BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Archive for February 21st, 2009

Pentax Announces Book to Benefit Childhood Cancer Research

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

GOLDEN, CO – PENTAX Imaging Company recently announced the PDML Photo Annual comprised of artwork from 59 photographers from around the world.  This book will benefit Childhood Cancer Research.

The project, led by Mark Roberts, an instructor in multimedia at Youngstown State University, with photographers Doug Brewer of Richmond, KY, Bill Robb of Regina, Canada, and Scott Loveless of Harrisburg, PA, brought together 59 artists in 15 countries to create this work. Their Internet-based approach facilitated coordination between the editors and dozens of contributors scattered around the world.

Photographers uploaded their images through a web site, where the editors could view them and exchange ideas and opinions through email. The book was assembled electronically and uploaded to an online publishing site where copies are printed whenever orders are placed through the web.

Mark Roberts’ partner, Dr. Lisa Teot of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is a pediatric pathologist and member of the Children’s Oncology Group, so they decided to use the book to raise money for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation’s CureSearch project (

The PDML had previously undertaken a project selling photography-oriented items online to raise money for the CureSearch project, a charity dedicated to raising private funds for childhood cancer research by the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest cooperative cancer research organization. (In addition, one of the photographers contributing to the project, Dr. Rick Womer of Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, is a COG member.)  100 percent of the profits from sales of this book will be donated to the National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

The PDML Photo Annual 2008-2009 is available now at For more information on the PDML Photo Annual, see or contact Mark Roberts at

Photo Critique 4: ‘Barb,’ by Jona M.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots. Today, we’re going to critique an image made by Jona, a former student of mine in Miami, Florida.

'Barb," by Jona M. of Miami, Florida

'Barb,' by Jona M. of Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Jona, as usual, when you put your mind to doing something, you do it well. This is a nice image and it’s good to see you flex your creativity. The staging on this shot is very nice and I’m glad you decided to do something a little more stylish – the hair over the eyes – than just a simple, head-on shot.
Again, this is a nice image due to its simplicity. You use a simple theme and let your creativity shine through without forcing the image.
Great job.

There are a few improvements I would like to suggest. First, I’m not sure I like the graduated background. I would like to see the image with a solid background, especially the blue. If you are going to use a graduated background, work on the vignetting in the right corners so the brown stays relatively consistent. Also, there’s some vignetting going on in the left corners with the blue. If the vignetting is intentional, perhaps a little more would make it look so, versus now, which makes it look accidental.

Second, you need to work with the model on facial expression. I’m not particularly happy with the way the lips formed in this image. Don’t be afraid to tell the model what message you would like to convey in the image so she knows what to do. Give her a theme and see what she comes up with.

Third, spend some time in Adobe Photoshop and clean up some of the fly-away hair. Then, retouch the skin so it’s a little more smooth and consistent. Finally, there’s a hotspot on the right shoulder that you should try to tone down just a little bit.

As usual, you did a great job overall. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing some more images from you.
Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Tilted Horizons: Maybe, Maybe Not

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Of all the techniques a photographer can use to create a sense of motion in an image, tilted horizons are one of the gray areas. Some people like them; some don’t. Some photos look good with a tilted horizon; some don’t.

Tilted horizons are created by holding the camera off-level. It’s a technique used to give a sense of motion or to throw the viewer off angle. It’s a technique that can easily backfire as some images just really don’t look good tilted no matter what you do.

Sometimes a tilted horizon really expresses a sense of motion. It's a good technique but not applicable to every shot you're going to make. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Sometimes a tilted horizon really expresses a sense of motion. It's a good technique but not applicable to every shot you're going to make. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

But don’t be afraid to try it. You never know when you’re gonna make an image that looks good.

Here’s some tips to follow when shooting a tilted horizon:

  • Don’t make the tilt look accidental. If you’re going to tilt the horizon, it has to demonstrate that you did it on purpose or else it looks like an “oops” moment.
  • Try different degrees of tilt. Move your camera different degrees between true horizontal and true vertical.
  • Make sure the angle you use compliments the directional movement you want to emphasize.
  • Don’t make the tilted image the only photo you take of the subject. The tilted horizon shot should be one of those “let’s see if this works” photos, and not “all of the eggs in one basket” photo.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm

A Movie to Own: ‘War Photographer’ By Christian Frei

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I am not a movie critique so I don’t know all of the standard rhetoric used in movie reviews. All I can tell you about “War Photographer,” a documentary by Christian Frei, is that if you have any interest in photography at all, you should own this film.

In this film, Frei documents the life of acclaimed war photographer James Nachtwey. Using classic interview techniques and special micro-cams attached to Nachtwey’s gear, we follow Nachtwey through conflicts in Indonesia, Kosovo and Palestine.

'War Photographer,' By Christian Frei. (Photo Credit: War Photographer Official Website)

'War Photographer,' By Christian Frei. (Photo Credit: War Photographer Official Website)

For those of you who have never heard of James Nachtwey, he is well worth your time researching. Images from the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights Movement inspired him to become a conflict photographer. In 1980, he moved to New York to begin his career as a freelance photojournalist. His first foreign assignment was to cover civil unrest in Northern Ireland in 1981. Since then, he has covered wars, conflicts and social issues.

I would like to present to you Nachtwey’s Credo in an effort to not only summarize his philosophical view on being a war photographer but also to summarize the intent of the film:

“For me, the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke a sense of humanity. If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war and if it is used well it can be a powerful ingredient in the antidote to war.

“In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of a war in order to communicate to the rest of the world what is happening, he is trying to negotiate for peace. Perhaps that is the reason why those in charge of perpetuating a war do not like to have photographers around.

“It has occurred to me that if everyone could be there just once to see for themselves what white phosphorous does to the face of a child or what unspeakable pain is caused by the impact of a single bullet or how a jagged piece of shrapnel can rip someone’s leg off – if everyone could be there to see for themselves the fear and the grief, just one time, then they would understand that nothing is worth letting things get to the point where that happens to even one person, let alone thousands.

“But everyone cannot be there, and that is why photographers go there – to show them, to reach out and grab them and make them stop what they are doing and pay attention to what is going on – to create pictures powerful enough to overcome the diluting effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference – to protest and by the strength of that protest to make others protest.

“The worst thing is to feel that as a photographer I am benefiting from someone else’s tragedy. This idea haunts me. It is something I have to reckon with every day because I know that if I ever allow genuine compassion to be overtaken by personal ambition I will have sold my soul. The stakes are simply too high for me to believe otherwise.

“I attempt to become as totally responsible to the subject as I possibly can.

“The act of being an outsider aiming a camera can be a violation of humanity. The only way I can justify my role is to have respect for the other person’s predicament. The extend to which I do that is the extent to which I become accepted by the other, and to that extent I can accept myself.”

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 2:59 am

Places to Go on the Web – Great Photo Sites Issue 2

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I love photography. Not only do I love to take photographs, I love to talk, teach, and explore photography. I also like to look at great photographs to get ideas on how I can be a better photographer.
If you have any interest in digital photography, then a visit to some of these sites is worth your time. Looking at great photos will help make your own photos better because you can get ideas, tips and see what and how others are photographing their subjects. As your cruise Cyberspace, spend a few minutes looking at these Websites:

David FitzSimmons: David FitzSimmons is a triple threat: He’s an accomplished photographer, writer, and university professor. His images have appeared on postcards and calendars and his photography and writing have been published in regional magazines such as Ohio Magazine and Natural Ohio as well as international publications such as Popular Photography & Imaging. FitzSimmons is currently at work on two books, Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and Vernal Pools (Kent State University Press, 2010) and Waterfalls of Ohio.

Joe DiMaggio: Joe DiMaggio has worked as a photographer for more than three decades and has been featured in publications such as “Time,” “Life,” “Sports Illustrated,” and “U.S. News and World Report.”
“Time Magazine” named his “Sports Illustrated,” cover, of Cooney vs. Holmes Best Picture of the Year. His talent earned him a coveted invitation to join the International Olympic Games Pool. His gift for advertising photography has netted him a list of Fortune 500 clients and prestigious advertising agencies.

In addition to his talents behind the camera, DiMaggio is also a gifted teacher. He’s been featured on ABC-TV’s “World of Photography” and has hosted episodes of ESPN’s “Canon Photo Safari” with celebrity guests and amateur photographers William Shatner and A.J. Langer. He has lectured to thousands of aspiring photographers in workshops around the world.

Steve Winter: A photographer for National Geographic is the life Steve Winter said he dreamed of as a child growing up in Indiana and a camera, a gift for his seventh birthday from his father, set his life’s ambition into action.

After graduating from the Academy of Art and University of San Francisco, Winter signed on as a photojournalist for Black Star Photo Agency. Since then, he has produced stories for GEO, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Natural History, Audubon, Business Week, Scientific American, and Stern, among other publications. In 1991, he began shooting for the National Geographic Society, where he has been a contract photographer for National Geographic magazine since 1995.

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 2:29 am