Stephen Colbert takes on Amazons White Background Photography Patent

by JamesNYCMay 16. 2014 02:35

It really take a certain type of ridiculousness or greed to draw the ire of Steven Colbert and have him dedicate time to pointing that out. But last weeks many announcements regarding the Amazon patent for Photography on a white background and the blow back from the professional photographic community was reason enough to draw The Colbert Reports attention.

This:  The Colbert Report segment does a great job of highlighting the ridiculous culture of patents; and as Steven points out: “so if you have an idea, and you work hard, someday you too can get sued by someone who had a similar idea”  before diving right into how Amazon’s wordy description of a common practice is, not “bull shit,” but rather “male bovine fecal matter extruded on a longitudinal axis.”

Don’t worry though, Amazon’s gonna get what’s coming to them because Colbert filed a patent that goes even one step further than patenting a technique everyone uses always… he patented patenting things. Check out the video to see it all for yourself and we hope this helps start off your Friday on a fun note.

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Walmart Files Suit Against Photographer's Widow

by JamesNYCMay 15. 2014 15:48

Your typical copyright infringement involves one photographer stealing another photographer's images, or reproducing copyrighted images without permission. But in this case, it's the largest retailer in the world bullying a small Arkansas studio.

Walmart and its founding family, the Waltons, have filed suit against Helen Huff, the widow of Arkansas photographer David A. Huff. David Huff's studio, Bob's Studio of Photography, was founded by his late father, Robert A. Huff, in 1946, and created portraits of the Walton family before the expansion of Walmart grew them into one of the wealthiest families in the world. But now Walmart and the Walton family are demanding that Helen Huff hand over those works.

Read the full story here. Walmart.jpg

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The Very First Color Photographs of the United States

by JamesNYCMay 15. 2014 14:27

Mulberry Street in New York, around 1900

You're looking at some of the very first color photographs of North America! A fascinating new photography book called An American Odyssey opens the archive of the Detroit Photographic Company to reveal America in brilliant color from the late 1880s to the early 1920s. Several thousand black-and-white negatives were reproduced in color by a photolithographic technique invented in Switzerland, called the Photochrom process.

Graphic designer, photographer, and collector Marc Walter owns one of the world’s largest collections of vintage travel pictures, or more specifically photochroms, and co-authored the book, An American Odyssey, with documentarian Sabine Arqué. The 612 page book takes us back in time, showing us rare and remarkable images of America's past including some of its most iconic landmarks.

As it states in the introduction of An American Odyssey, "Here, then, is the Grand Canyon in color more than ten years before the invention of Autochrome by the Lumière brothers. . . . The Grand Canyon had been discovered in the early 1850s and, by 1895, had already been photographed during the scientific expeditions organized by the American government in 1860–70: Timothy O’Sullivan, J.J. Fennemore, William Bell, William Henry Jackson, and John K. Hillers had already brought back monochrome pictures of the canyon. But the colors of the Grand Canyon—the reds, browns, ochers, and white of its strata burned by the sun were unknown to all but a select few. The colors of what Henry Miller termed 'the land of the Indian' . . . were for the first time revealed to the world by the photochroms of W. H. Jackson.



 Anonymous, A Monday washing, New York, photochrom.

Mariposa Grove, "Three Graces," Yosemite National Park, California.


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Vintage Blade Runner Featurette

by JamesNYCMay 15. 2014 11:10

Blade Runner is one of my all time favorite films. Here is a documentary short on a trio of geniuses at work — director Ridley Scott, visual futurist Syd Mead and special photographic effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull — during the production of the still-astonishing Blade Runner. It was released on 16mm intended to make the rounds of science-fiction conventions in 1982.

Blade Runner Feaurette (1982) from Jeremy Abbett on Vimeo.

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Collector Sues Chicago Gallery for Damaging 54 Vivian Maier Prints

by JamesNYCMay 13. 2014 14:02

The owners of a Wicker Park gallery are being sued as a result of a 2012 exhibit of works by the photographer.

A photo collector who bought part of the Vivian Maier photo collection when Maier’s storage locker was auctioned off in 2007 has sued a Chicago gallery: Corbett vs. Dempsey, for damaging 54 images during a 2012 exhibition of the work; according to a report today in the Chicago Reader.

Vivian Maier who was unknown as a photographer when she died in 2009 has since been promoted to stardom by the PR machine of collectors John Maloof and Jeffrey Goldstein. They bought the vast majority of Maier’s negatives and prints at the 2007 auction and are not involved in the claim against Corbett vs. Dempsey.

The collector suing the gallery is Ron Slattery, who bought several thousand of Maier’s negatives and several thousand prints when her storage locker was auctioned. According to the Chicago Reader report, Slattery provided 56 of the prints to Corbett vs. Dempsey for an exhibition and sale that ran from June through December, 2012. Two of the prints sold but Slattery claims that the gallery returned the other 54 prints in damaged condition. He alleges that the gallery used too much hinge glue to mount the photographs and it soaked through the print paper “severely distorting the images.” Slattery’s claim also that the damage was “exacerbated” by exposure of the prints to “excessive heat,” and he alleges the gallery tried to cover up the damage, according to the Chicago Reader report.

The gallery says it admitted the damage to Slattery upon return of the images and claims to have made “multiple” offers to settle the claim for $8,700–the cost of repairs estimated by a restorer consulted by the gallery.

Slattery is seeking $200,000 in actual damages to the photographs, plus $2 million in punitive damages.

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The Making of the Pirelli 2012 Calendar - Mario Sorrenti

by JamesNYCMay 12. 2014 13:55

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“Twin Peaks” creator David Lynch reveals where his ideas come from

by JamesNYCMay 8. 2014 14:53

Ever wonder where the man behind the movie “Blue Velvet” and other artistic endeavors gets his ideas? Last week in a talk with Paul Holdengräber at Brooklyn Academy of Music, David Lynch gave us a glimpse into his extraordinary and brilliant mind.

Asked about where his ideas come from, Lynch explained,”It comes like on a TV in your mind.” Lynch also called ideas “beautiful gifts.” A portion of the hour-long talk can be viewed below:

It's always great to hear how others creative get there ideas; as opposed to those that steal and "Re-purpose" the works of others from the past.

According to Brooklyn Magazine, Lynch expounded on other topics. In terms of music Lynch loves Kanye West, specifically “Yeezus,” which he said was “one of the most modern pieces and so minimal, so powerful but at the same time so beautiful.” He also loves Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young.

He also thinks everybody is a voyeur, saying, “Looking into windows is something so fantastic. It’s like cinema, and a glimpse into another world, other lives. So beautiful.” David Lynch was also an Eagle Scout, who volunteered at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration where he saw “four consecutive presidents just gliding by me.” An in-depth reading can be found here.

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Photography Against A White Background - Patent granted to Amazon "WTF"

by JamesNYCMay 6. 2014 12:09

In yet another act of insanity and a further display of the US Patent and Trademark Office level of ignorance and complete incompetence on display during the past 10 years, the USPTO has granted Amazon a Patent for: "Photography Against A White Background".

Polaroid | PHOTO ASSISTANT against white background 1989

Now how anyone in any office would not be able to pick up any magazine produced in the last 100 years and not find "Prior Art" that would be an example of this type of photographic lighting setup is simply astounding.

Creating images of people or products against a clean white background is probably the most common studio photography techniques in use and a basic  skill for any studio photographer using studio strobes or continuous lighting. But that has not stopped the US Patent and Trademark Office from granting Amazon one of the most bizarre and needless patents I've heard of in a long time. A studio lighting setup that allows photographers to "achieve a desired effect of a substantially seamless background." Yes, Amazon now holds a patent for taking photos with a clean white backdrop.

Which is rather astounding because I've been doing this with studio strobes and or tungsten lights sources since 1989. And still others have been doing this since the 40's as far as I can tell based upon my 4 minutes of Google research.

The details of the patent itself are slightly more focused, calling out specific lighting placement and even the placement of a 21-inch raised platform nine feet from the backdrop for the subject to stand on. The patent's diagrams show very specific numbers and placements of the light sources, but those details aren't the point. Enforcing such a patent would appear to be nearly impossible, considering the nature of such photos with a pure white background, there's no way to know if the photographer is following the specific setup that Amazon patented.

Regardless of enforceability, the idea of patenting a fundamental and basic photography setup is hard to fathom, particularly when you consider that Amazon filed for the patent in November of 2011. If the USPTO had asked around a little, it probably could have found dozens of photographers who have used nearly identical setups for years particularly given that the ability to manipulate a background from pure white all the way down to black is something every photographer masters when learning how to use strobes.

View the Patent here

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Leica Launchs the New Leica T-System

by JamesNYCApril 24. 2014 01:44

Los Angeles, California - April 24th, 2014 -- Leica Camera continues to celebrate its journey into the future with the launch of the radically new yet brilliantly familiar Leica T-System. The Leica-T was designed with dynamic simplicity in collaboration with AUDI Design and it is the fourth system ever to be released from Leica. The Leica T-System features Wi-Fi, a rebuilt graphical user interface (GUI), Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®, a professional digital workflow solution for Apple Mac® OS X and Microsoft Windows®.


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The Profoto B1 Can Now Perform TTL Metering with Canon EOS-1D X

by JamesNYCMarch 31. 2014 05:11

Profoto Announces B1 Firmware Upgrade

Today, Profoto followed through on its promise to continuously update and improve their B1 wireless, off-camera flash system,  by announcing their first B1 firmware upgrade and update to the AirTTL system,  enabling TTL metering with the Canon EOS-1D X.

Since its release in November last year, the B1 has been able to perform TTL metering with the majority of Canon cameras. But there was one exception – Canon’s flagship – the EOS-1D X. Today, this feature is made available free of charge through an easily installed firmware upgrade.


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