Archive for the 'documentary' Category

Aug 26 2015

Ten Years After Katrina

The story of this weekend will be looking back at the events and and the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the impact on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I was in France when the storm hit and was only remotely aware of the storm and the suffering at the time. We all have learned more since that time and a great way to review the coverage will be available at the Newseum, one of my new favorite places in Washington D.C.

If you can’t make it there you can view the web version of the exhibit and listen to an interview of the Director of Exhibit Development, Cathy Trost on Talk of the Nation. Times-Picayune photographer Ted Jackson also tells of his experience as one of the first responders to the developing crisis.

I was in New Orleans six months after Katrina and made a visit to the Lower Ninth Ward district, and was shocked at how much devastation was still present. The entire neighbor was mostly deserted and it was possible to wander into many of the homes to witness the destruction.

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This Wizard of Oz looking scene resulted from houses floating and then dropping

This lifting and dropping effect was present inside houses as well. I saw entire sofas and refrigerators that appeared to be inside a home that a giant picked up and shook like an 8-ball. Many of them looked as though the occupants walked away and never returned.

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This hat was either unmoved from the bedpost or was placed back there after the water receded.

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Outside the signs showed the extent of the destruction…

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and the toll on pets.

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Salvation will relay on forces beyond FEMA – even doing more than a “Heck of a job” this time.

Many people see that the Katrina destruction was the result of natural disaster. Not so says actor Harry Shearer. In his documentary, The Big Uneasy, Shearer says much of the destruction in New Orleans was man-made and preventable — and largely the fault of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The movie will be shown in theaters on Monday Aug, 30th across the country for one night only. Check the website for local listings.

Andrew Curtis of the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California headed a team that documented the slow progression of rebuilding the Lower 9th Ward. This video comparisons can be seen in the New York Times.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

One response so far

Jul 24 2011

An American with a camera in Paris

Watching the Tour de France 7 years ago inspired me to move to France – at least for a month. I highly recommend making your own move – temporary or not as well. While I was there I found the secret to family vacations. Leave a week early!

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There is only so long you can sit on the ground waiting for a waiter to pass by before you embarrass the family

A big challenge for any photographer on a family vacation is carving out enough time to do some serious photography. Capturing a compelling image often involves doing activities that are either boring, dangerous, or embarrassing to anyone else not taking the photo. On most family trips I either put the camera away or lug it around hoping for an above average snapshot.

The schedule for a family vacation is just different than doing serious shooting. Sunset, a prime-time to shoot is most often taken up by checking into the hotel or eating dinner. Breaking out for a sunrise excursion is a must for places like Monument Valley, but these opportunities are few and far in-between.

For this year’s trip to Paris I came up with a different solution. I left a week early.

I highly recommend this choice. While my family is tolerant of me carrying a camera and three lenses through the streets, they don’t always appreciate me stalking an interesting person in a Metro station or searching for the perfect café chair.

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In the Metro, I was spying on this group of rowdy, drunken guys acting out when this charming young girl sat down and mesmerized the group with her charms

On a recent weekend excursion closer to home, I attempted to share my passion with Max, my 14 year-old stepson. I invited him on a sunrise journey into Joshua Tree National Park. After my tenth stop to find the perfect light on the perfect Joshua Tree, Max screamed with hungry exhaustion: “It’s a cactus! They all look alike. Just shoot it and let’s go eat breakfast!”

I appreciated the wisdom of my early departure on my second day in Paris. I walked into the Musée d’Orsay and was mesmerized by its Great Clock, the centerpiece of the railroad station that was converted into a modern art museum.

At one end of the arched enclosure is a huge beautiful clock backed by frosted glass. Behind the glass are multiple stories of walkways traversed by patrons going from one gallery to the next. I was fascinated by the silhouettes created behind the clock as people walked by. I decided that I wanted to capture someone in the compositionally correct location walking close enough to the glass to cast a distinct silhouette.

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The Great Clock in the Musée d'Orsay. If you hold your breath until you turn blue in a modern art museum does that make you a Picasso?

As I was holding my breath trying to balance a telephoto lens on the railing of the Orsay I could imagine Max complaining, “It’s a clock. Let’s go.” Since this was my first week, I was on my own and could indulge my multiple photographer paranoia’s. Did I have the clock in focus? Can I hold the camera steady enough to get a sharp exposure, and can I get my silhouetted person close enough to the glass? Other tourists walking by either made a quick frame of the clock or had someone stand at the railing for a snapshot. The flash went off and they moved on – or perhaps thought – “It’s a clock, let’s go see the Monet’s”.

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After over 100 exposures I finally captured one frame with a clean, in-focus profile of a waitress walking by the “backwards” clock in the Orsay museum cafe

What surprised me most on the trip was how capricious it was to get a great shot of famous landmarks. My guidebooks never reported any seasonal or construction warnings.

My first view of Notre-Dame Cathedral revealed scaffolding around one of the towers. This ruled out the main facade of the church.  And at the Louvre, the length of the summer day eliminated my dream of a nighttime shot of the I. M. Pei designed pyramid. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph the architect and admired him both as a person and an artist. My heart was set on going to the Louvre in the evening to see the glowing pyramid inside the triangle shaped reflecting pools.

To my great disappointment, I discovered that the pools had been drained for some maintenance issue. I never did understand why. Although I found it possible to navigate the city and feed myself with a limited English/French pidgin language skills  - a greater understand wes required to discover  when the pools would once again reflect the pyramid.

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The joy of the Louvre pyramid before discovering that it would not be lit at night

My other lighting mystery happened with another visual treat of Paris – the Art Nouveau styled Metropolitan (subway) stations. I had my eye on the vine shaped entry at the Blanche station that almost perfectly framed the Moulin Rouge. When I scouted the shot at 4 p.m., the two flower-shaped lights were glowing like an alien’s eyes. But when I returned at dusk with my tripod, the lights were off. This time though I found a way to make the lights work. More about this later…

Embracing change and being flexible, is all part of traveling to a new land. But a little planning also comes in handy. I start with travel guidebooks.

For visual scouting I used the DK Eyewitness Paris Guide. The book is full of photos that help me plot the highlights and serve as a competitive challenge. My favorite planning book and constant traveling companion was the Rick Steves’ Paris travel guide. The DK book has small bits of information about every highlight in the city, while Steves tells you in detail the best places to visit and how to get the most out of your vacation. Steves also has some wonderful, free audio guides for your trip as well.

My first trip to Paris had a dual agenda. Be a tourist, and take great photos that would pay for the trip. Soon it became apparent that these goals were synergistic. What I wanted to see as a tourist were the same places that most people wanted to see as well. I could be my own one-man market research survey.

The game is to go the same spots that everyone else has covered and find a fresh – and ideally better way to shoot the location. This sounds easier in theory than practice. My first response is usually ”this looks like a postcard.” That’s a bad thing since most postcards are uninspiring. The trick is to go the spot and hope that your eye naturally does a better job of arranging the pieces than those that came before. And if inspiration doesn’t show up right away, you push yourself to find a new viewpoint. Fortunately, I’m quite good at discovering new views of “the most photographed places“.

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Placing the Invalides dome in just the right location required balancing on the 16-inch ledge of the Pont Alexandre III and waiting for a tour boat spotlights to illuminate the bridge details

In Paris this could mean finding the best lampposts on the best bridge over the Seine and for once getting the lucky break of finding a construction zone that allows you to safely stand in the middle of the street. Or discovering that the best view of the Invalides Dome involves standing on a 16 inch ledge of that same bridge to get the view that you think hasn’t been shot before. The four-story fall down to the river made me question the sanity of this pursuit. But I balanced there for 45 minutes anyway.

Other shots require standing in the middle of the street without the safety of construction barriers. I had seen a photo of a line of waiting taxis on the Champs Elysées near the Arc dé Triumph. I was tired after my ledge-balancing act, but it was in the neighborhood so I wanted to take a look.

My first shots were bad copies of a postcard photo, but as I continued to try different angles, the line of cabs became longer. They were now forced to double-park into the second lane of traffic. This was the break I needed. I was able to move out from the curb and stand in front of the second lane of taxis. This allowed me to get a Taxi Parisien sign right besides the Arc dé Triumph.

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Double-parked taxis on the Champs Elysées were the ticket

What allowed me to see what others have not? Was the line of taxis not as long for other photographers, or was I just crazy enough to stand in front of the taxis? It’s hard to tell. What’s clear is even when you think it has all been shot before, it is possible to fight through the fatigue to make a classic shot of a familiar landmark.

I’m constantly amazed at the successful export of what I call the “Japanese Tourist Photo” (JTP). The classic version is the husband taking a snapshot of his wife or family in front of anything that resembles a landmark. Point and shoot cameras are perfectly designed (and in my opinion – only good) for this “I was here” memento. Now that most travelers have digital and cell phones cameras the JTP is even more popular. Often people seem to be more interested in seeing photo of themselves in front Eiffel Tower than they are in viewing the tower itself.

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Look at me. I saw these Monets

The most bizarre variation of this can be found at art museums. Monet’s water lilies and a self-portrait of Van Gough were not works of art to be admired and contemplated. They are now just one more background location for the mug-shot book.

I’m personally appalled by the affront to the dignity of the museum and artist, and at the same time utterly fascinated by the act. The documentary photographer in me doesn’t judge the morals he just yearns to record the act.  I understand that this only doubles the insult, but it can make an interesting picture.

The challenge to my values came when a family friend asked me to do a JTP of her with her son in front of the Mona Lisa. Should I break out my lecture that I just don’t do that kind of photo, or snap and move on? I decided I was on vacation and snapped.

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Family friends in front of the Mona Lisa after I took their JTP

A bigger question that a travel photography in the digital age has to ask is – how much manipulation can I do, and how much am I willing to do? The street artists selling their wares along the Seine all move the Parisian landmarks around to fit their composition needs. Standing on what would be the spot that Maurice Utrillo painted his famous view of the Sacré-Cœur through Montmartre area shops reveiled that he moved the church’s dome over to the right. If painters can move landmarks around to meet his compositional needs, is it fair for me to do the same?

Removing a street-sign or a stray lamppost is now just part of my workflow. It allows me to have some more flexibility in my compositions. I can now move a little more to the right and have less distortion on the Eiffel Tower less if I clean up the tree branch later. With two photos in Paris I did a little more retouching than usual.

The moon below, next to the Pont Alexandre III streetlamp has been added to the photo. I have never done a similar moonrise trick before. I have seen and laughed at fake, overly large moon insertions before, and never imagined myself doing such manipulation. Yet, just ten minutes before, the moon was in that location. Should I be penalized because it took so long for the street lights to come on? I decided that it was fair to shoot the moon and insert it later.

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Pont Alexandre III lamppost view that was available from my favorite construction zone

How far photographers go with this trend is a matter of taste, morals and skill. My retouching skills are limited, but I knew enough to shoot all of the pieces that were needed to blend together an idealized illustration of how the Moulin Rouge could look through the Metropolitain arch.

After returning, I teamed up with my Photoshop artist friend Dennis Dunbar. He works in the fantasy world of creating movie posters and had the talent to blend multiple images together for a photo-realistic-impression of the landmark. I suspect that most people will just assume that I just used a special lens, until another serious photographer attempts to find the spot and discovers that I have moved the Metro sign. (A more detailed story of the composition is available in a previous post.)

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The Art Nouveau Metro entrance was in the wrong place - so I moved it

Coming to Paris for the first time allows me to see the iconic details of the city that become familiar to the locals. Two elements that fascinated me were the sidewalk cafes and the cobblestone streets. Since most of my images only require a little digital darkroom work, I’m normally most excited at the time of capture. It’s rare when an image grows on me later. But I had two exceptions to the rule.

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After five frames I gave up. It was only after seeing others photos of Parisian cafes did I appreciate what I captured

These backlit red wicker chairs and tables was my first surprise. This photo should have been easy to find. There were great cafés on seemingly every corner, and in August when half of the city goes on vacation, restaurants stack their chairs inside their windows in amazing patterns indicating that they were closed. At the time though, I just didn’t feel that I captured the essence of the Parisian way of dining. Only after I looked at what others had done with the subject did I appreciate what was achieved.

This cobblestone street initially disappointed me as well. In my mind I wanted someone carrying a baguette across the street. I waited at my favorite corner as the Montmartre locals walked by and stalked patrons at my corner bakery to no avail. Fortunately the pigeon caught my eye as I was waiting for my bread.

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I was thinking cobblestones and baguette before the pigeon took me on a flight of gray

Both of these grew on me during the processing of the files and after comparing them to other currently available images of the subject matter. They are now my quiet favorites from the trip. Letting go of my expectations allowed me to accept these images – and looking back I can see how this is the secret to traveling to a new country.

Giving up expecting that the French should speak English, and accepting that there will be construction are both good starts. And if your plans don’t work out, it’s always possible to shoot somewhere else – or use one of those café chairs to sit down and have a glass of wine.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

11 responses so far

May 26 2011

Off to The Indy 500

Update: Before the street race in Baltimore Charlie Kimball talked with New York Times Wheels writer Roy Furchott about how he drives 200 MPH without having a blood sugar of 200.  

I’m off to the Indy 500 tomorrow to view to 100th Anniversary of the race and to see Charlie Kimball be the first driver with type 1 diabetes to compete in the race. I’ve written about being with him at races before and now you get to hear from him directly in this interview that was conducted at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April.

Charlie talks about how he learned to continue his racing career after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He is interviewed by my wife and his doctor – Anne Peters, the Director of the USC Clinical Diabetes Programs. Together they have worked out a system for Charlie to manage his diabetes while racing.

Additionally, Charlie reveals his emotions when he was first diagnoses with diabetes. He shares how he learned about his condition from other patients and bloggers, plus offers advice for other doctors about how they could work with their own patient athletes.

If you are an athlete with diabetes or help to treat one you will want to view Anne’s extended video on Medscape about how she works with Charlie to manage his blood sugar while racing. (Free registration required).

To get in the mood for the race watch Charlie go for the win in last year’s Indy Lights race at Indianapolis last year. This shows that he is excels on oval tracks as well as road courses.

As an added bonus read about how Charlie is the 2nd Kimball to make history at Indy. His father Gordon was the chief designer engineer of Pat Patrick cars that won the Indy 500 in 1981, ’82 and ’84. He and wife Nancy also get credit for raising a son they can be proud of on and off the track.

(A huge thanks go out to my friend John McBride who had the skill, wisdom and patience to turn my stills and video into a professional presentation.)

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

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@HarmelPhoto

@MarkHarmel

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Dec 17 2010

The Insulin Powered Indy Car

UPDATE: Charlie Kimball signed with championship winning IndyCar team Chip Ganassi Racing. “Charlie Kimball orchestrated one of the biggest rookie IndyCar driver signings in recent history”, says Speed’s Marshall Pruett.

There are those that say that the reason fans watch car races is to see the crashes. I was always more interested in the racing – and now that I know a driver I certainly didn’t like to see Charlie Kimball upside down on the track like he was at Chicagoland Speedway last week.

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This was a crash I didn’t want to see

Fortunately the cars are built with a strong driver’s cockpit and Charlie walked away with only memories of a “wild ride down the backstretch” and some soreness. (You can see the wild ride just before the 3 minute mark.)

A better memory is watching Charlie celebrate his second place finish in Sonoma the previous week.  It was an exciting race, one that we thought could have been his first Indy Lights victory.

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Better to see Charlie Kimball celebrating his second place finish than upside down

The Sonoma track is a wonderful winding road course with elevation changes that I was able to experience first hand in a pace car ride piloted by Charlie where he alternated between rocketing through the turns and turning his head to chat with passengers in the back seat. We knew we were in for a ride as we entered the car and Charlie told us not to worry about the odd burnt brake smell emanating from the Honda Accord.

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Charlie with his full attention on the racetrack

This pace car ride was only part of a dream weekend in Sonoma that started with dinner at the Andretti winery. We sat one table over from the owner, legendary driver Mario Andretti as well as having the opportunity to chat with team owner Michael Andretti. An added bonus was the front row seat to the introduction of all the Andretti Autosport drivers that include Michael’s son Marco, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Charlie’s Indy Lights teammate Martin Plowman.

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One of the few times my wife wasn’t grabbing Charlie’s continuous glucose monitor

I got this combination up close and back-stage view to world of racing when my wife Anne Peters became Charlie’s diabetes doctor (more of the back story in a previous post). This opened up the winery dinner, pace-car ride, plus viewing the races from a mix of the hillside Andretti team hospitality compound and down in the pits. A bonus is socializing with the Kimball family, team sponsors and getting special tours explaining the similarities and differences of the Indy Lights and Indy cars by team mechanics.

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Charlie Kimball is a spokesman for diabetes on and off the track

Amazingly much of this is possible because of Charlie developing type 1 diabetes three years ago. He is now a leading inspirational athlete that speaks at a number of diabetes events about how he controls his blood sugar during the race and generates press attention as the series travels from racing circuits across the country.

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The final good luck fist-bump before qualifying

In the end, once the novelty of a driver with type 1 diabetes wears off what will matter is how well Charlie does on the track. He is currently 3rd in the driver’s standings and is gunning to move up to a major-league Indy team next year.

Charlie finished 6th in Kentucky on Saturday and the final race is in Homestead, Fl on Oct. 2nd. The Indy Lights qualifying and races can be viewed on-line at http://www.indycar.com/fil/.

I know that I’m enjoying the ride.

To see how Charlie manages his diabetes you can watch this WGN report that was produced at the Chicago race that shows where he stows his glucose increasing orange juice and how his continuous glucose monitor works.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

On Twitter:

@HarmelPhoto

@MarkHarmel

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Oct 08 2010

The New Look of FedEx Office

Update: FedEx Office continue to evolve and is adding free Wi-Fi to many of their locations. This gives road warriors another location option to Starbucks to conduct business. Even before the free Wi-Fi I would use the FedEx locations on my portfolio trips as places to charge up and and park before my next appointment.

I made a trip to my local FedEx/Kinko’s shop back in the summer and found a new sign on the door. Shortly after I received a call from a client asking for an estimate to do a series of photos at that same shop! It turned out that this was one of the first FedEx/Kinko’s outlets that would be transformed into a FedEx Office location.

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Delivery driver at one of the first FedEx Office locations

After landing the job it was so convenient to have one of the first locations converted down the street from me in Manhattan Beach. This made it easy to check the construction progress and to send back update snapshots to the art director back in Minnesota. I could also combine early morning airport runs to LAX with my morning coffee to precisely plot the timing and effect of the sunrise.

The client remembered me from a shoot I did for her way back in the film days, but we had never met. One month earlier, I did get to meet with the producer, who ventured out early to check out the progress of the transition. This helped to build rapport when I met the rest of the production team the day before the shoot.

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Scouting confirmed that there would be great Northern light mid-day

I knew that we had a busy shoot day planned and proposed doing a quick walk-though of the long shot list. This was designed to get a feel for the style of photo that the art director wanted and to get the simple blocking down. This way we could have a starting point that I could refine and light the next day. We used the basic back of the camera digital preview method. I would do option A, B and C and the art director would pick one, or suggest something else. I saved the favorites and printed out a reference contact sheet for the team.

I originally thought of these as simple starting sketches that would be improved the next day, but they created more of an expectation then I planned. Many times I ended up copying the scouting shot from the previous day. Perhaps it’s a sign to trust my first instincts more when I’m free from the technical constraints of lighting and worrying about the background.

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The store was open for business the day of the shoot

We had cast models and had our crew of stylists, make-up artists and photo assistants moving around lights – but we were shooting this big production in a working store. If a customer had a lifetime of photos to copy (which happened) at the duplicating machine we changed our shot or location instead of asking her to move. Some of the employees were also available to serve as models and we often used them as they served their customers.

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Our footprint needed to be small

With the shop open for business we needed to have a light footprint. Instead of overpowering the store with strobes, I opted for using continuous light sources that I blended with the existing lights. We even had one of our packs on battery power to remove the risk of tripping on a power cord.

The clients were very happy with the results and the photos seeded a new photo library. Keep an eye out for these shots. They will be making their way into the FedEx Office print and web marketing materials. I know that I will never see my local FedEx Office shop in the same way ever again.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

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Sep 11 2010

pepperdine waves to a 9/11 memorial

Update 11/13/10: Some people have commented on shooting with an iPhone. I have a longer post on that subject that I wrote last Summer.

On an early morning drive up the coast this morning I ran into a sea of flags on the lawn of Pepperdine University in Malibu. It turned out to be a yearly tribute that the campus College Republicans present to honor those that lost their lives.

A sign on the site explains that the “exhibit displays one flag for each victim..including the flags from other nations died on that fateful day.”

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The Pepperdine Waves this morning was a sea of flags

For a camera I only had my iPhone 4 that now shoots high dynamic range or HDR photos. It works by the camera taking multiple exposures quickly and combining the light and dark frames into one photo. This can work well if the subject matter and camera remains still, or it can create this interesting effect when you have a sea of moving flags.

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A natural special effect created by the HDR feature

The display attracted a number of people stopping with their still and video cameras, and a roadside supporter.

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A Malibu postman shows his supoort for the memorial

Early morning bike riders are also a staple of the beach highway scene and a walk through the flag provided a training break for this rider.

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A rider walks through the flag display

After so much hype in the news about extremists yelling about the location of a community center and threats of burning a Koran, it was good to see a quiet reflection of a tragic day that truly honors the victims.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

5 responses so far

Jun 22 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth?

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A cluster of Mickey Mouse balloons are smiling at Disneyworld. What about the guests?

That famous Disney advertising line set expectations very high for a visit to Disneyworld – perhaps too high for most visits to the park. (I have the secret of visiting below.) With summer in full swing and many families looking for local vacations. Disney World could be a prime destination.

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In-flight entertainment with Dumbo The Flying Elephant

My agenda was different than most though. Visiting the park for me was an opportunity to do some street shooting and document a bit of Americana. When I’m in New York City or Paris I walk the streets looking for photos. In Orlando, I visit the parks.

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Even grown adults can relive youthful joy on the Mad Tea Party ride

So I wasn’t a normal visitor looking to enjoy the shows and experience the rides. I was there to document the experience. Part of that experience is the heat. This is Florida in the middle of summer. The temperature and humidity are both in the 90’s and there is lots of standing and walking in the sun. Most visitors to the park are there for a one-day visit and that can create a great deal of pressure to see everything.

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I love watching the interactions with the costumed characters. There is an unexpected mix of joy and fear

I didn’t have to navigate long lines. I could stop and rest whenever I wanted. And I didn’t have to negotiate with intricate family dynamics over what to see next or where to eat. Concerns about the special needs of Grandma or the toddler belonged to others. Too often these negotiations led to heated exchanges that were less than happy.

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There was more than normal family stress at work with this young rider

Later in the day I learned secret to visiting from a family that looked happy. They shared that they were staying in a Disney Hotel and had a multi-day pass. They would get up early and visit the park before the crowds and heat would build. They then ride the monorail back to their hotel and break for lunch, a nap and pool time for the kids.

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Take a break and return to the park for the evening firework show

After the afternoon shower, the heat and crowd dissipate and everyone is refreshed to dive back into the park and to have fun up to the evening fireworks show.

If you plan on visiting any of the parks give yourself enough time to do it in a way that reduces stress and creates that Disney happiness.

What are your secrets to visiting Disney World or amusement parks in general? Share them in the comment section below.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

5 responses so far

Feb 25 2010

documentary photograph & photoshop

Update: New York Time tech writer David Pogue raised the question of Photoshop and Photography: When is it Real? The subject came up when two winners in Popular Photography’s annual Reader’s Photos Contest had two winners that clearly were Photoshop compositions.

The question is when does manipulation take an image beyond a photograph? Next year the magazine handles the issue by having a separate category for Photoshop creations?

What do you think about that and the questions raised by my examples below?

One way that I describe the way I work is that I’m a documentary photographer that both knows how to find and see great light, and knows how to make it great when its not.

When I doing a commercial job part of the process is going into a real situation and making it look better. If that involves doing a head transplant from one frame to another or cleaning up a distracting background in Photoshop – that’s just part of the service that’s offered.

But what about when I head back out into the streets? What sort of alteration is fair game? Most serious journalistic publications only allow what could be traditionally done in a darkroom. Perhaps there is a vigorous discussion that is raging in the fine arts world about this issue that I’m not following.

What do you think is fair game from the two examples below and an earlier post about a Moulin Rouge photo?

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An altered documentary photo of an Upper Eastside socialite walking her poodle

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The grate was behind her foot and the sprinkler sign was removed

This Upper Eastside photo of a society women taking her poodle out for a walk was only slightly altered. The red sign above the fire-hose plug and the sidewalk grate were removed to cut down on the visual distraction. I personally only have a slight problem with this one. Would it be better if the alterations were indicated similar to what I did with these photos?

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A subway mime preparing for her performance

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One frame has the great reflection in the mirror.....and the other has the reaction of the passengers

The subway mime is more of a stretch. Instead of just cleaning up stray distractions this is a blend of two moments where the charm comes from actually being there and capturing the moment. I could say that I indeed captured the moment and the convergence just happened a different times. In my heart I feel its cheating. But is a much better photo as the combination than either one is alone.

What do you think? Where would you draw the line?

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

14 responses so far

Jan 14 2010

text to donate innovation

My interest in social innovation prompted me to notice a new fundraising development being used to help the victims of the Haitian earthquake. Mobile giving has played a huge role in massing many small donations to the relief cause. A promotion by the NFL Playoffs over the weekend produced stunning results. The current total reported now on Thursday morning is over $25 million dollars.

Now I gave money the old fashioned way. An email from the Red Cross arrived yesterday morning and I visited their website to make a donation. I’m sure that plenty of other donations came in through this method as well. I was surprised that this new mobile method sprung up seemingly over night. Wondering about when the cell phone system was established I found a plan that was set up after Hurricane Katrina by the Wireless Foundation in September of 2006. Called Text 2HELP, this system partnered with the American Red Cross.

The current system (via MSNBC) of mobile giving effort was organized by the mGive Foundation, as well as the Mobile Giving Foundation, which are coordinating with wireless carriers. In the Red Cross’ case, phone users can text the word “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10,” and when prompted, hit “YES” to confirm the donation.

The mGive Foundation tried the system in a Washington Nationals baseball game two years ago to generate funds for the Diabetes Care Complex, but the idea didn’t work well then, and the method only raised $190,000 in 2008 for the Red Cross to help with Hurricane Ike.

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The text to donate system was set-up after Hurricane Katrina

The difference this time has been credited to the endorsements from Secretary of State Clinton and the White House blog.

The text to donate system has been so effective at both generating funds for the rescue as well as mobilizing the community. Supporters donate, then turn around and spread the word to friends in their social networks. This cycle of giving and sharing sets up a system of social proof that will encourage others to do the same. People often want to help in disasters like Haiti and look for a tangible way to assist. The cell phone texting method is a quick and easy way to move their sympathy into action.

It’ll be interesting to see the studies of this system that will come out in the following months. I’m sure that other charitable groups and foundations are looking into the system now. Will, or should this be saved for the big disasters. Would you like to use this for everyday giving as well?

What do you think about this way of giving? Have you seen this method being used before or is this just the first massive use of the method? How would you like to see text to donate be used in the future?

For a collection of groups that are helping in the rescue and other ways to give – a page has been organized at the NPR site. You can go there for news updates and for links to the other relief groups.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

@MarkHarmel

4 responses so far

Dec 01 2009

how twitter led me to Lemonade

Update: The “Lemonade” movie premiered in Boston last night (Nov. 30th) and reports are coming in. The first is from the Boston Business Journal. The second from the Adrants blog. Edward Boches weighs in on “The sweetness of lemons”. Philip Johnson writes in Adweek about the ad industry rallying around one of their own.

New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth” interviews Erik

The Christian Science Monitor has a feature on how Erik Proulx job loss led him to make Lemonade.

The latest update (12/29/2009) is a segment on the CBS Evening News.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

I confess. I’m a Twitterer. I can blame it on this blog.

Once I started blogging I wondered if I was cultivating a tree that would one day simply fall in the woods without being heard. So I looked for ways to share my pictures and the behind the scenes stories. That prompted me to explore the world social marketing. Which led me to the Please Feed the Animals and the movie “Lemonade”.

The beginning is a bit mysterious. I started by following some writers for Ad Age which somehow led to following the Twitter stream of Erik Proulx. He’s a laid-off  advertising copywriter that created a support blog for the recently unemployed advertising professionals called Please Feed the Animals.

DavidBrush9 how twitter led me to Lemonade

Detail of make-up brushes (still from the video)

Erik’s Twitter stream mentioned that he was looking for good stories about life after being laid-off. He was collecting recollections about the initial trauma and the opportunities that were created by their new time and freedom. How ad people turned lemons into lemonade would become his documentary film.

When I discovered that Erik was filming in Los Angeles, I tweeted back, asking if I could help. My original thought was that I would shoot some stills that could be used to promote the film. But I had acquired a Canon 5D MKII camera – a hybrid still/high definition video camera and have been playing with the video capability. So shooting some video was also a possibility.

Kurtis how twitter led me to Lemonade

Kurtis Glade became a documentary filmmaker (still from the video)

Erik had progressed from shooting with his own little video camera to enlisting a top director and production team. But there were some scenes that needed to be shot before the production crew arrived in Los Angeles. I was enlisted to shoot a story was about a surfing camp that teaches kids and teens with Cystic Fibrosis how to surf as a form of therapy. Next there was a manicure session in a salon with a writer “that lost his job and changed his gender.”

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David Cohen lost his job and changed his gender

I was on my own shooting the surf camp and did a 50/50mix of stills and video. When director, Marc Colucci arrived, he wanted more video than stills for the manicure session with David Cohen.

The video shooting continued the next day where I ended up shooting second video camera during the more formal studio interview shoot. My role was to look for details and go for second angle close-ups of hands and faces that could be used to add variety and editing options. These video snips were mixed in with the interviews captured with a Red camera.

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Jeanne Schad became a coach (still from the video)

The resulting Lemonade film has generated a great deal of internet buzz. Promoted through Twitter and Facebook, the trailer now has over a 100,000 viewers and the final edit is close to completion.

You can follow the Twitter streams of the people mentioned by using their Twitter ID.

Erik Proulx  @eproulx,  David Cohen @identityTBD, Kurtis Glade @kurtisglade, Jeanne Schad @jeanneschad

There is much more to share about the Cystic Fibrosis surf camp that I’ll save for another post.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com
@MarkHarmel

7 responses so far

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