Category Archives: Photography

Replay: Capturing two transmutations of light

Photography is, above all else, about light, about capturing photons through either photochemical response [film photography] or photoelectronic excitation [digital]. Film photographers worked with a range of film, both positive and negative, black and white, and color. And color films harbored their peculiar ways of displaying the light they had captured, with, for instance, Kodak’s Ektachrome transparency film yielded images with the color balance weighted toward cooler greens and, as Paul Simon rhapsodized, Kodachrome produced “those nice bright colors”:

The song became something of a personal anthem, given that we also shot Nikons and Kodachrome and shared the experience of in-the-moment joy that can come with the single-minded openness to the unexpected a camera can bring.

Kodachrome died in 2009, Ektachrome in 2013. But as film died, digital thrived, first in the form of very expensive low-resolution still cameras, evolving into cheaper, higher resolution still cameras, them to movie cameras, and finally to today’s cell phones capturing both still and moving images.

And forget the limitations of film when it comes to playing with colors; digital lifts all constraints, adding the capability for seamless alternation and distortions, of which cats seem to be the principal subjects.

The camera’s lens plays a critical role in image capture, with macro lenses capturing the very close and telephoto lenses capturing the very distant. The width of a lens opening also changes the nature of the image, with very narrow apertures creating images with great depth of field, in which images both near and far appear in sharp focus; conversely, wide apertures yield images with a sharp center of focus and in which both near and far are blurred.

Another lens polarity is between the extreme telephoto and the fisheye. Extreme telephoto lenses resemble inverted cannon barrels, while the most extreme fisheye would be nearly hemispherical in profile. Telephoto lenses result in sharp but very narrow focus, while fisheye lenses distort [now, thanks to digital,  “correctable” by software].

For a good example of fisheye distortion, see the image at the top of our blog, a self portrait as seen in our reflection in a fisheye safety mirror at the entrance to a narrow passageway at the La Note cafe in downtown Berkeley.

So with that by way of preface, a reprise of a 27 November 2012 post containing one [guess] of our favorite images and a link to another [and click on all to enlarge ’em]:

Seen through glass, more or less darkly

A pair of glass-themed images from an August, 2004, road trip with younger daughter Samantha to the woolly wilds of Northern California.

First, an image of the view outside the former home of an old friend in Petrolia, as seen through a glass sphere on the window sill:

1 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 43 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.5

1 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 43 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.5

Next, a glimpse of the play of light through the grid of prismatic circular elements of the French-made sodium glass Fresnel lens — made with a long-lost secret formula — of the landmark Point Arena lighthouse, located on a stunning stretch of coastline:

4 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 15 mm, 1/125 sec, f4

4 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 15 mm, 1/125 sec, f4

MexicoWatch: Protest, vanishings, cops, torture

We begin with a protest, via teleSUR:

On Women’s Day, Mothers of Missing Mexican Students Head March

  • The mothers said the government’s recent removal of the attorney general will not end their efforts to find their loved ones.

The mothers of Ayotzinapa’s 43 missing students headed an International Women’s Day march Sunday in Mexico City.

The march was proceeded by an event late Saturday, titled “Women and Ayotzinapa”, where the mothers of the disappeared students spoke about their experiences and vowed to continue their search.

“We want to make it very clear to the federal government that we are not afraid. That is why we ask (people) to continue uniting and organizing, because they (the government) know where our sons and daughters are, and if they have not found them it’s because they have not wanted to,” said Carmen Cruz, the mother of one of the missing students.

And the first disappearances story, via Mexico News Daily:

Four mine employees believed kidnapped

  • They were returning home after a night shift at the Los Filos mine

State authorities said yesterday they are investigating the “possible deprivation of the liberty” of mineworkers in the municipality of Eduardo Neri. Juan Carlos Merino González, Juan Carlos Peña and Mauro Galicia were identified as missing. As of yesterday it wasn’t known who the fourth person was.

Located in the Guerrero Gold Belt, Los Filos is Mexico’s largest gold mine. The gold belt is not far from the city of Iguala, where 46 students were massacred in a joint operation involving municipal police and a criminal gang last September.

At least 10 people were kidnapped in nearby Cocula last month, one of whom was connected with the Media Luna mine project, owned by another Canadian mining firm, Torex Gold Resources Inc.

Al Jazeera America covers more vanishings:

Terror in Coahuila: Up to 300 disappeared in Mexico’s forgotten massacre

  • 43 missing students sparked outrage around the world, but earlier atrocity in northern Mexico went virtually ignored

In March and April of 2011, the Zetas kept the northern municipalities of Allende, Piedras Negras, Nava, Zaragoza and Morelos — all close to the U.S. border — under constant attack. They fired their arms, set fire to several businesses and disappeared at least 300 people, according to testimony from residents. Gang members operated without a trace of military or civic intervention.

The majority of these cases happened in Allende, so that time referred to as the Allende Massacre.

Local media, fearing reprisals, did not report the violence until years later. Armando Castilla, the publisher of the newspaper Vanguardia de Coahuila, says his publication was the first to report the case, in December 2013. In April of 2014, Allende’s Mayor Luis Reynaldo Tapia Valadez told the national outlet La Jornada, “There are approximately 300 [victims], but it’s not out of the question that there are a few more.”

It wasn’t until January 2014 that the Coahuila government launched a formal investigation into the case. In December the state’s attorney general, Homero Ramos Gloria, said the investigation found evidence of only 28 disappearances, not 300. The state says it does not know the status of another 1,808 missing people.

From Mexico News Daily, corruption:

14 police arrested; gunmen attack mayor

  • Federal officers suspects in kidnapping as violence continues in Matamoros

Citizens of Matamoros have had good reason to doubt the effectiveness of security efforts in their city following a rash of violence in recent weeks.

Further reasons to do so came with the arrest of 14 Federal Police officers on kidnapping charges and an armed attack on the mayor on Saturday.

The federal Attorney General confirmed the detention of the officers after a local businessman was freed by army and navy forces. He had been held for at least two days while his captors sought a ransom payment of US $2 million.

And from teleSUR, condemnation:

UN: Torture by Mexican State is Widespread

  • A report by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture claims that abuse and torture are a regular occurrence in Mexico.

A report by the U.N. Human Rights Council, set to be released on Monday, states that torture by the Mexican state has become a regular occurrence.

The 22-page report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez was leaked to Mexican weekly magazine, Proceso. The report is the product of an investigation conducted by Mendez in Mexico in April and May of last year.

“Torture and abuse are widespread in Mexico,” states Mendez’ report.

Proceso states that the U.N. report includes allegations of physical violence, electric shock, suffocation, sexual assault, and psychological abuse. Mendez reveals that multiple elements of the state are guilty of utilizing torture, from local police, to state and federal police, as well as the armed forces.

And to close, our Ayotzinapa protest image of the day, via Damjd Designz:

Mexico has a skeleton in the closet

MexicoWatch: A protest, a political attack, raids

A very short edition today, so we’ll got straight to it with a video report from teleSUR English:

Parents and teachers march for justice in Ayotzinapa case

Program notes:

Five months after the forcible disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, family members and teachers of the Guerrero State Coordinator of Education Workers (CETEG) held marches throughout the state of Guerrero to demand that the 43 be brought back alive. They also demanded justice for the alleged murder of retired teacher Claudio Castro and the rape of five CETEG teachers by the federal police in last week’s protest. Moreover, the teachers declared a 24-hour strike closing 200 schools throughout the state. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico for teleSUR

Next, when politicians attack, via teleSUR:

UK Deputy Prime Minister Slams Mexico During Peña Nieto Visit

  • “We should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico … since 2006,” Clegg wrote in a joint article with Richard Branson.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg slammed the War on Drugs Wednesday, specifically berating Mexico’s effort as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is in the country on a state visit.

Clegg’s comments came from an opinion article on the War on Drugs in the Guardian, which was co-written by British billionaire Richard Branson, in which they label it “an abject failure.”

“Since the (drug) ‘war’ was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn [US$1.5 trillion] trying to eradicate drugs from our societies,” they denounced, adding that, “Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organized crime.”

And from photographer Raul Barrera, an image from an Ayotzinapa protest at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, right in ensl’s own back yard, with a placard declaring that being a student isn’t a crime:

BLOG Ayotz Oakland

Finally, raids on The Beast, from Latin Correspondent:

Mexico raided migrant train 153 times over last year

Mexican authorities staged 153 raids over the last year on a train known as “La Bestia” that once rolled toward the U.S. border crowded with Central American migrants.

Following a big surge in child migrants reaching the U.S. border last year, Mexico’s government cracked down on routes commonly used by migrants to travel from Guatemala to the U.S. border.

The head of the National Immigration Institute said Tuesday that the 153 train raids were part of 758 immigration inspections over the last year. Such raids also target buses, trucks and other means of smuggling migrants.

And now for something completely different

Really different, as in the Costa Rican red-eyed tree frog, via photographer Lindsay Fendt of the Tico Times.

And hang in there, kid:


And now for something completely different

Before there was Photoshop, there were darkrooms, the kind of places esnl spent much time developing and printing black and white photographs for the newspapers he worked for during his five decades in the newspaper business.

And now, from via Petapixel, is a look at the light-and-chemical processes of film photography replicated for digital images by Photoshop:

Before there was Photoshop | film photography | Photoshop 25th anniversary

We’ll leave the program notes to PetaPixel:

These Are the Darkroom Techniques Photoshop’s Tools Are Based On

As a tribute to Photoshop for its recent 25th birthday, Lynda created this “before there was Photoshop” video that shows the darkroom tools and techniques that were used by film photographers before Photoshop and digital photography arrived on the scene.

Photographer Konrad Eek works on a print by dodging, burning, adding gradients, using masks, feathering, and more. If you’ve never made a print in a darkroom before, this video could be quite illuminating.

MexicoWatch: A very, very brief edition today

We begin with a video report from teleSUR English:

Mexican government to charge police with forced disappearances

Program notes:

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto says charges will be brought against five police officers from Iguala, Guerrero, acting in conjunction with organized crime, for the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students. The news comes after the United Nations Commission on Forced Disappearances criticized Mexico last week for widespread disappearances throughout the country and impunity for the crime. The Commission also noted that here is no reliable registry of the disappearances. The Mexican government rejected the report but said it will follow some of the recommendations made by the UN Commission.

Selfies for the missing, via BBC News:

Selfies for the missing in Mexico

In the latest twist in a protracted social media movement, thousands in Mexico have used Ash Wednesday to seek justice for the 43 students who went missing in September last year.

It’s the case that has polarised Mexico: the disappearance and alleged mass murder of 43 male students from Ayotzinapa teacher training college in southern Mexico in September. Students from the college were on their way to protest over school hiring practices when they were stopped by police who shot at their buses. Three were killed and 43 others have not been heard from since. Mexico’s attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam says the missing have been killed by a gang and their bodies burnt at a rubbish dump – an explanation rejected by families of these students and activists, who believe the military played a role in these events and have since taken up the students cause online and on the streets of Mexico.

Now the hashtag #43NoSonCeniza (“43 Are Not Ashes”) has begun to pick up steam on Mexican social media. It aims to counter the government line about what happened to 43 male students. Activists are asking people to paint their forehead with the number ‘43′, upload the pictures online and walk the streets to show their protest. The idea is to play on the traditional Ash Wednesday practice, where Christians mark the beginning of Lent by marking their foreheads with ashes, as a symbol of death and sorrow for sin.

Here’s one of the images, via Compa Francisco Gtz:

BLOG Ayotz

And from California, and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, recognition:

Pomona recognized for action taken in support of missing Mexican students

The adoption of a Pomona City Council resolution calling for an international investigation into the disappearance of 43 Mexican college students was an important action that other governments are replicating, a Mexican priest said Wednesday.

Rev. Alejandro Solalinde made the announcement in front of Pomona City Hall Wednesday morning surrounded by members of the Pomona City Council, Pomona Unified school board, area high school and college students as well as a number of local activists. He was referring to the resolution adopted by the City Council in December.

“It’s important that Pomona had the courage to be the first to have such a resolution,” Solalinde said. “Pomona has all of our recognition.”

Solalinde has been recognized for his human rights activism and work with Central American immigrants in Mexico. He has also become one of the leading voices in Mexico calling for justice in the disappearance of 43 students from the rural Ayotzinapa Normal School in the town of Tixtla in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.

EbolaWatch: Numbers, images, fraud, medicine

We begin with a video from the United Nations with a photographer dispatched to document the outbreak:

UN through the lens: Photographing Ebola – the ‘invisible enemy’

Program notes:

United Nations – The enemy was invisible—that’s how United Nations photographer Martine Perret described Ebola, the deadly virus which has killed nearly 9,000 people in West Africa.

Last December, she joined the UN’s first health mission, UNMEER, to document the effects of the outbreak on millions of people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as the international response to fight it.

In the following audio slide show, she shares her experience.

Next, the latest numbers, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

BLOG Ebola

From Associated Press, a call:

Leaders to UN: We need better crisis response after Ebola

A trio of world leaders says the devastating Ebola outbreak exposed the “weakness” of international crisis response and is seeking a solution.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Ghanaian President John Mahama have asked the U.N. secretary-general to create a high-level panel and commission a report on how the world can be faster and more coordinated in the face of disaster.

The letter, handed over to Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, notes that Ebola cases have been dropping in all three of the worst-hit countries but says, “We cannot be complacent.”

The Washington Post covers a complication:

The search for an Ebola cure is gearing up — but there may be too few patients

The race to find a cure for Ebola is heating up, with scientists launching experiments in West Africa that are among the most ambitious ever aimed at taming the devastating disease.

But they are encountering an unexpected challenge: finding enough Ebola patients as the outbreak recedes.

In Liberia, researchers had to scrap a clinical drug trial at the end of January because of a lack of Ebola patients. Another trial there, using donations of blood plasma, has struggled to enroll enough participants. Its organizers may be forced to move it to Sierra Leone.

From Science, another complication:

‘Positive’ results for Ebola drug upsets plans for trials

Even the researchers whose trial of a potential drug for Ebola made headlines last week worked hard to downplay the glimmer of efficacy it showed. “It is a weak signal in a nonrandomized trial,” Yves Levy, director of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris told Science about the data, which INSERM has not released. Weak or not, the report in The New York Times that favipiravir, a Japanese flu drug, had halved mortality in one group of Ebola patients in Guinea was one more piece of good news that is complicating prospects for trials of other Ebola drugs.

The Guinean government has already announced it wants to make favipiravir available to more people, and if the results hold up to greater scrutiny, they could force a change in the design of other clinical trials going forward. Meanwhile, the decline in new cases has investigators revamping or even canceling trials at a time when manufacturers finally have enough supplies to test some of the most promising experimental drugs. The toll of the outbreak ticked up last week, as Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—the three most affected countries—counted 124 confirmed cases, up from 99 cases the week before. As the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Bruce Aylward said at a press conference on 5 February: “The virus has told us this week, loud and clear, ‘I am not going to go away the way you’re expecting me to.’ “ Yet the numbers represent a sharp drop from the height of the epidemic in September when there were more than 700 cases reported in a single week in West Africa.

CCTV America covers deserved recognition:

Cuban doctors and nurses under consideration for Nobel Peace Prize

Program notes:

In Cuba, the doctors and nurses who went to West Africa to combat the Ebola outbreak are being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reported this story from Havana.

From AllAfrica, another contribution:

West Africa: China Trains Over 10,000 Ebola Medical Staff for West Africa

Chinese medical experts dispatched to West Africa have trained 10,202 local staff to treat Ebola patients, the Health News, a newspaper affiliated with the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), reported Friday.

China has sent 64 Ebola specialists to West Africa since Nov. 9, 2014. They have trained 5,093 doctors, nurses and community health workers for Sierra Leone; 1,823 for Liberia; 1,481 for the Republic of Guinea; and 1,805 for six other countries in the region including Senegal.

The mission was China’s first overseas health training program, allowing China to passed on knowledge and experience gained from dealing with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the Health News.

And from the Associated Press, contributors returning home:

US withdrawing most troops fighting Ebola in West Africa

The United States is preparing to withdraw nearly all of its troops fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House said Tuesday, as the global health crisis recedes amid a sharp decline in Ebola cases.

Of the 2,800 troops the U.S. deployed, just 100 will remain in West Africa after April 30, officials said. About 1,500 of those troops have already returned home. Those staying in West Africa will work with Liberia’s military, regional partners and U.S. civilians to continue fighting Ebola.

“Just 10 months since the first U.S. government personnel deployed, we have delivered extraordinary results,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, adding that Ebola cases were down 80 percent and that in hard-hit Liberia, new cases have dwindled to just one or two per day.

On to the hot zone, starting in Guinea with the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Mistrust and machetes thwart efforts to contain Ebola in Guinea

When Red Cross pickups crawl through the streets of the Guinean town of Lola in search of Ebola victims, crowds of women gather to shoo the medical workers away, young boys throw stones and angry men reach for their machetes.

In the country where West Africa’s Ebola outbreak began, hostility towards aid workers – fuelled by ever more far-fetched rumours – is undermining efforts to contain the deadly virus.

“People tell us if we don’t leave they’ll beat us up, or smash up the car,” said Paquile Zoglelemou, head of the Red Cross in Lola, a town set in thick, tropical jungle in the deep southeast of Guinea near the Liberian border.

Concerns about violence directed at aid teams comes as the number of new cases of Ebola rose at the start of February in all three of West Africa’s worst-hit countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – ending previously encouraging declines.

Thence on to Liberia with StarAfrica, and volunteers aplenty:

Liberians rush for Ebola Vaccine

Reports say Liberians are queuing daily to get vaccinated with an estimated 456 persons vaccinated since the trial began. According Co-investigator Dr. Stephen Kennedy, the figure is by far greater than anticipated at this stage of the trial.

He said the trial which is currently taking place at the state-run Redemption Hospital in the western Monrovia suburb of the Borough of Kru Town is recording more than the anticipated one participant per day.

The paper also quotes Co-Investigator Kennedy as disclosing that last week 108 persons were vaccinated, while another batch of 348 had booked tickets to be vaccinated.

FrontPageAfrica raises an ethical question:

Volunteer for Hire? US$40 for Ebola Vaccine Trials in Liberia

The current Ebola vaccines being tested in Liberia continues to raise contention among many Liberians. The latest news about the process of getting the vaccines is that Liberians who volunteer to take the trial are being paid to do so. Due to this information about the money attached to the administration of the trial vaccines, many people from poor communities have turned out to take it with the hope that they might get some compensation for their service.

In the small community of Zimbabwe and Popo Beach in New Kru Town, many young people without a job have volunteered to take the vaccine because of the inducement it offers. Though some say that they’re taking the vaccine based on a strong conviction to join the Ebola response, the community’s perception is fixed already.

“The government has to be in the interest of the citizens, they just can’t take a vaccine and bring it here for trial without informing the people on what it is about,” said Prince Kamara, a resident of the Popo Beach area who seems convinced that the trial vaccine was not made for humans and the information dissemination surrounding it was poor. “Is the government aware of the people coming to kill us Liberians? We are not animals; the people should test this vaccine where they made it.”

Other residents of the New Kru Town area where the vaccines are being tried among volunteers think that no one should be paid to take a vaccine if the administrators are sure that it poses no risk to those who take them.

After the jump, a video survivor account, back to school time, border communities on alert, and aid in the microcosm, on to Sierra Leone and prophylactic resistance, allegations of major Ebola payroll fraud, the ghostwriters in the sty, financial answers promised, a reminder that justice delayed is justice denied, even in the time of Ebola, and major questions over victim counts. . . Continue reading