The most talked about photo from last week – and indeed for some time – was Richard Lam’s riot kiss in Vancouver. Naturally many wannabe image experts made fools of themselves by instantly branding the picture a fake. Esquire went to the opposite extreme, declaring it not just the best photo of the night, but “maybe of all time”. Ten reasons why they’re wrong:
1. Digital Photography Review Expert Analysis™ identifies multiple technical failures: burned-out highlights, incorrect white balance and poor composition.
2. The photographer neglected to use the World Press Photo recommended formula: convert to b/w, burn down 2 stops, add 100% contrast, run Tunnel Vision™ vignette plug-in, re-crop with 20 degree angle and constrain to wrap.
3. The image clearly fails Alamy’s industry standard quality control: “contains excessive noise, and soft or lacking definition”.
4. Shot by a photographer in his own town, the image fails the photojournalism travel test. Greatest-ever photos are invariably taken far from home, most often in Africa, the Middle East or Haiti. Never in Canada.
5. Not shot on a leicaPhone, the classic camera for all serious reportage.
6. No use of Hipstamatic, HDR or tone mapping: the image relies solely on content and sorely lacks post-processing gimmickry.
7. Not copied from Google Street View.
8. Ignores many of photography’s most basic tenets, including the vital rule of thirds, all of which are freely available on the Internet. Additionally displays shockingly poor bokeh.
9. Fails the flickr content test: image contains no sunsets or kittens.
10. It’s not even the best riot kiss photo ever.
If you only read one thing today make it Peter Turnley’s superb two-part essay on master printer Voja Mitrovic at the Online Photographer. Anyone who has ever worked in a darkroom will appreciate the skill and sheer physical endurance that enabled Mitrovic to produce “like a machine” repeated identical prints from the negatives of Cartier-Bresson, Koudelka and many others.
Skills such as Mitrovic’s are rapidly disappearing, and this story of the Yugoslav immigrant who arrived in Paris with only $100 to become the printer of choice of many of the world’s greatest photographers is not to be missed.
After that wander over to TheWondrous.com [the weird stuff directory] and marvel at how the art of the print has developed through digital technology as you view the work of the “best HDR photographer on the planet”. Health warning: dark glasses required, prolonged viewing may cause acid flashbacks.