Photo of the Week: Brrrr…Cold!!!

11 12 2009

Hot Metal Bridge looking west toward Pittsburgh.

Thought this photo might be appropriate as they are calling for wind chills around zero this morning here in Pittsburgh. This is a photo I took a year or so ago on the Hot Metal Street Bridge that connects 2nd Avenue in Pittsburgh to the Southside Works area. Both sides of the river used to be lined with steel mills, but now a technology park is on one side of the river and hub of entertainment (restaurants, clubs, movie theater, German beer pub, and stores) is directly across the river.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and finds great deals on the Christmas presents they are seeking! Stay warm! Drive safe! In store for next week… tips on photography in the cold, book reviews, and another photo of the week.

Interview: Christopher Rolinson Part II

9 12 2009

Hope that all of you enjoyed Part I of the interview with Chris Rolinson from StartPoint Media!   As promised, here is the exciting conclusion from Chris!  I think he provides some great insights into the world of photography and I was also really interested in the new photographic technology that he has been engaged with recently!  READ ON!  Thanks again Chris for sharing your insights!!

Hells Hollow Flume

What do you think is the hardest lesson for students to grasp related to a career in photography?

That it’s a business.  It’s as hard as doing anything else you choose.  It’s hard to make the connections, working on the images, being able to pay everything and balance family.

I am sure that students ask if they can make any money in photography these days.  What do you tell them?

Yes you can.  But like anything else you had better be sharp with the business side of things.  It can be feast or famine so you have to balance purchases and make good decisions.  My advice is typically not to stick around Pittsburgh but to try and get a staff job at a newspaper somewhere.  But their answer is almost always the same, “I can’t make any money doing that.  It only pays like $8 an hour.”  And I have to ask them how bad do they really want it.  Do you want to do photography for a living or are you just talking.  If you are serious, you’d better live on a tight budget, get good at photography, build your network, and pay your dues.

There seems to be a lot of photography programs at the various colleges in the region.  Is a market the size of Pittsburgh saturated with photographers?

The region is totally saturated.  Think about it this way.  There is more than one Pulitzer Prize winning photographers in town freelancing.  If you get a call from Joe graduate or one of those award winning photographers, who are you going to choose to work for you?  The competition in Pittsburgh is stiff.  The jobs that I personally have are a result of key relationships that I have built.  There’s been a lot of consistency for me as a result of some of those relationships.

What sort of equipment do you recommended to photography students on a tight  budget?

Buy good glass.  Don’t get caught up on what camera to purchase.  The glass you can continue using for a long time and upgrade the camera body later.

What do you think are the biggest changes in the world of photography in the last few years?

I haven’t really been in this business all that long.  I have only been a professional for 9 years and it was film when I first started.  6 months later the newspaper switched to digital using a D1.  The thing I am really head over heels excited about right now is GigaPan.

So tell me what it is about the GigaPan technology that has really got you excited. (NOTE:  I tried to post a photo here of a GigaPan image but WordPress was not cooperating.  So please check out this link to see an example of one of Chris’s photos with this technology as well as the official website at:

It can be used as a tool of journalism like no other tool has been able to do before.  As opposed to static, you can take a picture all the way around the room and you can zoom into the details within the picture, tag it, and write about it.  As the photographer I can have a wide image and talk to different people within the image or write about specific things.  It has marvelous potential, but I think it might be too new for people to fully get their heads around it.  I’ve tried to pitch it and only have got one person to buy into it so far.

The technology was created at Carnegie Mellon University with a robotic mechanism and you can put any standard point and shoot camera into it, shoot everything, process it and stitch it together into these really compelling images.  I just got back from Kent, OH and took pictures of my friend Bill who is a painter.  The GigaPan is really something else!  There is a picture on the GigaPan website from the Obama inauguration taken by David Bergman using the GigaPan that is worth checking out.  It is incredible!  As a news tool, it is going to be amazing.  You can go to a rock concert and take a 360 of the crowd.  There are only two newspapers that I know that have done this…the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and a paper in Arizona.  I think it has a lot of future potential.

We’ve used GigaPan twice at Point Park University with students using them in workshops related to journalism.  Coming this fall we will have an entire class dedicated to reporting with the GigaPan.  Where I think the GigaPan fits right now is a way of training you how to think about things in a different way so you have the capacity to understand the future technologies.

I’m a bit of a movie nut, so I have to ask a movie related question.  Let’s say that I am a Hollywood director creating a movie about your life as a photographer.  Who should I cast in the role as you and why?

Elliott from E.T.

The kid that was in ET (Henry Thomas).  Because when I was a kid he and I were the spitting image of one another.  Hopefully today he has grown up to be as good looking as me.  Him or maybe Will Farrell, but I’m really not that funny.  But I tend to reference the TV show Kung Fu all the time to my students referring to them as “grasshoppers” and my students have no idea what I’m talking about.  All of a sudden I am an antique.

Anything else exciting coming up that you want to put a plug in for?

I’m going to be the guest editor for GigaPan Magazine for the January issue and that is where all of the photos will be that I took today in Kent.  In January I’m having a show in McKees Rocks at the Father Ryan Art Center.  I’ve been doing stuff with them for about 7 years and they’re really special people.  We’re having a book signing, opening, and reception there.  In the summer, I’m giving two workshops at the Touchstone Center for the Arts in Uniontown.  One is Photojournalism that will be begin on the 4th of July with a theme of America and American small towns.  Then two weeks later I am doing a nature photography workshop at the same location.

Thanks again Chris for all of the insights!  Be sure to check out Chris’s website and others linked within the two part interview!!  Photo of the week posted on Friday!  And don’t forget about the photo contest ending Friday as well that is referenced two blog posts ago as well as on the Photoburgh Flickr Page.

Interview: Christopher Rolinson Part I

7 12 2009

I’m excited to bring you the second in the Photoburgh interview series!!  Another great treat for all of you! This is the first of a two part post of an interview with Christopher Rolinson (Father, Photographer, Artist, Journalist, Teacher, Veteran, Hiker, Bicycler, Brewer, and Kayaker) from StartPoint Media and photography professor at Point Park University.

Pittsburgh Today

So Chris, tell us a little about your background to kick things off.

I think it is an interesting story.  After high school I went to Penn State and didn’t do very well.  Then I joined the Army.  When I was in the Army I used the finest cameras on the planet… point and shoot cameras from the grocery store.  I found out that photos were interesting.  So after my tour was done in the Army I went to Slippery Rock.  On the first day there the counselor said I had to have an art class and I was put into a photography class.  I probably would have taken it eventually, but it was one of those “life-defining” moments. I then got into politics there and communications.  I developed my own way through college taking a broad range of classes in journalism, science, art, etc.  So I have a broad base of knowledge.  I don’t just have a journalism or photography background.  Really if your just a journalism major you don’t really know anything about anything other than journalism.  That’s something that I tell me students all the time.

From there a friend saw a job posting in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for a photo journalist.  I never bought a paper before but sent them my portfolio from Slippery Rock and lo and behold they hired me to work in Steubenville, OH. I worked there for 2 years and then I went to a studio in Crafton and learned studio work. I then went back to graduate school at Point Park and have been there since.

In which of those positions would you say that you learned the most?

I learned things the whole entire time.  At Slippery Rock I learned the ground work for a lot of things but not necessarily the photography side of things.  I learned a lot about journalism, science, and the aesthetics of art.  I basically had to use all of those various skills and knowledge to land the position with the Herald-Star.  And I remember the first week was rough!  There were times when I would return from the field and would be asked, “Do you know how to use a flash?  Can you please use a flash?”  What I learned at the daily newspaper is what propelled me to be able to do what I do now because of the routine and discipline of it.  That definitely helped me learn how to do freelance photography.

So what types of things are you doing now?

Still doing some freelance work. As I got more and more into teaching, I’ve gotten out of the daily grind of covering news daily.  But I just do that occasionally now for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.  Now I am working a lot with nature photography, weddings, events, and the occasional news piece.  I also did a nature photography book entitled Our State Parks: Western Pennsylvania which was released on November 2.  It also enabled me to use that as a teaching tool with my students as it was being developed.  The book is available now for purchase via my website (linked above).

Our State Parks Now Available

What is it about nature photography that you enjoy?

I like the idea of just driving around and taking pictures of stuff.  You don’t really get paid to do that.  But it became a passion for me.  I like everything about it.  What else would I do?  Be an accountant.

Let’s talk gear.  What are you shooting with other than the Canon G9 that I see you have with you today.

Nikon D200.  I am a believer in the Strobist philosophy of lighting and use that out in the field a lot.  Lately I have been using a perspective control lens which is my favorite toy right now.  I would say my favorite lens is…well that really just depends.  But my all time favorite is probably the 80-200mm.  I also use a 20mm and 28-105mm but that’s pretty much it.  I have a fisheye lens too, but I rarely ever use it.

What inspires you?

When I first started out I was a much angrier person and I wanted to right wrongs.  That’s really what I was after when I got into the newspaper business.  I really wanted to document what was happening and cover the truth well.  As time went on, I became increasingly jaded with the intertwining of the media and politics.  I’m really interested now in technology news and experimenting with things that could never be done with film like gigapan, HDR, and things like that.  I couldn’t get a job now with any of my old clients if I wanted to because there just isn’t any money to do it now.

With your background in journalism, what are your thoughts on the industry these days with the decline and possible death of print media?

Newspapers are not going away.  They are going to reach a point where economics don’t work out and you have to figure out what you are going to do and what you are going to do for money.  I know there are businessmen that run newspapers and they are going to find a way to make money with them.  There are a couple of projects out there that I think might save journalism.  But I really don’t think the printed media is going to ever go away.  Look at the smaller newspapers and they are still profitable.  They still employ people, have staff jobs, staff photographers, and still go out and cover stories.  The local advertising in those newspapers is still effective.

I have seen video cameras now as required equipment for some photo journalists including those from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.  Will the need for traditional photographer as well as video for web content change the way students now have to learn journalism?

It already has.  They all have to learn multimedia and shoot with that eye for multimedia.  We interject it into our classes including TV production into photojournalism.  So they learn to shoot video as well as edit.  But my thing is to get them to think of newspaper stories from many different dimensions.  Do you have one front page shot?  Do you have a series of 5 photos to tell the whole story and present different visual content.  And do you have 25-30 images that you can use to make your point in 90 seconds or less?

There seems to be a trend these days in digital SLR cameras now having HD video capabilities melded together into one piece of technology.  What do you think of this?

It’s a great idea, but I don’t know if it is at a point yet where the technology truly makes it interchangeable.  I still like using my Canon G9 to do some video and the D200 for some photos and blend them together in a multimedia presentation.  I try to stay away from being a gadgety person.  If you could pull a Raw photo file out of HD video file in a cost effective piece of technology that would be pretty cool.

Stay tuned for Part II of the interview with Chris on Wednesday!! Chris shares some tips he gives his photography students at Point Park University, some more details on upcoming projects, and about a cool new piece of photographic technology that has him really excited these days!

Much on the Horizon

2 12 2009

So it has been about a week since the last blog post so I thought I would give you a quick update on some things in the works or recently launched.

1.  New Flickr Group – As a way to share photos with each other related to discussions here, continue dialog on specific topics, or share photos for contests, I have created a new Flickr Group.  Check it out and join by clicking here.

2.  Childhood Memories Photo Contest – Announced this fun contest on my Facebook Fan Page and on the above mentioned Photoburgh Flickr group.  Even gave you some photos to get the creative juices flowing a bit.  Hope you participate!!  There is a prize!  Ends Dec 11.

3.  Interview with Chris Rolinson – The first part of the interview with Christopher Rolinson will hit the blog on Monday, Dec. 7.  Chris is a father, photographer, artist, journalist, teacher, veteran, hiker, bicycler, brewer, and kayaker.  He is also the owner of StartPoint Media and a photography professor at Point Park University.  Still have to dictate the great interview with Chris, but it will indeed be worth the read!  Stay tuned on Facebook for updates.

4.  Future interviews – Have the next couple of interviews lined up and more ideas to pursue.  But let me know if there are people you think would be interesting to speak with for the blog or if there are particular topics/types of people most of interest to you.  Definitely will be interviewing some people on fashion and modeling in the coming weeks as well to add some diversity.

5.  Book reviews - Next week I will be sharing some thoughts on book recommendations that surely will help any of you in the world of photography, modeling, fashion, design, or any other life endeavor.  A new tab will also then be added with listed/recommended resources.

6.  Photo of the Week – I will be selecting a photo of the week to share each week.  Might be something recently taken, might be from the archives, might be from someone else.  Be watching for it.

7. More contests/prizes – I have idea for at least the next couple of contests.  So plenty of opportunities throughout December to get involved, share with others, and pick up a camera and have some fun!

I think that’s about all for now!  Thanks for reading and participating!!  And feel free to add a link to the blog or mention it to a friend!


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