Space Photos are so COOL!!

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, photographed by Neil Armstrong (visible in reflection). Buzz Aldrin: "As I walked away from the Eagle Lunar Module, Neil said 'Hold it, Buzz', so I stopped and turned around, and then he took what has become known as the 'Visor' photo. I like this photo because it captures the moment of a solitary human figure against the horizon of the Moon, along with a reflection in my helmet's visor of our home away from home, the Eagle, and of Neil snapping the photo. Here we were, farther away from the rest of humanity than any two humans had ever ventured. Yet, in another sense, we became inextricably connected to the hundreds of millions watching us more than 240,000 miles away. In this one moment, the world came together in peace for all mankind." (quoted with permission from Apollo Through the Eyes of the Astronauts).

This summer marks the 40th anniversary that mankind traveled to the surface of the moon (and back!) on the Apollo 11 mission. Take a visual vacation back to the summer of 1969 by viewing 40 photographs featured on The Boston Globe's website: Remembering Apollo 11.

Most of Africa and portions of Europe and Asia can be seen in this photograph taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its translunar coast towards the moon. Apollo 11 was already 98,000 nautical miles from Earth when this picture was made on July 17, 1969.

A close-up view of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's boot and boot print in the lunar soil, photographed with a 70mm lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA) on July 20, 1969.

New York City welcomes Apollo 11 astronauts in a showering of ticker tape down Broadway and Park Avenue in a parade termed the largest in the city's history on August 13, 1969.


Ethics & Photojournalism

Hello again, photographers and photography students! I've been away for awhile (as have you), mostly due to the summer vacation. As I start gearing up for the new school year I thought I should start posting to the blog again. And why not start with a view into photojournalism...especially when it pertains to digital images.

According to the The New York Times: "Images in our pages, in the paper or on the Web, that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way. No people or objects may be added, rearranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a scene (except for the recognized practice of cropping to omit extraneous outer portions)." But that doesn't mean it doesn't happen all the time (or in other publications).

Some of you may be too young to remember (but I'm sure ALL of you know the story), but back in 1994 when O.J. Simpson was arrested for the double homicide of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman TIME magazine was neck-deep in hot water for their cover photo of O.J.'s mugshot.

NEWSWEEK magazine published the photo "as-is", whereas the TIME cover portrays Simpson's face as darker, blurrier, and unshaven. The photographer that manipulated the picture said that he "wanted to make it more artful, more compelling". Obviously, because of the malicious backlash that TIME magazine received, the photographer stepped waaay over an ethical (unwritten) boundary that states that a photojournalist must portray his subject with an unwavering, neutral viewpoint. Is this even possible?

Earlier this morning, while I was up (as usual) a couple of hours before the rest of the family, I was browsing through a wonderful blog that I happened upon last semester. The blog Lens (brought to the web by The New York Times) ran an update last week on photographer Edgar Martins who is (about ankle-deep) in controversy due to a photographic essay, “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age", that was printed in The Times Magazine (with an accompanying slide show on NYTimes.com).

From the article "Behind the Scenes: Digital Manipulation" on Lens:

There’s probably no more troubling issue facing photojournalism than the digital manipulation of images that are supposed to faithfully represent what’s in front of the camera.

Digital technology permits so many interventions — some acutely obvious, others so subtle that only computers can detect them — that the line has blurred between manipulation and the kind of enhancement and editing that viewers customarily expect; like cropping, color correction, burning and dodging.

Blurry as it may get, there’s no question that the digital rearrangement or insertion of physical objects constitutes manipulation that The Times will not accept.

The longstanding policy is unambiguous:

Images in our pages, in the paper or on the Web, that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way. No people or objects may be added, rearranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a scene (except for the recognized practice of cropping to omit extraneous outer portions).

That’s not to say it doesn’t happen.

A picture essay in The Times Magazine on Sunday and an accompanying slide show on NYTimes.com, “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age,” have been found to include digital alterations. The photos showed unfinished or unoccupied construction projects around the United States that came to a halt — at least in part — because of the financial crisis. They were taken by Edgar Martins, a 32-year-old freelance photographer.

By Tuesday, sharp-eyed readers were calling the pictures into question. One comment on the MetaFilter blog included an animated dissection. The PDN Pulse blog also pointed out five instances in which objects had apparently been duplicated.

In response, The Times published an editors’ note, noting that the introduction to the essay “said that the photographer, a freelancer based in Bedford, England, ‘creates his images with long exposures but without digital manipulation.’”

A reader, however, discovered on close examination that one of the pictures was digitally altered, apparently for aesthetic reasons. Editors later confronted the photographer and determined that most of the images did not wholly reflect the reality they purported to show. Had the editors known that the photographs had been digitally manipulated, they would not have published the picture essay, which has been removed from NYTimes.com.

Kenneth Irby, the visual journalism group leader at the Poynter Institute, had no comment Wednesday on the Magazine essay, which he hadn’t yet seen. Speaking generally, however, he noted the “tremendous competition in the marketplace for imagery,” while at the same time, “with a click of a mouse, a perceived imperfection can be adjusted and modified.”

He continued, “To distinguish oneself with a great photo or powerful reportage — that’s a temptation.”

Following is Mr. Martin’s e-mail response on Thursday to a request for an interview:


However, I will not be able to do share my views with you for a few more days.

I have been informed of the discussion that is currently taking place concerning the feature, which I had anticipated to some degree, but which I have not yet been able to acquaintance myself with it, as I am traveling and so unable to access the internet. (Yes, believe it or not there are still places in this world with limited or no internet connection..)

I will no doubt be discussing this issue you with yourself, your readers and readers from other blogs fairly soon.

In the meantime let the debate rage on… no doubt this will open up a healthy dialogue about Photography, its inexorable links to the real & its inadequacies. Or so I hope…

Interesting dialogue, for sure......something to think about! Take care and I will keep you updated!!