Friday, October 01, 2004
Posted 11:58 AM
Another Giant is Gone: Richard Avedon Dead at 81
Richard Avedon, known for his stark, probing black and white portrait photography, has died at age 81.
Here's an excerpt from an essay he wrote entitled Borrowed Dogs:
It was my father who taught me the physics of photography. When I was a boy he explained to me the power of light in the making of a photograph. He held a magnifying glass between the sun and a leaf and set the leaf on fire. The next day, as an experiment, I taped a negative of my sister onto my skin and spent the day at Atlantic Beach.
That night, when I peeled the negative off, there was my sister, sunburned onto my shoulder. I knew from the beginning that being a photographer and playing with light means playing with fire. Neither the photographer nor the subject gets out of it unsinged.
Monday, September 27, 2004
Posted 9:44 AM
Raw Forever: Adobe Announces Digital Negative Format
Adobe today announced the Digital Negative, or DNG, file format -- a standard method of storing the raw image data that a growing number of mid-range and high-end digital cameras support.
Along with the announcement comes a free utility, DNG Converter, for converting current raw-format files into DNG format.
If you shoot in JPEG format and use iPhoto, this announcement isn't likely to inspire you to hoist a brewsky in Adobe's direction. However, if you're an advanced amateur or professional who wants the extra control that raw format provides, Adobe's announcement is big news.
Why DNG is Important
The raw format isn't really a format, but simply the raw data that comes from the camera's light sensor. Each camera manufacturer has created its own method of storing this data, and that has made more work for Adobe. Every time a new raw format appears, Adobe's engineers essentially have to crack the code and update Adobe's Camera Raw plug-in to work with the new format.
(Indeed, Adobe has just released Camera Raw version 2.3, which incorporates support for 65 new cameras.)
The DNG format has the potential to eliminate these follies. Future cameras will simply write their raw data in DNG format -- either by default or as an option -- and any program that supports DNG will be able to open the file.
There's another huge benefit. In this brave new digital age, file formats tend to become outdated or obsolete over time. How many of today's programs support the VisiCalc format or the PixelPaint format? Digital photographers who shoot in raw format have had a cloud hanging over their heads: Will their raw files be readable next year? In ten years? In 100 years?
In a world where Matthew Brady's glass plates are still readable, the notion of a digital image becoming unreadable in a decade or two is a terrifying one for a photographer.
The DNG format eases that terror. Convert your proprietary raw files into DNG format, and they'll be readable by the Digital Photo iPod brain implant that your great-grandchildren will be using in 2084.
There will undoubtedly be some bumps on the road toward this archival nirvana. To learn more about the DNG format, check out rawformat.com. This new site is a recent addition to the Avondale Media network, and it's the place to go for links and leads to everything raw.
There's also a book you must buy: Bruce Frasier's new Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS is the definitive guide to working with raw images and maximizing their potential. It will also teach you volumes about how digital cameras work.
And finally, a shameless plug: if you like to learn by watching, check out the latest instructional DVD from us here at Avondale Media: Secrets of the Photoshop Masters, Volume 2. In it, Jeff Schewe, one of the most brilliant Photoshop gurus I've ever met, walks you through the process of converting raw files and taking full advantage of their imaging versatility.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Posted 10:29 AM
This One's For My Brother: The Jazz and Blues Mastery of Bill Heid
I have two older brothers, and both are superbly talented jazz musicians. Bill Heid is among the top jazz organists in the world. Many music lovers are only now discovering the might and power of the Hammond B3; I was lucky to grow up with it. I've also had the fun of seeing my brother perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and of bidding him safe travels when he journeyed to other parts of the world as part of the US State Department's Jazz Ambassadors program.
Bill has recorded several albums on the Savant label. His Dark Secrets is one of my favorites, although I'm also partial to the more-recent Da Girl, which JazzTimes magazine called "one of the best jazz organ dates of the year."
Alas, as is the case with too much great music, Bill's albums are not available on iTunes Music Store. The CDs are available at Amazon, as the box below shows.
It's the Blues
Bill has also been a sideman on some blues albums from the legendary, Chicago-based Alligator Records -- and some of them are available on the iTunes Music Store.
My favorite? Fenton Robinson's 1974 release, Somebody Loan Me a Dime. Bill's piano playing is just plain perfect on the slow blues classic, Going to Chicago.
Bill also plays piano and organ on Fenton Robinson's Grammy-nominated 1978 date, I Hear Some Blues Downstairs.
And my other big brother? His name is George Heid, and he plays drums and percussion. He's also a brilliant recording engineer -- in the mold of the great Rudy van Gelder -- and engineers all of Bill's albums.
Here's a tip of the hat to my big brothers, who have taught me so much about music and audio and life.