6.8.22

Crimes against humanity in Ukraine during the war

 

Antonio Cossa in areas recently occupied by the Russians.
Inprin, Bucha, Borodyanka


I recently witnessed extensive damage to residential areas, including a block where a projectile blew a hole in an apartment. There were abandoned carts everywhere. There were bullet-riddled cars and charred houses where the roofs had been completely ripped off.

Odors of some dead are still under the rubble. Others were hastily buried in courtyards and parks because a proper funeral was impossible. The mayor estimates that between 200 and 300 civilians were killed here, some directly targeted as they fled. The final death toll is likely to be higher.

The Russians occupied much of the city, but resistance here in Inprin was strong. Ukraine's Defense Ministry recognized "the mass heroism and resilience of residents and defenders" with the honorary title of "Hero City of Ukraine".
Inside the city, as police and heavily armed troops kept watch, there was a palpable layer of tension.

That victory was difficult, but the troops we spoke with admitted that the Russians might come back at some point.

Moscow now says it will drastically reduce its attacks around the capital and focus on the eastern Donbas region. In reality, the Kremlin had little choice, as its offensives in the capital had stalled.

But in time Russian forces may regroup and attack the capital again. If they do, the "city of heroes" will again be on the way and in the line of fire.

As I left Irpin for other newly occupied areas, I saw a handful of civilians being evacuated on foot, crossing the riverbed on wooden planks precariously balanced on rubble and boulders. It is the wreckage of a bridge, blown up by Ukrainian forces to block the Russian advance - another sacrifice made by Irpin.




The Bucha Massacre

The Bucha massacre was the murder and abuse of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian Armed Forces during the fighting and occupation of the Ukrainian city of Bucha.
Approximately 1,300 bodies were recovered in and around the city, including 31 children.

In these places, civilian corpses were found, lined up with their hands tied behind their backs, shot at point-blank range, which ostensibly proved that summary executions had taken place.

 Many bodies were found mutilated and burned, and fourteen-year-old girls reported being raped by soldiers.
 



Borodianka Massacre

The city of Borodianka was extensively bombed by the Russian Armed Forces during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Borodianka, a quiet "one-street town north of Kyiv, had around 13,000 residents.

As Russian forces fought in and near Kyiv, Borodianka, which lies on a strategically important road, was the target of several Russian air strikes. According to Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine's attorney general, Russian soldiers used cluster munitions and Tornado and Uragan rockets to destroy buildings and fired "at night, when the maximum number of people would be at home". Most of the city's buildings were destroyed, including almost all of its main street. Russian bombs hit the center of the buildings and caused them to collapse while the structures remained standing. residents were buried alive by air strikes and died for up to a week. those who tried to help them were shot at by Russian soldiers.




Venediktova also accused Russian soldiers of "murdering, torturing and beating" civilians.

Some villagers hid in caves for 38 days. On March 26, 2022, Russia, repulsed from Kyiv, progressively withdrew from the region to focus on Donbas. open window. He estimated at least 200 dead.

Only a few hundred residents remained in Borodianka when the Russians withdrew, with around 90% of residents fleeing and an unknown number of dead in the rubble. Retreating Russian troops laid mines across the city.

António Cossa
United Photo Press

5.8.22

UNITED PHOTO PRESS presents “Elements, Photography Representing the Universe and Celebrating Life”


The international exhibition “Elements, Photography Representing the Universe and Celebrating Life” is organized in four parts: photography, painting, video & music.

The exhibition “Elements” gives us another the look at the arts, their contexts, their intra and extra-artistic relationships, their conceptual strata, promote an endless game of statements in which the dense production of meaning constitutes the predominant gesture.

It tries to sketch a joint portrait of the arts and the issues that cross the reflection of the different cultural acts of United Photo Press artists from various parts of the globe. The exhibition shows the importance of dialogue between art and other related areas, so that thinking about new stories and new meanings of creative mixtures can be broadened...



4 OCTOBER | 30 NOVEMBER 2022
FUNCHAL ELECTRICITY MUSEUM
MADEIRA ISLAND
www.unitedphotopress.com
www.unitedphotopressworld.org

1.8.22

Pro photographer makes incredible macro photographs at 1000 megapixels!


Fabio Lena specializes in photographing incredibly detailed macro photography of insects revealing all of their fine details.

Fabio Lena was born in Venice in 1961, and has been passionate about entomology and photography from a very young age. The study of insects and the meticulous approach and the in-depth study of photographic techniques have led him to create detailed macro photographs for incredibly large-format prints.

His Microcosmo project of massively detailed macro insect imagery now spans more than 80 photographs, each one being about several gigapixels (that’s 1000 megapixels) large!

We recently sat down with him to find out more about his macro photography and the specialist setup and equipment that he uses to take his incredible close-up shots.

"As a little boy I had access to the entomology laboratory of the S.N. from Venice and this was where I discovered my passion for nature photography.

"When I was getting into super macro photography I asked myself, how I could relive that emotion I felt as a child seeing tiny insects under a microscope which left me awestruck. In my Microcosmo project, which now contains more than 80 images, I’ve been creating highly-detailed images of tiny insects using a specialist setup and my Canon EOS 5DS. I merge multiple images, like a mosaic, and I focus stack each ‘tile’ to ensure total sharpness. I use Zerene Stacker software to merge the pictures together.

"I’ve turned an insect just 2cm in size into a canvas print measuring 3x170m which is in a permanent exhibition at the Yangpyeong Insect Museum in South Korea. A finished image is usually a blend of 8000 shots – my largest image to date was about 11 Gigapixels, or 1000 megapixels!

"I select specimens from all around the world, preferring those with bright colours and good looks. I search for perfect symmetry and maximum cleanliness of the surface as any small imperfection, at high magnification, would end becoming particularly unsightly.

"My workbench is setup specifically for these shots and is very specialized, including computerized sliders to move the camera, special macro lenses, a bellows system, LED lights and a hand-made anti-torsion platform."



1 - Canon EOS 5DS - "To ensure I’m able to capture all of the fine details I use a Canon EOS 5DS, which has a 50.6MP full frame imaging sensor, producing images with a resolution of 8688x5446 pixels. This means when I’ve finished merging all of my various pictures together in my insect ‘panorama’ they have a final resolution of often several gigapixels in size and can be printed at 10m on the longest side."

2 - Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro - "The Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1x5x mega macro lens allows me to vary the magnification from 1-5x lifesize. A reproduction ratio of 1:1 means it’s lifesize, capturing the insect at the same size as if it were laid across the imaging sensor. But going to 5:1 makes it five times more ‘zoomed in’ than lifesize. It is a very unique and useful lens for my work."

3 -  Canon Auto Bellows - "I put Canon Auto Bellows between my Canon EOS 5DS and Lomo 3.7x0.11 Microscope lens, which lets me rack the lens further away, or closer to the camera. Moving the lens away will boost magnification and help correct converging verticals. It’s an old FD mount model, but still works brilliantly well and is perfect for macro. You can still find them on online auction sites for around £75."




4 - Lomo 3.7x 0.11 Microscope Objective lens - "Microscope optics have recently been used in traditional macro photography, namely combined directly with a camera and no longer with a microscope. The Lomo optic is Russian made, it was handmade and proved to be one of the best for low refraction and optical distortion in the x3.7 magnification ratio."

5 - Cognisys StackShot Macro Rail - "The macro rail consists of a motorized slide assisted by an electronic control unit. This allows the camera body to be advanced from a minimum of one micron. It can manage the advance and waiting time between shots to dissipate micro vibrations and control the shutter release. It also calculates the number of shots to be taken on the basis of the starting point, the end point and how many microns must be advanced per shot."


"The macro rail consists of a motorized slide assisted by an electronic control unit. This allows the camera body to be advanced from a minimum of one micron. It can manage the advance and waiting time between shots to dissipate micro vibrations and control the shutter release. It also calculates the number of shots to be taken on the basis of the starting point, the end point and how many microns must be advanced per shot."

6 - LED panels - "I use a variety of LED lights and panels, I often utilize 20w versions that I’ve picked up from a DIY shop or even IKEA. It’s important that the colours are consistent between the panels. I use three LEDs, two from each side and another from the top. These are all fitted with diffusing panels for softer gentle shadows and have to further pass through another diffusion layer looped around the insect."


Dan Mold


20.7.22

Saab 35 Draken: The Fighter Built For World War III With Russia



Saab 35 Draken – Sweden Had a Cold War Fighter to Be Reckoned With – As Sweden now ponders joining NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is illustrative to examine a Swedish Cold War airplane that was meant to stand up to the Soviets. Sweden was neutral during that era, but its military feared a spill-over effect if the Soviets violated Swedish air space in a menacing manner. Thus, the Saab 35 Draken fighter emerged with an interesting and innovative design.


This Airplane Started Off with a Unique Design
In the late 1940s, Sweden wanted a fighter-interceptor that was fast and could climb quickly against enemy bombers. The requirements called for a large weapons storage, long endurance, and the ability to take off from short runways. Swedish engineers and technicians had a brainwave on a new design feature. They arrived on a unique double delta wing design that made the Draken stand out among other fighters of its day. This was a leap forward in what was possible in fighter jets at the time.

Double Delta Wing Was Like No Other
Military Factory described the wing design as a “two paired delta wings” working in tandem. One pair set forward with a “sharper sweep angle” and the second pair with a more “gradual angle.” This was mated with a single vertical tail.

It Became a Fast Fighter
By the 1950s this design resembled a kite, and it kept that nickname, even though the translation of Draken is “dragon.” The wings provided speed and maneuverability plus the ability to carry more fuel and weapons. The air intakes with elliptical openings allowed one prototype in the mid-1950s to break the sound barrier on a climb, which showed that the design of the Draken was advantageous.

Superstalls Were Dangerous
However, sometimes the airplane “superstalled”, (a sudden loss of altitude due to instability) and the test pilots were forced to create maneuvers that would avoid these dangers. This learning curve came at a cost. There were 179-Draken superstalls that resulted in 35-crashes that ended up killing four pilots. Since the Draken was exported to Finland, Austria, and Denmark, more pilots had to be trained on how to avoid these treacherous losses of altitude.

Saab 35: Pilots Had to React Quickly
To finally answer the question of superstalls, pilots learned the “Cobra Maneuver,” which National Interest described as “a technically challenging aerobatic display in which a rapid lift of the nose causes an airplane to fly forward perpendicular to the ground. While a pilot faces the sky, they momentarily turn the airframe into an enormous airbrake and so rapidly slows down the airplane.”

651 of the planes were produced over the decades and it emerged as the main fighter-interceptor for the Swedish air force. It was the first European-built airplane to reach MACH Two. The Draken never faced combat but it likely would have performed well against Soviet fighters in a dogfight. It carried an array of weapons including cannons, bombs, and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

Despite the danger of superstalls, the Draken had a sterling reputation and Austria even kept them in service until 2005, which meant that they flew 50 years. The original Swedish designers probably had no idea that the radical double delta wings would display that much durability.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

17.7.22

Devialet Dione


Devialet’s debut soundbar looks fun, but sounds deadly serious.

As soon as you look at the Devialet Dione you know it’s no ordinary soundbar. The appearance of a perfect sphere sitting proudly at the heart of a gracefully created valley in the Dione’s middle is like no other soundbar design we’ve seen.

The sultry sculpting isn’t just for show, either. You can actually rotate the center channel ‘Orb’ around in its mount so that the Dione can be either mounted vertically on a wall or sat on a TV stand without sound quality being affected. It's a new one on us, and we couldn't stop playing with it throughout our Devialet Dione review…

Sound is produced via 950W of claimed power pumping through a 5.1.2 channel configuration that includes a pair of up-firing speakers to support the Dione’s Dolby Atmos decoding.

Despite being Devialet’s debut soundbar, the Dione uses this power and channel count to spectacular effect, producing a massive but also beautifully constructed and balanced soundstage underpinned by arguably the finest bass performance we’ve heard from a soundbar that doesn’t deploy an external subwoofer.

PLAY SOUND

We’d have liked to find an HDMI passthrough option for the Devialet Dione’s money, and having to use a mobile phone to control it rather than a normal remote takes a little getting used to. Also, there's simply no option for rear speakers at all, so if you want that, you should consider a Sonos Arc package, or something like the Samsung HW-Q990B that gives you everything in one bundle.

As a single-box sound solution, though, the Dione’s combination of clever functionality and rip-roaring sound ensure put it up there with the very best soundbars available today.
Devialet Dione Price
Official price $2,400 / £1,990 / AU$3,990





The Devialet Dione is pitched very much at the high end of the soundbar market. Even Samsung’s flagship Q990B soundbar system, with its included three-channel rear speakers and separate subwoofer, costs about a quarter less than the Dione.


While the Samsung system is first and foremost a home theater system, though, there’s a thriving ‘hi-fi’ market in the soundbar world for systems that are as interested in, and as good at, music as they are movies. This seems to be where the Devialet Dione wants to sit, joined as it is at its price point by such renowned rivals as the Sennheiser Ambeo and various Sonos Arc systems (if you add in the Sonos Sub and rear speakers).

Unlike a Sonos Arc system or the Samsung Q990B, though, the Dione wants to do it all – including subwoofer-rivalling bass – from a single box. Tidy, compact(ish), easy to set up. It's like the Sony HT-A7000 in that way… but for 50% more money.

So there's clearly an established place in the market for the Dione, but it will only truly be at home there if it delivers the sound quality goods.


The Devialet Dione can be used upright or flat, thanks to some very clever speaker design. (Image credit: Future)
Devialet Dione 
FeaturesRotatable ‘Orb’ center channel
Designed for wall or desktop mounting
5.1.2-channel configuration

The main feature of the Devialet Dione – or at least the one you notice first – is actually its design. Partly for the unique way its single-bar approach looks, which we’ll get into more later, but mostly because of what it does.

The thing is, the unusual spherical speaker that delivers the soundbar’s center channel information can actually be manually rotated round to adjust its direction of sound output. Why might you want to do this? So that you can either sit the Dione horizontally on its wide, flat edge underneath a TV, or hang it up with its wide, flat edge resting against the wall and still have the center sphere firing out its sound in the correct orientation in both configurations.

A built in gyroscope ensures the Dione always knows whether it’s hung up or laid flat, so that it can adjust which channels of sound are being output by the other drivers. So the front drivers when the Dione is laying flat become the upfirers when it’s hanging on a wall, and vice versa.

It’s all so cool, honestly, that a certain type of AV geek will likely be unable to resist rotating the center channel Orb around and back again whenever they have visitors round, just because they can.

The spherical design of the center speaker is intended to help disperse its sound over a wider area than such a small driver would normally manage, while also removing the potential for coloration you can get with straight-edged speakers.

The Dione fits a total of 17 speakers into its reasonably compact form, including nine full range aluminium drivers and a seriously eye-catching eight long-throw bass drivers. This suggests that Devialet is taking low frequencies very seriously indeed with its debut soundbar (it claims to be able to get as low as 24Hz), boding well for its home theater credentials.

As you would expect of a such an expensive soundbar, the Dione supports playback of Dolby Atmos soundtracks. It can also, of course, revert to stereo or even mono for music or old movie soundtracks – though Devialet has developed a SPACE processing system that can upscale low-channel sources to take advantage of the Dione’s full 5.1.2 channel count.

There’s no support for DTS:X, though. DTS is taken in as PCM by the Dione, with the SPACE system then applied to it. Devialet has told us that it could add DTS in the future, in a technological sense, but not to expect it any time soon, if it happens at all.

The Dione’s connections include just a single HDMI, so there’s no possibility of looping HDMI sources through it. Instead you’re limited to using HDMI’s eARC/ARC feature to pass Dolby Atmos and other sound formats through compatible TVs to the soundbar. This is fine in principle, but picture/audio sync issues remain quite common with ARC. The audio delay adjustments found in TVs and some source equipment can often solve such issues if you have them, but a loopthrough on the Dione would have been a welcome back up – especially since it means you don't lose the use of an HDMI port for video sources.

The Dione includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, though, and is compatible with AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. The AirPlay 2 system can be used, too, to partner the Dione with Devialet’s Phantom speakers as part of a multi-room installation… or with any other AirPlay 2 speakers, of course. The Dione provides an excellent autocalibration system that uses input from no less than four built in mics doing to adjust the sound to take into account your specific room conditions.
One final thing to note is that, very unusually, the Dione doesn’t ship with a remote control. Instead you have to control it via the HDMI CEC system and your TV’s remote or, more effectively, via a Devialet app. It's like Sonos' soundbars, in this way.

This app isn’t as straightforward as just picking up a dedicated handset, but it’s easy enough to find your way round with a little practice. It also provides some quite useful information on the exact audio format the Dione is receiving at any given moment.

Devialet sells distinctive-looking ‘Phantom’ remote controls you can buy as an option for the Dione, but most people will probably not feel the need.

Since there’s precious little negative to say about the Dione's sound, let’s get its main limitation out of the way first: its single-unit design doesn’t conjure up any real sense of rear channel sound. It does produce plenty of room-filling forward impact, so you still feel involved in a good film mix, but that immersion doesn’t extend to the accurate placement of a multi-channel mix’s rear channel elements.

This, though, is pretty much inevitable with a single bar solution; it’s not as if the Dione is somehow a failure in this regard by single-unit standards. It’s really just a compromise anyone who wants the tidiness of a single-unit soundbar solution needs to accept.

With that formality out of the way, let’s move swiftly on to why the Devialet Dione rocks, starting with the fact that its bass performance is ridiculous. The presence, responsiveness, clarity and raw depth of its low frequency sound is arguably the best we’ve heard from a single-bar solution. The Dione even manages to make the bass sound non-directional, as you would expect to hear with systems that use external subwoofer units.

The bass doesn’t succumb to buzzing, drop out or crackling under even the most extreme assault from notoriously bass-heavy movies, either. And despite how rich and involved the bass sounds, it never overwhelms the rest of the mix.

It should be said that the Dione’s stellar bass doesn’t really start to sing unless you’ve got the volume turned up pretty high. But running a good soundbar loud is just common sense so far as we’re concerned.

The fact that the Dione’s monster bass doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the soundstage is a testament to the quality of its other drivers. The Orb center channel is particularly striking. Concerns that it might be too small to keep up with the other speakers prove unfounded, as it manages to simultaneously lock clean, typically convincing dialog to the onscreen action while also spreading more ambient center channel effects wide enough to ensure that they join in convincingly with its left and right channel information.

The Orb lifts the dialog slightly too, to place it on the screen where the pictures it's accompanying reside, and provides a great sense of precision with other placement effects too.

The left and right speakers and front side speakers both expand the soundstage a serious distance to left and right, while also pushing things forward enough to give you a sense of effects coming from the side of you. All of these channels link together seamlessly, and all of the effects they create, be they ambient, specific placement or transitional, are handled with conviction and accuracy.


The Dione’s sound stage isn’t restricted to a horizontal dimension, either. The upfiring speakers are powerful and focussed enough – regardless of whether you’re using the soundbar on a desktop or a wall – to create a genuine sense of height to a Dolby Atmos mix. What’s more, even though there are only two up-firing speakers (as usual with Dolby Atmos soundbars) these speakers manage to deliver a surprisingly wide splay to their height effects, avoiding any ‘funnelling’ effects.


It’s important to state here that during our tests, the Devialet Dione’s performance was transformed in terms of how well all of its various elements harmonized together by running its built-in calibration system.

The Dione has plenty of power to go with its precision, enabling the sound to fill your room and give you a genuinely cinematic experience with film soundtracks. Yet even towards the top of its volume potential the sound stage retains its balance, poise and clarity, rather than starting to sound forced or brittle.

The only exceptions to this are that the Orb can sound a touch thin with exceptionally shrill sounds, and occasionally gunfire, punches and such like can land slightly softly if they’re part of a very dense soundtrack moment.


As hoped, while the Dione does much better with film soundtracks than the vast majority of single-unit soundbars, it also transforms into a superb music player.


Running it in its Music mode, which preserves the original (typically stereo) channel count of the music you’re listening to, music of all types sounds authentic, detailed, rich, warm and best of all staged with a true hi-fi sensibility and musicality. There’s none of the vulgarity, lack of cohesion and excessive, forced dynamism that you quite commonly get with soundbars that excel with film soundtracks.

Devialet’s SPACE mode is an interesting option for music, though not consistent enough to class as an unqualified success. Relatively sparse tracks, especially if they’re heavy on bass, can benefit quite convincingly from the extra sense of scale and dynamic range the SPACE mode introduces as it adds an extra sense of sophistication to such tracks without the results sounding forced or incoherent.

With denser, heavily produced pop, layered guitar tracks or songs headed up by dominant vocals, though, the SPACE mode can become unnatural and awkward. But if you’re finding that happening with a particular song or album, you can simply set the Dione to its consistently lovely performance in Music mode.

The Devialet Dione’s design is a one off in multiple ways. For starters, there’s the appearance at its heart of a perfect sphere nestled within a dramatic but elegantly crafted ‘trough’. We’ve never seen a center channel speaker like this before.

What’s more, as discussed earlier the ‘Orb’ center speaker can uniquely be rotated round in its robust mount so that it can adapt its output to either wall or desktop mounting.

Its build quality is robust to say the least, and its finish is a lovely combination of smooth, matt black and felt speaker covers. The soundbar looks cool with the speaker covers removed too, if you don’t have potential driver-poking children’s fingers to worry about.

There’s a cute roster of touch-sensitive buttons on the Dione’s top/front, and the height/depth is impressively slim for such a powerful performer. A fact that really emphasises the quality of the system’s driver design.

Full dimensions are 1200 x 77 x 165mm / 47.2 x 3 x 6.5 inches (w x h x d) when using it in its desktop configuration (obviously you need to flip the height and depth measurements when wall hanging). That's still quite a lot more volume than the Sonos Arc… or almost any other soundbar, admittedly. For the sound it puts out, it's pretty compact, but you should still make sure you have the space on your TV stand.

The Devialet Dione is very much at the premium end of the single-unit soundbar market. The innovations it introduces to deliver the maximum audio impact and design flexibility out of its impressively well built and compact form, though, immediately start to justify its price. And that justification continues with its sound quality, as it combines an outstandingly detailed and powerful film soundtrack performance with a lovely blend of power and staging for stereo music.

It may not be a bargain overall, but wouldn't argue it's not value for money for those who want its mix of compactness and audio power.

If this Devialet Dione review made you think that you’re more interested in a full surround sound Dolby Atmos experience than you are in keeping speaker clutter to a minimum, Samsung’s outstanding Q990B soundbar system delivers an external sub, wireless rears and a genuine 11.1.4 channel count for a lot less than the Dione. Though while the Samsung is fantastic for films, it’s not as assured with music.

Should I buy the Devialet Dione?
If you want a single-unit soundbar rather than the clutter of a system with multiple separate speakers, the Devialet Dione is absolutely up there with the best. In fact, it’s arguably a uniquely good option for anyone looking for a wall hanging option – and it’s definitely a uniquely good option for anyone looking for a soundbar that may need to switch between vertical and horizontal stances from time to time.

The Dione is also one of an actually pretty small group of soundbars that excels with music as much as movies, if you want a top-class all-rounder.

The only reason not to buy a Dione – assuming you’re able to afford one – is if you want a true surround sound system with included rear speakers, or perhaps if you simply need HDMI passthrough, or are hardcore for DTS:X. But we'd encourage most people not to be put off by those omissions.
Buy it if…

You want huge home theater sound from a single box
Don't want to wrestle with rear speakers and a subwoofer? This thing is like an IMAX sound system when through a shrink ray, into a single plug-and-play box.

You want to play music as well as movies
The Dione manages to deliver both a cinematic sensibility with films and a hi-fi sensibility with music. Such sound quality flexibility is rare in the soundbar world.

You want to wall mount your soundbar
While it works superbly in a regular desktop configuration, its innovative design, with the rotating ‘Orb’ center speaker, makes it arguably uniquely effective as a wall-hanging soundbar.

Don't buy if…
You're on a budget
Costing as much as a pretty high-end TV, the Dione is very much a premium product that’s far removed from even the rich mid-range, let alone the more budget end. If you can take a separate subwoofer, you can get excellent sound for half the price.

You want a full surround-sound experience
As usual with a single-unit soundbar, you only really get to experience the front half of surround sound movie and music mixes.


John Archer

16.7.22

Philippe Halsman: American Portrait Photographer to the Stars


Philippe Halsman was born in Riga, Latvia, on May 2, 1906. He discovered an old view camera in the family attic when he was fifteen, bought some glass plates, and started making photographs. Like many other photographers, when he first saw that image appearing in the darkroom tray, it was a life-changing moment, and he knew what he was going to be doing with his life.
He became the family photographer and in addition to family vacations and holidays, he spent his time and money photographing friends and friends of friends.

His sister moved to Paris to study and married a Frenchman. Attending their wedding, he fell in love with Paris and decided to move there to continue working on his engineering degree. He was far more interested in art and literature than he was in technology and mechanics, so after he graduated, he announced that he was a professional photographer. He bought a photoflood lamp and a used enlarger to go with his old view camera and launched his career.

He soon became well-known in Paris for his creative and strong portraits of actors, writers, and musicians. He married his apprentice, Yvonne Moser. Soon Philippe and Yvonne Halsman became a famous photography team in pre-war Paris. He bought another floodlamp, a light stand, and a Zeiss Tessar lens. The ultra-sharp images and creative two-light setups became his signature.

Visually Striking Images Meld Photography andDigital Art




A self-portrait by Philippe Halsman.
Halsman Camera

Halsman soon realized that in the seconds that he lost loading the film holder and pulling the dark slide, he had missed the decisive moment of a photograph. This caused him to design a 9×12 cm twin-lens reflex. There were a number of TLR cameras that he designed and had built or sold as “The Halsman” camera, most notably 4×5 TLRs.

“The camera I have constructed for myself is a very important part of my technique,” Halsman once said. “My head is covered by the focusing cloth, I am looking at the subject through the lens. From the sitter’s point of view, the camera’s lifeless mechanism suddenly becomes almost alive.


“Later, in the darkroom I sometimes get a new idea. The creative process doesn’t stop with the taking of the picture, it continues also with the making of the print — because by changing the tonal values you can change the mood or emphasize the statement you originally intended in the studio.”

He also used Hasselblads, Rolleiflexs, and other twin lens reflex and single-lens reflex cameras. He wanted to be able to be continually seeing the subject through the viewfinder as he fired the shutter.
World War II

When the war started, he was able to send his wife and first-born daughter Irene to the United States. When the Germans overran Paris, he fled south with many other Parisians to Marseille. There, he found that he would not be permitted to go to the U.S. because he had a Latvian passport. The U.S. allowed only eighteen Latvians per year to enter the country and there was a seven-year wait. Because he was acquainted with Albert Einstein, he asked his wife to contact Einstein to see if he could help. Einstein did indeed help and Halsman was soon on his way to New York.


Albert Einstein. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Halsman arrived in New York on November 10, 1940. Even though he was a famous photographer in France, he was unknown in New York. He spoke five languages, but English was not one of them, so he was at a big disadvantage. His breakthrough came when his photograph of an aspiring model named Connie Ford was picked up by the beauty company Elizabeth Arden and used for a lipstick ad. The photo won The Art Directors Medal, and his career took off in America.
Salvador Dali

Halsman met Salvador Dali in the early 1940s and they became lifelong friends. Over the years Halsman photographed Dali many times.

Spanish painter Salvador Dali. Photo by Philippe Halsman.


One of the most famous images Halsman made of Dali was Dali Atomicus in 1948 — the photograph with the cats, water, and a chair.

Dali Atomicus. 1948. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Hearing Halsman describe this photo shoot in person was hilarious. In the mid-1970s, the local college in my town held a series of lectures called “The Masters of Photography.” They invited several famous photographers of the day to speak at the monthly public event. I attended all of the events and was able to meet many of the most famous 20th-century photographers. The evening with Philippe Halsman was one of my favorites.

He described throwing the water in the air while his wife held the chair his sister Liouba and daughters were the “cat wranglers.” It took 26 shots to get this image. That meant 26 times wiping up the floor, 26 throws, and 26 times catching the cats.

The original, unretouched version of Dali Atomicus in which the support strings are still visible. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Jump Book

Early in his career, he got in the habit of asking his portrait subjects to jump. This was usually the last photo of the session. Over the years he made hundreds of images of famous people jumping that he published in a series of books called The Jump Book.


Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

“Starting in the early 1950s I asked every famous or important person I photographed to jump for me,” Halsman once said. “I was motivated by a genuine curiosity. After all, life has taught us to control and disguise our facial expressions, but it has not taught us to control our jumps.

“I wanted to see famous people reveal in a jump their ambition or their lack of it, their self-importance or their insecurity, and many other traits.”

Using jumping as a pose to gain insight into his subjects’ psyche was a psychological tool the Halsman termed Jumpology.

Philippe Halsman jumping with Marilyn Monroe. Photo by Philippe Halsman.
Life Magazine

A fashion story about ladies’ hats led to a Life magazine cover. He soon was shooting portraits for Life magazine. In the post-war era, having a photograph on the cover of Life magazine was the highest achievement a photographer could have. Halsman eventually had 101 Life covers, more than any other photographer. The 100th cover was of Johnny Carson in 1970, and Life published an inset featuring a self-portrait of Philippe and Yvonne with the title “The King of Covers Shoots his 100th.” That portrait of the duo was actually the photograph that the Halsmans made for their 1969 Christmas card.


Humphrey Bogart. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Marilyn Monroe. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

John F. Kennedy. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Audrey Hepburn. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

Louis Armstrong. Photo by Philippe Halsman.

In Halsman’s description of his work, he said, “It is important to remember that a portrait sitting is an extremely artificial situation. Very few people are able to lose their self-consciousness immediately and behave in front of the camera as though it were not there. In almost all cases the photographer has to help the subject reveal himself. In many sittings I have felt that what I said to the subject was more important than what I did with my camera and my lights.

“My great interest in life has been people. A human being changes continuously throughout life. His thoughts and moods change, his expressions and even his features change. And here we come to the crucial problem of portraiture. If the likeness of a human being consists of an infinite number of different images, which one of these images should we try to capture? For me, the answer has always been, the image which reveals most completely both the exterior and the interior of the subject.”

“Such a picture is called a portrait. A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.”


Philippe Halsman died in New York City on June 25, 1979, at the age of 73 after a brief illness.

Much of the information for this article was from the book, Halsman Portraits by Yvonne Halsman.

11.7.22

Karlovy Vary Festival 2022


Globe for Geoffrey Rush, KVIFF President’s Awards for Benicio Del Toro and Bolek Polívka

Stars on the red carpet during the end of the Karlovy Vary Festival 

Just like the opening night, the end of the 56th International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary started atypically. First, the moderator Marek Eben pointed out that the opening show will include stroboscopic lights and pyrotechnic effects, which especially warmed up the audience in the first rows, after which he repeatedly called: "Please turn on your mobile phones and take video and audio recordings." A visual-dance show followed. from the workshop of the Caban brothers.

Czech actor Boleslav Polívka appeared on stage as the first of the three honorary award winners. "He didn't get it because we are friends," said festival president Jiří Bartoška in the cut of Polivkové roli. "Dad was a volunteer and he would have been happy about it. He would consider me the pride of Vizovice volunteers," said Polívka with the Festival President's Award. "I'm touched and I'm happy," he added.

Benicio del Toro receives the Festival President's Award
The actor further added that we are close to a sovereign state that has been defending itself against aggression for five months: "The Karlovy Vary Festival showed solidarity with Ukraine by giving space to projects from the Odessa festival, which is why it is an honor for me to receive the Karlovy Vary Award."

Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush won the Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. "I'm just as excited as I was when I sat in the theater for the first time at the age of six," said the deeply moved actor.

I wanted to be like Polivka. I'll probably meet him here, admitted Rush, moved

First he danced and then read a prepared speech, which he began in Czech: "Thank you to everyone in the Czech Republic, it's a great honor. And also a good evening, Then he continued in English and mentioned the Black Theater of Jiří Srnec, the playwrights of the Čapk brothers, the work of Miloš Forman, the work of Bolek Polívek and Boris Hybner directed by Ctibor Turba. "The show was absolutely amazing. Bolku, you were my male muse. I wanted to be like you!” Rush said.

He continued to mention Czech traces when he remembered his first international work, i.e. the filming of Les Miserables in Barrandov. He also mentioned Václav Havel and the fact that a playwright became one of the world leaders. "I appreciate the fact that my imagination could be so often and so strongly inspired by my experiences in the Czech Republic," he concluded his speech, after which the entire hall stood up. Rush sang to applause.

 
United Photo Press
António Cossa

5.7.22

Teen Photographer Captures Incredible Moon Photo with His Phone


18-year-old Vijay Suddala created a stunning composite image of the moon from his home in southern India with just a $150 telescope and his smartphone.

The teenager used an Orion Skyscanner 100mm telescope, Svbony Barlow lens, 10mm eyepiece, and a smartphone adapter along with his Samsung Galaxy M21 to capture the celestial image.

Speaking to PetaPixel, Suddala explains through step-by-step how he created his impressive HDR image using four images.

“Get your telescope aligned with the smartphone’s camera lens using a smartphone adapter. You’ll see a perfect circle on the smartphone’s camera view and you can use a distant object to check your focus,” explains Suddala.

“Point to the moon and snap pictures making sure it’s not overexposed. You can use ProCam X mobile application to change the ISO and shutter speed of your phone. Find a setting that best suits your smartphone.”


Orion Skyscanner 100mm telescope


Suddala then captures the upper, middle, and lower parts of the moon to make the whole image sharp, and leaves a common area between all of the moon shots. Finally, he captures an overexposed photo of the moon.

“Once you get three or five single shots of the various parts of the moon you get them into a software called ‘Microsoft ICE.’ What it does is stitch them according to the common areas and get a complete image of the moon,” says Suddala.

“I get the stitch into Photoshop and the first thing I do is apply auto-color, noise reduction of a factor of 8, unsharp mask until you feel the sharpness is sufficient or good looking. You can adjust the black areas of the moon with curves adjustment.”


The smartphone astrophotographer then adds another image of a full moon for the HDR look using guides in Photoshop to align the two images.

“Use the elliptical marquee tool to cut the moon into a perfect circle. You can remove the bad edges with chromatic aberration by applying gaussian blur,” adds Suddala.

“You should align the overexposed photo of the moon layer with that of the above layer perfectly. This will give a nice glow to the moon,” he continues.

“For the clouds, I capture them in the daytime and convert them into black and white by removing the saturation. Then I load the layer of the Moon with the glow and the black and white clouds in Photoshop and change the blending mode to ‘lighten.’ That’s it.”
Anyone Can Do It

Suddala, who does all his astrophotography work on a smartphone, believes anyone can take exceptional images of the moon, even on a budget, and credits YouTuber Alyn Wallace for learning the technique.

“I used to have a pair of binoculars when I was a kid which I bought from a store. I used to watch the moon and I also used it for terrestrial viewing.

“When I was 12, I bought a Celestron 50mm refractor and watched the rings of Saturn for the first time with it. I also used it for lunar observing, but I got bored with it after a year or so because the views were not that pleasing.

“Later, when I was 15, I bought the Orion Skyscanner 100mm tabletop reflector telescope. That’s the same telescope I used for making the composite.”

More of Suddala’s work can be seen on his Instagram.

Matt Growcoot

4.7.22

The hidden hell of the Maldives and the startup that is trying to save paradise


Paolo Facco

On many islands in the Maldives, rubbish is burned in the open. Making plastic-producing companies accountable can be a way to finance environmentally friendly waste management.

When we think of the Maldives, we imagine white sand beaches and clear waters. This, says Paolo Facco, is the picture that luxury resorts send to the world, but in the places where people actually live, garbage turns the paradise setting into a burning inferno.

"Resorts have a lot of money and manage to deal with their garbage (where this garbage ends up is another matter... but at least it's not visible). If we go to the capital Malé or other atolls where locals live, the situation is totally different: in On many islands the garbage is collected and simply burned close to the beach."

"It's a shame. The Maldives has an incredible ecosystem, it's a paradise", laments the representative of Adelphi, a think-and-do tank based in Berlin, Germany, which since March 2021 has been working together with the NGO.

Zero Waste Maldives to help the archipelago better manage waste, with support from the United Nations Development Programme. This startup's proposal is to implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy in the Maldives, which obliges "producers of plastic goods or companies that produce plastic packaging materials to assume responsibility for managing the waste generated by its products".

Speaking on the sidelines of the Oceans Conference, Paolo Facco says that the first step was to understand the local reality - how much plastic is generated and who are the decision makers. Now, this startup is working directly with the Maldives Government to define an action plan that makes the private sector responsible for managing the waste that the consumption of its products ends up producing. For example, "if a company places a PET bottle on the market, it has to pay a specific fee to ensure the collection, transport and recycling of that bottle."

"This concept has been applied for decades in several countries in Europe, in countries like Spain, Germany or France, but in developing countries it is difficult because they do not have a good waste management system", he explains. The Maldives has a particular characteristic that makes everything more difficult: it is an archipelago made up of more than a thousand islands, about 200 inhabited, so "the transport of materials between different islands is very expensive, since it is done in small boats and the price of gasoline is very high", explains Paolo Facco.

"We live in a plastic-based economy, where everything has to be packaged, and people can't deal with the garbage they produce," he recalls. Waste management is expensive and governments in many countries do not have enough money to implement sustainable systems, so holding the private sector to account can help.