non-IS lenses because they project a larger image circle and tend to be neither too long nor too wide, both of which are harder to stabilize. With such a lens, up to 5.5 stops of stabilization can be achieved.

Viewfinder and rear LCD

Comparing to the X-T2, the X-H1 gets a higher resolution viewfinder: a 3.69 million dot OLED panel with 0.75x magnification to the X-T2's 2.36 million dots and 0.77x magnification. Like the X-T2, the X-H1 provides a 3" 1.04 million dot rear LCD that tilts upwards and downwards, but of course, adds touch sensitivity where the X-T2 has none.

The X-H1, like the X-T2, also comes with a 'Boost' mode that increases the viewfinder refresh rate from 60Hz to 100Hz for a smoother look.

Touchscreen

The X-H1's touchscreen is all-around nice to have, allowing you to place a focus point with a tap, tap and acquire focus, or acquire focus and shoot all with one touch. It's also usable as a touchpad with the camera to your eye. That said, we have a word of caution – in our initial use of the touchscreen both setting focus points and touchpad operation, the screen has felt noticeably laggy.

The LCD also provides touch control of the camera's Q.Menu, and in playback mode offers quick access to 100% image viewing, along with gesture-controlled swiping and scrolling. As in the X-E3, a swipe across the shooting screen acts as a Fn button shortcut.

Video specs

The latest generation of flagship mirrorless cameras take video very seriously, and Fujifilm has definitely gotten the memo. The X-H1 offers DCI 4K in 23.98p and 24p, as well as UHD 4K in 23.98/24/25/29.97p. Where the X-T2 requires an external recorder to use flat Log capture, the X-H1 allows for internal F-Log recording. The camera offers bitrates of up to 200 Mbps and 24-bit audio (vs 16-bit on the X-T2).

Plenty of other goodies are on offer for videographers, like a new Eterna/Cinema film simulation mode, slow motion 1080p capture, and the ability to record full HD internally while outputting 4K over HDMI. Autofocus in movie mode is still a bit of a question mark, but rest assured we'll be putting it to the test in short order.

Video interface and usability

In a further nod to the X-H1's cinematic leanings, Fujifilm's included specific shutter speed options in video mode that directly correspond to 90, 180 and 360 degree shutter angles on more dedicated video cameras. In other words, instead of being stuck with shutter speeds of 1/25 sec, 1/50 sec or 1/100 sec for shooting 24p video, you can choose 1/24 sec, 1/48 sec, 1/96 sec, and so on.

Touchscreen benefits aren't limited to stills applications either – Fujifilm put a lot of thought into adding touch control for video shooters. Movie Silent Control disables the aperture ring, shutter speed dial and ISO dial, shifting those settings to touch control. This makes it easy to leave settings dialed in for stills, and then jump quickly to video shooting with separate settings. It's a great feature to have if you're, say, shooting stills and video at the same time at a wedding reception, but our initial impression is that the interface itself feels a bit fiddly.

It's worth noting that the newly announced X-mount versions of Fujifilm's MK cinema lenses will work beautifully on the X-H1, as you can see your aperture as T-stops rather than F-stops.

Unfortunately, despite all the strides Fujfilm's made for video users, there's a notable lack of exposure aids of any kind – you don't even get zebra warnings, much less waveforms.

Who's it for?

It's not totally clear-cut who this camera is for. High-end stills shooters who want an X-T2 with stabilization may feel that their ship has finally arrived. But with so much emphasis on video features, is this a camera that's better suited for photographers who need to shoot video along with their stills?

We think it's a camera for both parties. Like the Sony a6500, it acts as a step-up model even if you aren't planning on shooting video (a step-up model that happens to be VERY capable in the video department). So if you're a stills shooter who buys one, do us a favor and give the movie mode a try – it looks pretty darn good so far.

Categories: Equipment

Lorde Hints at Performing Unreleased Music on Upcoming Tour

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 8:54am
Pop superstar Lorde took to her Instagram in the early hours on Friday (Feb. 16) to update her fans on her Melodrama Tour, which picks up again...
Categories: Music Industry

Remy Ma Celebrates 'Melanin Magic' with Chris Brown in Striking, High-Fashion Video

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 8:46am
There’s plenty of love, female unity and black girl magic in Remy Ma’s latest video, “Melanin Magic (Pretty Brown)” with...
Categories: Music Industry

Fantasia Cancels Upcoming Shows Due to Knee Injury

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 8:25am
On Thursday (Feb. 16) Fantasia’s team announced that she would be canceling two of her upcoming shows: Feb. 17th  in Atlantic City,...
Categories: Music Industry

Nerdist Parodies 'Black Panther' & Jaden Smith's 'Icon' Video in Single Shot

Billboard.com - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 8:05am
Black Panther opening weekend has finally arrived and the hype is real. Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa character has already...
Categories: Music Industry

Hands-on with Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 / TZ200

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 8:00am

Hands-on with Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 (TZ200)

The Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 is a powerful, pocketable travel zoom compact camera, with an impressively long lens. We've had our hands on one – click through for a closer look.

20MP 1"-type sensor

The ZS200 is built around the same 1" 20MP BSI-CMOS sensor as its predecessor the ZS100, which immediately makes it a cut above traditional superzooms that sacrificed (among other thing) sensor size for lens reach.

15X optical zoom lens

The ZS200 scores over its predecessor in a few ways, but the most obvious upgrade is to the lens. While the ZS100's zoom range of 25-250mm was pretty good, the ZS200 turns things up to 11, spanning a much wider range, of 24-360mm (equiv).

Comprising 13 elements in six groups, this complex lens contains three extra low-dispersion elements and five aspherical, plus one that's both extra low-disperson and aspherical. That's pretty impressive for such a small camera.

Also updated compared to the ZS100 is minimum focus, which has been reduced to 3cm from 5cm (at 24mm equiv). Distortion at such a close distance (and at such a wide focal length) will be pretty wild, but for flowers, bugs and other organic subjects, it should be fine.

15X optical zoom lens

The extra zoom range doesn't come free though, and at F3.3-6.4, the ZS200's lens is slightly slower across its focal length span than its predecessor (shown above, on the left). The longer lens contributes to a slightly greater bodyweight, too. The ZS200 weighs 340g with a card and battery installed, compared to 310g for the ZS100.

This side-by-side shot shows off our ZS200's 'gunmetal' finish. Not quite gray, not quite silver, we think it looks rather nice. Good old black will still be an option when the camera ships next month.

4K video

The ZS200 offers 4K video recording at 30p and 24p. Familiar 4K Photo features like Post Focus are available, in addition to a couple of new modes which were also introduced into the DC-GX9.

Auto Marking analyzes a 4K video clip and automatically marks points at which it detects action, and Sequence Composition (illustrated above in a Panasonic-supplied example shot with the DC-GX9) is a 4K Photo feature that allows you to composite multiple frames of a moving subject in front of a static background into a single 4K-resolution still image.

2.3 million-dot EVF

Here at DPReview we love a good EVF, especially in pocketable travel cameras, where it can really make a difference to handling in bright light. The good news is that the ZS200's EVF is improved quite a bit over its predecessor. Resolution has been upped to 2.3 million dots, and magnification has been increased from 0.45X to 0.53X (equiv).

The bad news is that the viewfinder is still field-sequential, so the rainbow effect is alive and well, and shooting with a 0.53X magnification finder is still a bit like watching a television from the end of a hallway. As such, while the ZS200's EVF is much nicer than its predecessor's, it's not a match for the OLED finders in some competitors, such as Sony's RX100-series.

1.24 million-dot touchscreen

Keeping the ZS200's electronic viewfinder company is a fixed 3" rear LCD, which boasts 1.24 million dots and touch-sensitivity. As such, placing your desired AF point is as easy as simply tapping the screen.

We're also pleased to see that Panasonic has included its 'Touch Pad AF' feature to the ZS200. In essence, this is exactly what it sounds like – with your eye to the viewfinder, the ZS200's rear LCD can be used as a touch-pad to position the AF point. Pretty neat. And as you can see, despite the touchscreen, the ZS200 still has enough direct-access buttons to satisfy someone used to more traditional user interfaces (or someone wearing gloves).

Depth-from-Defocus (DFD) Autofocus

The ZS200 features a version of Panasonic's Depth-from-Defocus autofocus technology. In very simple terms, DFD uses known blur characteristics of Panasonic lenses to work out whether a subject is front or back focused, before driving the focusing group to achieve focus. This reduces the characteristic focus 'hunting' of a typical contrast-detection AF system, by increasing the processor's confidence that it's moving things in the right direction.

While we haven't had the chance to properly test the ZS200 (or use it much outside of a conference room and our upper floor balcony), AF speed is impressive at all focal lengths, albeit with some very slight 'wobble' when focus is acquired at long telephoto settings. In theory, the ZS200 should be capable of continuous autofocus at up to 6 fps – something we're keen to try out when we receive a final production camera.

Increased battery life and Bluetooth Low Energy

Built-in Wi-Fi is to be expected these days, but we're pleased to see that Panasonic has also included low-energy Bluetooth (BLE) in the ZS200. This allows for 'aways on' functionality, enabling easy remote trigger functionality from a smartphone without a huge hit in battery life.

Battery life is actually something of a strength of the ZS200. Usually when features get added to a camera, battery life goes down. Not so with the ZS200. Panasonic tells us that improvements have been made to power management, which have paid off in a CIPA rating of 350 shots (compared to 300 from the ZS200) when the LCD is used, and ~250 when shooting with the EVF.

Putting the camera into 'Eco' mode should ensure ~300 shots between charges, regardless of shooting style.

What do you think?

So what do you make of the Panasonic Lumix ZS200? Did one of the best travel zoom compacts just get better, or are you ambivalent about the extra zoom reach and slower lens? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Equipment

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