Kevin Briggs Photography

Danger in the World of the Arts

Kevin Briggs
"Hylas and the Nymphs," John William Waterhouse, 1896

"Hylas and the Nymphs," John William Waterhouse, 1896

Was it censorship or simply the means utilized to spark a controversy?

Whatever the catalyst of this specific incident, there is no denying that censorship is on the rise in the West. There has been an increasing tendency to ban speech, concepts, ideas, artistic representations, etc., with which some may disagree. 

As Sohrab Ahmari’s “The New Philistines” highlights (among many other books and editorials), all such efforts represent a most dangerous path.

Hasselblad's New H6D-400C MS

Kevin Briggs
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As readers of this blog know, I shoot with a Hasselblad medium format digital camera. As regular readers of my blog also know, I generally do not spend time focusing upon product announcements and/or reviews.

But the new Hasselblad H6D-400C MS is something special.

How so? Because Hasselblad has just declared it will very soon be releasing a camera capable of 400MP photos.

That’s right, 400-megapixel captures.

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The heart of the H6D-400C MS is a 100MP CMOS sensor which measures 53.4×40.0mm. The H6D-400C MS also maintains 15-stop dynamic range and an ISO range of 64-12800.

The H6D-400C MS is a medium format camera which captures individual 100-megapixel shots or which can take advantage of “multi-shot” technology (hence the MS in the title) which captures a series of almost identical photos with the camera’s remarkable sensor “shifted” by precisely 1 pixel in each subsequent shot. The individual captures are then combined to generate a single ultra-resolution image with much more detail (copiously so) than any of the individual shots.

Photographers such as myself who have always dreamed of such ultra-resolution images (think of an 8K Ultra HDTV) now have a camera body to match our dreams. True, specific landscape-photography arenas would be somewhat limited for the multi-shot captures — for technical reasons I will not explore in this blog post — but for those landscape shots which would apply, my eyes water at the prospects.

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Hasselblad has a wonderful example of the incredible detail of which this camera is capable. You can see it for yourself here.

The camera itself — body only, without lenses — is a little under $50,000. It will be available towards the end of March of this year.

A guy like me can always dream… Can’t I?
 

Kevin Briggs

It has long been my desire to photograph what is portrayed here in this stunning video. Alaska has no such magnificent starling productions, so naturally travel will be required. Nevertheless, such a marvelous photographic excursion will happen.

Beauty and the Brain: The Emerging Field of Neuroaesthetics

Kevin Briggs
Hayoung Hwang

Hayoung Hwang

As this fascinating article illustrates, "neuroaesthetics" represents a ground-breaking area of neuroscience research. This research may help us comprehend the innate methodologies by which our brains interact with and respond to art.

I believe we are hardwired to appreciate and respond to beauty. I have always maintained this viewpoint. With every passing year, my confirmation of this perspective grows stronger.

A Note RE: The National Gallery of Art

Kevin Briggs
Earl A. Powell III, Director of National Gallery of Art, speaks at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Earl A. Powell III, Director of National Gallery of Art, speaks at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The National Gallery of Art is set to lose a legend of a director in the relatively near future, one who has set the tone for the rest of the industrialized world (no kidding) with respect to the current state of the world of art.

As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted recently,

Under [Earl] Powell the National Gallery has taken a refreshingly adult approach to the vexed question of contemporary art, hewing to the traditional approach that works must pass the test of time before entering a museum, rather than chasing fads and fashions. Last year it acquired a soap-and-chocolate sculpture by Janine Antoni, nearly a quarter century after it had caused a sensation at the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Above all under Mr. Powell, the Gallery has remained a determinedly art-for-art’s-sake institution at a time when museums have been increasingly positioning themselves as political actors.

As the politicization of art (not to mention everything else) has inflamed the art world, The National Gallery of Art has done an outstanding job of seeking to withstand the unfortunate and oftentimes raging current.

Let us hope the new director is as stable and as farsighted. 

A Photographic Sign of the Times

Kevin Briggs
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Although this post may seem to be somewhat shallow, it nevertheless represents the times in which we live. 

As has been covered repeatedly and on a vast number of reputable media outlets, Khloe Kardashian brought her own makeup and lighting crew to California’s DMV in order to make her newly issued driver’s license photo anything but ordinary.

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According to a few reports I have scanned, not even Hollywood movie stars have gone to such lengths to make absolutely certain that even their government-issued photographic representation is as non-generic as possible.

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A sign of the times indeed.
 

A Quick Note on the Development of Digital Photography

Kevin Briggs
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Even though I began my photographic education with film cameras, I’ve been shooting medium-format digital throughout my entire professional career. Film photography will probably always be around, as there are those photographers who still prefer this realm of the photographic medium.

Yet what is captured in a wonderful (but brief) history of the development of digital photography (pun intended) illustrates how a giant in the film photography world utterly misjudged the future of the medium it had dominated for a very long time.

As Michael Zhang of PetaPixel writes,

In 1975, a 24-year-old engineer named Steven Sasson invented digital photography while working at Eastman Kodak by creating the world’s first digital camera. Kodak wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the industry-changing breakthrough.

In short, Kodak did not believe that digital photography would ever fully develop (once again, pardon the pun). As Sasson recals, 

"They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set. Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, so…"

So according to Kodak, no big deal.

Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Epiphany

Kevin Briggs
Epiphany-(Redo---Nov.-26,-2014).jpg

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the following represent the principal definitions for the word epiphany:

1: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ

2: an appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being

3 a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something 

(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking 

(3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

3 b: a revealing scene or moment.

With regard to Webster’s predecessor, the Oxford English Dictionary, there are only two definitions: everything associated with #3 is omitted, something I find to be most interesting based upon how the word epiphany is utilized in much of literature throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.

With respect to the three principal definitions noted supra, which definition applies to this work?

Let me just say that it does not correspond with #1.

Kevin Briggs

One of the best videos of the solar eclipse on Monday (Aug. 21). Be sure to view in full screen mode.

...Although you may want the sound off, as this enthusiastic (and rightly so) videographer exclaims, "Oh my God, look at that!" perhaps 2-3 dozen times in just a few minutes. =)

Early Solar and Lunar Eclipse Photography

Kevin Briggs

On August 21, parts of North America will witness the first total solar eclipse in nearly a century. The total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918 crossed the United States from Washington State to Florida and will be similar to that which portions of the U.S. will experience on August 21.

Fairly recent photographic discoveries have brought attention to the history of solar and lunar eclipse photography. According to Johnny Simon of Quartz Magazine online:

The earliest image of a solar eclipse is believed to have been taken by a Prussian daguerreotypist Johann Berkowski, who captured a solar eclipse over Königsberg in 1851.

The earliest known image of a solar eclipse. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

The earliest known image of a solar eclipse. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Mr. Simon also highlights other marvelous photographic finds such as the following solar and lunar eclipse images.
 

A time-lapse composite of a solar eclipse on January 24, 1925. (adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images.)

A time-lapse composite of a solar eclipse on January 24, 1925. (adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images.)

Recently discovered glass plates, forgotten in the basement of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen offer some extremely early and startling crisp images of the moon during a lunar eclipse:

A lunar eclipse seen from Denmark in 1896. Ola J. Joensen; Niles Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.  

A lunar eclipse seen from Denmark in 1896. Ola J. Joensen; Niles Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.
 

Check out the article and other images here.