Monday, December 24, 2007


(Yeah, I know, it's been a while.)

1. Tired of boring old graham cracker gingerbread houses? Join Bake for a Change's sustainable gingerbread house design contest! According to the website, "It's up to you whether you emphasize using rainwater for toilet water or install candy glass skylights ... Everything must be edible." Marshmallow rain barrels, anyone? (Hat tip, Inhabitat.

2. This is possibly the biggest time waster I've ever come across online -- at least for those of us who spent our childhood building elaborate cities out of Legos.

3. I have yet to play with Splashup, but I'm pretty positive that online photo editing is going to eventually revolutionize postprocessing and give Adobe a run for its money. Flickr also just added an editing feature which I've toyed with -- it's a marked improvement over having to re-upload images after realizing that your miniature poodle's red eye makes her look vaguely satanic.

4. The prettiest teapot I've ever seen.

5. I know these are fairly old, but I'm greatly entertained by Irina Blok's stunning diamond necklace.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reasons to Love Vincent Laforet

Though this month's issue of New York Magazine is technically named Reasons to Love New York, the photos are all Laforet. He set up a series of aerial shots of the red cursive "love" being assembled on the Bryant Park skating rink, and the images are up on NYMag's site as a timelapse video.

PotW: Mirei Lehmann

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Taking a Ride on the SLUT

Only Seattle would create a public transportation system with the convenient acronym SLUT.

Camera Buying Guide


For whatever reason, friends and acquaintances have started coming to me when they're in the mood for a new camera. I'm not sure that this is such a great idea since I haven't purchased a camera myself in over a year and a half and am slightly out of touch with the current market, but enough people are asking that I figured I'd publicize my two cents.

A caveat: generally speaking, I support Canon unreservedly and wholeheartedly. There's really no rhyme or reason to this -- though I find that a majority of pro photographers have an equally strong sense of brand loyalty to one of the other (also, frequently, without any particular logic) -- but now that I've invested in a Canon body and a small army of Canon lenses, there's no going back. As a result, when someone comes to me looking to start buying a camera system from scratch I'm more likely to suggest Canon equipment over its Nikon counterparts.

When it comes to bodies, I think the market is divided into four distinct tiers:

Point-and-Shoot: Unfortunately, this is probably the category about which I'm least informed and most frequently queried. My last PaS was a first-generation Canon PowerShot S70 from 2003, and while it was a remarkably durable and reliable little machine (I still carry it around when I want a camera handy but can't deal with a full SLR), I'm pretty sure it's grossly out of date. For a while, I referred people to PC World's buying guide, but I have to make a few qualifications. If you're just looking for a compact and reliable PaS and don't particularly care about manual control, then by all means buy a Fuji or Kodak. Otherwise, stick with the big camera names; you'll become more familiar with how the camera system works for when you upgrade. I'm personally a big fan of the 12.1 MP titanium Canon PowerShot SD950 IS, but there are scores of cameras available for every price range.

Amateur DSLR: Entry-level DSLRs are getting better and better. I shot with a Canon Rebel for about a year and was largely unimpressed, but the updated Rebel XTi is a solid camera. That being said, I think this is the one case in which I would actually recommend Nikon over Canon if someone is looking for a truly basic DSLR. The Nikon D40X is less expensive and slightly lower-end, but certainly more than adequate for anyone looking to get into photography without spending too much. And the added benefit of starting with Nikon is that lenses tend to be much cheaper -- which makes a huge difference when you've started to eye those telephoto, wide, and portrait lenses.

Semi-Pro DSLR: Right now, I'm shooting at the lower end of semi-pro cameras, largely because Canon and Nikon have come out with so many upgrades over the past year and a half. That being said, my trusty 30D has served me well, and is now easily available for about half of what I paid for it. I've played with a friend's 40D and found it to be a wonderful upgrade, and then there's the almost-pro 5D -- which, while a very nice camera (and has the added benefit of taking Canon's EF lenses) is probably due for an upgrade sometime very soon.

Pro DSLR: If you're actually in the market for a pro camera and you're coming to me for advice, you're severely misguided. I can tell you what I want, but otherwise you're going to have to check back in the spring of 2009 after I've graduated from college and (fingers crossed) have a job with the Associated Press.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pachelbel Rant

Truer words have never been spoken (/sung).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

PotW: Hiroshi Watanabe

Over the summer, I worked in the photo department of The New Yorker and had the opportunity to meet and work with a slew of pretty amazing photographers. I kept a running list of my favorites, and intended to post one or two every week over the summer, but life got in the way, etc. etc. Anyway, in an attempt to get this very neglected blog up and running again, I'll start at least with other people's images, since I haven't really been posting my own.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Rainbows

While I very much appreciate the fact that Radiohead managed to cut out the middle man altogether with their most recent album In Rainbows -- which you can download from their site in return for an unspecified and unsuggested donation (mine was $0) -- I still don't get why everyone is so crazy about their music.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Not only does the illustrious President of Iran have a blog (with a handy English translation for those of you who can't read Farsi) -- but it also sports a fully customizable color palette. Hilarious.

(For those of you who are woefully behind the times, Ahmadinejad will in fact speak at Columbia on Monday, and I will be stationed feet away with the biggest lens I can get my hands on.)

On Writing

"Literature was born not the day when a boy crying 'wolf, wolf' came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels: literature was born on the day when a boy came crying 'wolf, wolf' and there was no wolf behind him. That the poor little fellow because he lied too often was finally eaten up by a real beast is quite incidental. But here is what is important: between the wolf in the tall grass and the wolf in the tall story there is a shimmering go-between. That go-between, that prism, is the art of literature."

--Vladimir Nabokov

Thursday, August 30, 2007

You Know You're at a Concert in Williamsburg...

When people are taking photos (at night, outside, where ISO 1600 film is just barely cutting it) with Polaroid cameras.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Wordcounts

"There are only two kinds of stories in the world: those about which I do not care to write as many as 600 words, and those about which I would like to write many more than 600 words. But there is nothing about which I would like to write exactly 600 words."

-- David Halberstam (1934-2007)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

R.I.P Times Select

The Grey Lady may be skinnier, but now all of her online content is free.

(But I'm willing to bet that you still have to pay for the crossword...)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Someone's Not Voting for Rudy

Does no one else think that the best part of Caroline Giuliani's FaceBook profile is not her possible affinity for Barack Obama, but the fact that she is single and looking for "random play" and "whatever [she] can get"? Uh.

NYTimes Gets Liposuction;

Narrows waistline by 1.5 inches.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Adventures in Crowdsourcing

Particularly after the conclusion of Assignment Zero, I have become increasingly wary of the genuine benefits of crowdsourcing -- particularly within the context of journalism and other creative processes that require a degree of continuity. A few recent projects, however, have caught my eye for their singular ability to harness the occasionally useful residual energy of the masses:

1. You know that distorted word that pops up when you try to create an e-mail account or leave a blog comment? Usually, it's a nonsensical string of characters designed to foil spambots and the like. With reCAPTCHA, however, the site's visitor is required to enter two separate words: one that the computer recognizes and actually uses for verification, and another that actually comes from a book that is in the process of being digitized. reCAPTCHA takes the words that aren't easily identified by computers and has you blog readers and e-mail sign-up-ers do the work. Brilliant!

2. The Border Film Project provides packages with disposable cameras to both Minutemen and Mexican migrants attempting to enter the US. When the cameras are returned, the best photos are selected and added to a traveling exhibition. They've posted a number of the images on the site, and some of them are quite stunning.

3. And most recently, Google just launched a video project encouraging people to make short clips showing the trademark Gmail envelope passing across the frame from one hand to another. On August 13, Google will stitch the best into a single film. Pretty convenient if you can crowdsource even your advertising campaigns!

Friday, August 03, 2007

NYC Photography Laws to Be Re-Drafted



The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

--Billy Collins

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dear Beverage Purveyors,

Is it impossible to just order a medium coffee, or a small chai, or a large shake anymore? I don't want a "tall" Starbucks frappuccino or a "power" Jamba Juice smoothie, damnit. What does that mean, anyway, 'tall'?! And why would you choose to categorize liquid by height, anyway? What if I feel like 'Brazilian model' or 'legal midget'? I want corporations to use normal English, and I refuse to conform to your ridiculous Newspeak naming conventions. So there.

The One Train

Friday, July 27, 2007

New York City Photography Restrictions, Redux

To elaborate on an earlier entry, after having read the veritable tome that is the "Notice of Public Hearing and Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Rules Relating to Permits Issued by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting," I'd like to make myself perfectly clear:

While I find it quaint that the Mayor's office wants to impose a list of approximately 80 rules, regulations, and restrictions on the movement and activity of photographers and filmmakers, I have absolutely no intention of honoring those rules. Federal law stipulates that as long as a photographer is not trespassing on private property, he or she is allowed to take photos of whatever he can see and shoot from where he stands. This "Notice" is attempting to restrict what are, in essence, first amendment rights (If the KKK can legally parade through the streets, I can photograph them. Simple as that.), and I'm having none of it.

This is not to say that I have never trespassed on private property or never circumvented conventional authority as a photographer (though if you want those stories, you'll have to ask); but that's a risk I recognize and am willing to take. I am not, on the other hand, willing to be told that I cannot photograph my own city from its very public sidewalks.

For more information, check out PictureNY.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The 1 Train Scores Highest in the "State of the Subways" Report

Well, I could have told you that.

(And a Tolkien reference too! How appropos.)

Why You Can't Always Trust Wikipedia

Ignoring for the moment why I was looking at Lil Wayne's Wikipedia page in the first place (it's work-related, I swear!), the following recent edit is both a stunning example of the speed at which publicly edited databases can be updated and the horrible, horrible accidents that are produced in the wake of such efficiency.

Mmm, maraujana.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Yes, I realize that I'm 18 strangers short. Will fix, as soon as my life becomes more sane. (Oh, who am I kidding--?)

Stranger 168

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007