Atwitter About Photography; The Good, The Bad, And The Bloggy
“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.”
Is writing a blog too time-consuming for you? Try micro-blogging. That alternative lets you write brief (usually less than 200 characters) text updates and publish them, so they can be viewed by anyone or by a group who is restricted by the original user. The text can be submitted by text or instant messaging, e-mail, MP3, or the web. Twitter (www.twitter.com) is currently the most popular micro-blogging service and allows you to send updates called tweets of up to 140 characters long to their website via the site itself, Short Message Service (SMS), instant messaging, or through third-party applications. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who may have signed up to receive their tweets.
Daryl Benson’s elegantly designed Flash-based (www.adobe.com) website showcases his colorful travel photography. The Gallery icon looks like a lens iris but acts more like an iPod interface, letting you shuffle back and forth between different collections ranging from “Animals,” including polar bears photographed in Manitoba, to breathtaking scenic images in “World,” such as the view of New Zealand’s Milford Sound being struck by multiple lightning bolts.
Tip: If you’re out in the open, photographing lightning with a thunderstorm overhead is extremely dangerous, even if no rain is falling.
Like most Americans, I’m not as familiar with our neighbor to the North as I should be and in his “Alberta” gallery, Benson takes you across this province from Cypress Hills in southern Alberta to Mount Kitchener in Jasper National Park. Each of these dynamic images is accompanied by captions that give a sense of where they were made. His “Canada” portfolio takes you around that big beautiful country with equally beautiful images that I wish were just a little bit bigger. Benson has a delightful way of integrating people into his photographs, whether it’s his uncle walking in a Saskatchewan field, demonstrating his mastery of monochrome, or an image of someone lighting candles in a temple in China’s Jiangsu Province that’s full of red, yellow, and orange tones. The photos in his “People” gallery show Benson’s sensitive side, but this same skill translates into the way he photographs landscapes, too, showing them caressed by light and captured at those peaceful times when you feel you are alone with him in the quiet of the moment.
Aaron Singer described himself to me as a corporate lawyer sitting in a glass tower in New York as well as somebody to whom photography is more than a hobby; it’s a way of self-expression. That’s obvious at first glance of his website because it’s all about the pictures; it doesn’t show anything else. There is more than an echo of the work of abstract expressionist photographer Aaron Siskind (1903-1991) in Singer’s imagery, although as far as I know, Siskind only worked in black and white, unlike Singer who (mostly) celebrates color in his own photographs. Like Siskind, Singer explores the tiny details in urban life but paints them onto a broader canvas and here, in darkened stairwells or the exteriors of abandoned buildings, produces some of his best work. He manages to be realistic yet abstract at the same time, combining splashes of color found in his close-up images within a wider social context.
The site’s minimalistic design helps keep the focus on the photos, allowing you to see three thumbnails at the same time and one larger image that’s large enough so you can enjoy it, at the same time. As you click the forward arrow and go to the next page the pattern is repeated but the photographs continue to involve you, such as the image of an orange chair placed next to a graffiti-covered wall that resonates with its “look-at-me” color and confrontational composition. This is Singer at his best and one of the many reasons you should visit his website.