New Developments in Digital Photography: New York Times Article

The New York Times reported some interesting recent developments in digital photography.

So called “computational photography”, where the image is taken and controlled by the computer (if I have this right) is mostly being researched but it could make its way to consumers.

For example, MIT is has created a lens-less camera: it uses lasers to make an image of a room.

Interestingly to me, the future seems to point to merging cameras with computers. According the article:

    Shree K. Nayar, chairman of the computer science department at Columbia University, does research that includes computational photography. “The data megapixel sensors gather is just an intermediate step on the way to a picture,” he said. “We are interested in how you design a camera that goes hand in hand with computation to create a new kind of picture.”

“Frankencamera” is another interesting development mentioned, where cameras have been modified using bits of an operating system in an attempt to further merge photography and computing. See the Stamford University’s site for more information.

As an early adapter of digital photography, I admit I dont miss the analogue days of film processing and color printing (which I did at home!) and look forward to new advances of image making: after all, I’m only interested in the content of the photograph and what is makes you feel.

What’s Just Around the Bend? Soon, a Camera May Show You
The New York Times
Published: December 18, 2010

Photography in Cinema: Antonioni’s Eclipse (L’Eclisse)

As a photographer, my influences come from many sources, and cinema is one of them.

Many Neo-Realist films are of great interest to me because of their documentarian approach, but the films of Michaelangelo Antonioni provide a rich visual and narrative source. Blow-Up, of course focuses on photography, and explores the notion of evidence, witness and what we really see. Antonioni’s Eclipse (L’Eclisse), his third film of his trilogy (L’avventura and La Notte are the others), is masterful in exploring photography’s use in cinema.

The film opens with what could be described as a series of photographs: a still shot of a desk, lamp and books in an apartment interior; other stills of the apartment; the actress Monica Vitti playing with an empty picture frame and arranging a small vase and other objects; a modernist building seen through the window.

Later, when Monica Vitti’s character is at her apartment at night, she and a friend stand in silhouette framed in a doorway, illuminated by the hall and surrounded by the dark building. The repetition of frames, windows–and scenes of characters looking at them—describe a photographic approach to film.

The most intriguing photographic element is the lyrical and mysterious film ending. There, still shots of everyday city scenes are oddly presented: a barrel filled with water; a crack in the sidewalk; strewn building materials; blocks and bricks reminiscent of a city.

Many of these images are haunting in their banality. Also, they seem to reference or predate the New Topographics landscape photography of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke,Nicholas Nixon, Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, Jr., Bernd and Hilla Becher. Perhaps more importantly though, Antonioni references still photography because they provide an unexpected pause and moment to examine the world around us, which seems to be the theme of the film.

For me however, the power of Eclipse (and the two other films) is how Antonioni combines a documentary approach to the structure of the film itself. The film unfolds perhaps as life does, through a series of incidents. Through these loose events we develop a sense of what life is like at that time. For me, this is what photography does as well too—it observes what is around us and gives an idea of how we live today.