Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary

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Sebastaio Salgado: “The Salt of the Earth”

“The Salt of the Earth” is a new documentary film about Sebastaio Salgado.

If you have been following this blog, you may recall that I wrote very enthusiastically about Sebastaio Salgado, the brilliant Brazilian/French photographer whose black-and-white images of lands, nature, and peoples around the world have created a remarkably moving vision of humanity and Earth and all of the Earth’s creatures. Salgado’s most recent book, Genesis, is a magnificent record of his travels to some of the most remote lands, documenting the beauty of the planet.

The New York Times “Lens Blog” is featuring an interview with Salgado that makes for great reading. We get Salgado’s reflections on how he got into photography, his views about photography and art, the importance of photography, and a host of other insights.

The interview comes on the occasion of the imminent release in theaters of “The Salt of the Earth,” a documentary film on Salgado’s life and work, coproduced by the German director Wim Wenders and Mr. Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. Here is a trailer for the film.

“Salt of the Earth” is being released by Sony. There are galleries and much more here.

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Hong Son Doong (reposted)

(Link to video corrected.)  I have in the past posted links to videos, particularly videos featuring exceptional outdoor and nature photography. It has been a while since any posts. I recently came across this extraordinary video shot largely with drones, in HD resolution, in what is sometimes considered the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. (Make sure HD is on and watch fullscreen.)

This video was shot by Ryan Deboodt (click for Ryan’s website), who has apparently been filming in this area for a while. The photography and cinematography is excellent. The images of the cave are mind-boggling, but the views of all the flora are just beautiful. I was particularly impressed by the views which show (tiny) people exploring the cave, which helps to define the awesome scale of the place. With the added music, the video (about 6 min) is very relaxing.

Here is a terrific website about the Hong Son Doong cave with a wealth of information and information. Ryan Deboodt’s website features extraordinary still photography from the cave.

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Hong Son Doong

I have in the past posted links to videos, particularly videos featuring exceptional outdoor and nature photography. It has been a while since any posts. I recently came across this extraordinary video shot largely with drones, in HD resolution, in what is sometimes considered the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. (Make sure HD is on and watch fullscreen.)

This video was shot by Ryan Deboodt (click for Ryan’s website), who has apparently been filming in this area for a while. The photography and cinematography is excellent. The images of the cave are mind-boggling, but the views of all the flora are just beautiful. I was particularly impressed by the views which show (tiny) people exploring the cave, which helps to define the awesome scale of the place. With the added music, the video (about 6 min) is very relaxing.

Here is a terrific website about the Hong Son Doong cave with a wealth of information and information. Ryan Deboodt’s website features extraordinary still photography from the cave.

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Expedition Arguk

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This marvelous video – “The World Beyond the World” – was produced by Paxson Woelber from the 2013 Arguk Expedition, a 300 mile backpacking trip through the Alaskan wilderness.  “Arguk” means to “walk against the wind” in Alaskan Inupiat. Woelber was a member of the expedition team that travelled 300 miles through Alaskan wilderness without roads, trails, towns or campgrounds.

The video was produced by Woelber entirely from digital still images assembled in Photoshop. Woelber’s video production technique is fantastic. (Most of the mages are available free and without restriction at the Expedition Arguk site – One of the purposes of the expedition. Here is their photo gallery – It includes much fabulous landscape photography.) Most images for the video were shot in Gates of the Arctic national park.

Woelber is a prolific producer. Visit his website. Woelber uses a painstaking technique to construct the video. Image layers are separated in Photoshop and then assembled into the video in Adobe After Effects. The technique is known as “motion graphics.”

The video includes a narrative audio from Robert Marshall’s “Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Brooks Range” (1929). According to this Wikipedia entry, Marshall was the father of the wilderness preservation movement and partly responsible for the US passage of the Wilderness Act.

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Update: Vivian Maier, Street Photographer

That is a trailer for the new documentary film, “Finding Vivian Maier.” A couple of years ago, I was visiting Santa Fe when I walked into a gallery off the square and discovered an exhibition of prints by Vivian Maier. I wrote a blog post about it here. At the time, Vivian Maier was only just beginning to be a phenomenon in the photography world; the exhibit I saw in Santa Fe was one of the earliest presentations of her work. In the two years since, interest in Vivian Maier has grown exponentially. More shows are being devoted to showing prints of her work, and her work is getting the critical attention it deserves.

From the Vivian Maier website:

An American of French and Austro-Hungarian extraction, Vivian bounced between Europe and the United States before coming back to New York City in 1951. Having picked up photography just two years earlier, she would comb the streets of the Big Apple refining her artistic craft. By 1956 Vivian left the East Coast for Chicago, where she’d spend most of the rest of her life working as a caregiver. In her leisure Vivian would shoot photos that she zealously hid from the eyes of others. Taking snapshots into the late 1990′s, Maier would leave behind a body of work comprising over 100,000 negatives. Additionally Vivian’s passion for documenting extended to a series of homemade documentary films and audio recordings.

Produced and directed by John Maloof, who has been responsible for getting Maier’s work to the attention of the photo world, the new film, “Finding Vivian Maier”,  is now making the rounds of art house cinemas around the country, distributed by IFC Films. Here is the film website.

There are so many fascinating questions about Vivian Maier’s life and photography. Can work like Maier’s be appreciated or enjoyed apart from the story of her life? Well, yes, but I think so much is lost if we try and do that. Maier’s life and photography are of a whole, and her art encompasses both.

What I find most interesting – even more than the astounding quality and perceptiveness in Maier’s work – is that most of the over 100,000 images she made were never printed during her life. Did she intend for her photography to be seen? Did she expect that it would be? Was she only shooting images for herself? Her street photography developed her art and skill to such a high degree, almost redefining the nature of street photography. Is it art? Can a photographic image be art if it is not exhibited? For what purpose did Maier capture so many incredible scenes of urban life?

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Fog of San Francisco

[vimeo 69445362 w=600]

This beautiful time-lapse video, titled “Adrift“, is by Simon Christen. Christen subtitles it “A love letter to the for of the San Francisco Bay area.”  I used to live in San Jose, in the South Bay, for a number of years. I easily fell in love with San Francisco and the whole Bay Area. Frequently I made the drive back and forth to San Francisco and enjoyed the fog that would flow like a river in the sky over the peninsula hills. The fogs in San Francisco itself were splendid. And this video truly does justice to the Bay Area and its fogs.

I found this video at The Atlantic, here, “Fog, More Beautiful Than You Have Ever Seen It Before.” It was posted on Vimeo where the video has received three-quarter million views in just a week. Simon Christen writes:

“Adrift” is a love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area. I chased it for over two years to capture the magical interaction between the soft mist, the ridges of the California coast and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. This is where “Adrift” was born.

The weather conditions have to be just right for the fog to glide over the hills and under the bridge. I developed a system for trying to guess when to make the drive out to shoot, which involved checking the weather forecast, satellite images and webcams multiple times a day. For about 2 years, if the weather looked promising, I would set my alarm to 5am, recheck the webcams, and then set off on the 45-minute drive to the Marin Headlands.

I spent many mornings hiking in the dark to only find that the fog was too high, too low, or already gone by the time I got there. Luckily, once in a while the conditions would be perfect and I was able to capture something really special. Adrift is a collection of my favorite shots from these excursions into the ridges of the Marin Headlands.

I hope with my short film I am able to convey the feeling of happiness I felt while I experienced those stunning scenes.

Simon Christen’s website is here, where you will find more timelapse video work as well as stunning travel, landscape, and abstract still photography.

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