Madeline Albright for The Atlantic
The funny and somewhat ridiculous thing about photo contests is their absolute subjectivity. You spend hundreds of dollars entering images that will be given a few seconds of the judge's time, spread out among thousands of your peer's best work from the last year.
So it's with complete surprise and happiness that I found out this image of Madeline Albright will be included in the PDN Photo Annual, Communication Arts Photo Annual and American Photography 29. The last of these also recognized this image of my favorite bearded journalist Mark Knoller that I shot for the Washingtonian.
Journalist Mark Knoller for the Washingtonian.
As photographers, or more specifically photojournalists (of which I'm not so sure I identify with anymore), we inhabit a world of transit, interrupted by brief, often intense experiences as we drop into stories, spend a few hours or days on them, then just as quickly move on to the next.
I watched the path of Hurricane Sandy filled not with an itch to cover the next big story, but with memories of the New Jersey shore, where I spent parts of each summer of my childhood swimming, surfing and making sand castles. Now we take our children there and I still marvel at this narrow stretch of land, how fragile it is, and how new and different the ocean and sky can be each day. Our family has a home in Mantoloking, where one of the more iconic photos of the storm, showing the Mantoloking Bridge descending into water, was taken. The house is about a five minute walk from that bridge and for a long time, we had no sense of whether our house made it through the storm or not.
So this was unmistakably my story and my place and I immediately felt protective of how it was covered and of all the little details that journalists were getting wrong (the bridge was misidentified by the Times and others as being in Seaside Heights for nearly a week).
These photographs are from a single day (last Monday), as I walked along the beach starting around 4AM until the sun came up. To reach the beach, I walked down silent roads, framed by bumpy piles of waterlogged mattresses, sofas and tables stacked high on the sidewalk. With no electricity, the beach and sky were deeply dark and there was no delineator between horizon and sky. The destruction was mostly just jagged dark shadows against a slightly lighter sky.
The news media quickly moved on past the Jersey shore and rightfully so, as many areas of New York were hit much harder with much more vulnerable populations. Still, this place, my place, is just in the beginning of rebuilding, and inevitably, this will be the place I return to, again and again.
One of my two and half year old son's favorite games is hiding, then shouting, "You'll never find me!" It's sort of a wonderful notion, that as long as he can't see us, he's invisible.
I've taken to photographing these moments as he remains absolutely still, at least until he opens his eyes and peeks at me to make sure I'm still looking for him. Here are a few of my favorites.
I'm rarely able to slip away to photograph when traveling with family, but instead seek out rewards that present themselves closer by, in those between times of movement and stillness. There are a few of those moments from my trip to Buenos Aires last week.
I received my Canon 5D Mark III's last Monday and have been shooting pretty much every day with them ever since (short review: AF finally works, thank goodness, and the hand grip is deeper, which is nice). In perusing the online reviews, I saw a mention of the Silent Shooting Mode. Having used this on the 5D Mark II, my impressions were that it was a pretty interesting idea, but badly implemented. Basically, on the Mark 2 the mirror would stay up as long as the shutter button was held down, making for an exceptionally long blackout time and having to consciously think about releasing the button every time you took a picture.
With the 5D Mark III, the feature has been improved immensely and essentially just slows down the mirror a bit to decrease the sound of it hitting. You get a slightly longer mirror blackout, but otherwise there's no difference except for the sound, which is ridiculously quiet. Like, quiet enough to proclaim on Twitter that it seemed even quieter than my trusty (read: unused) Leica M6.
So, is it?
In search of some answers (and waiting for some RAW images to be outputted), I set up a little test, placing both cameras on a couch and measuring the sound of their shutters using dB Meter Pro on my iPhone. I initially was going to put a lens on each one, but sadly, I sold my last Leica lens a few years ago, and have for some reason held onto the M6 body thinking that one day I might pull it out again and run few rolls of Tri-X through it. So, I decided to do the test with the shutter caps off (hello sensor dust), and the iPhone positioned about two inches away from each (yes, I measured).
Anyway, on to the test. I did five actuations for each (both at 1/500), making sure the phone's microphone was positioned the same distance away.
Here are the numbers (measured in dB):
Leica M6 : 100, 101, 103, 102, 102.
Average: 101.6 dB
Canon 5D Mark III (in Silent Mode) : 98, 99, 99, 98, 100.
Average: 98.8 dB
Here's an audio file, with five actuations of the Canon, then Leica. As you can hear, the Leica's shutter sound is shorter and a bit sharper, while the Canon is stretched out a bit, but sounds more dampened.
So, what does this all mean? Comparing a film camera that ended production in 1998 with the latest/greatest from Canon doesn't really count for much of anything, except that the Leica has always been held up as the paradigm of quiet-- the camera by which all others are measured. More importantly, this is a killer feature for a camera that seems to have fixed the majority of the issues its predecessor had, and then furthers its appeal by improving a feature that most photographers didn't even know existed.