Review: Odysseys and Photographs

Odysseys and Photographs

I finally had a chance to sit down with this book over two nights and read it through. And I’m bummed out that I didn’t do it sooner. Odysseys and Photographs: Four National Geographic Field Men is fantastic.

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These amazing biographies, written by editors, friends, and spouses, bring us a personal and stirring account of four National Geographic photographers. Each story reveals the adventurous spirit and innovation these gifted photographers brought to their craft. From Maynard Williams’ epic 10 month overland crossing of the Asian continent in 1931, to Luis Marden’s pioneering work with underwater photography and his discovery of the Bounty in 1957, to Volkmar Wentzel’s adventure prompted by his editor to “Do India,” to Thomas Abercrombie’s coverage of the Middle East in the 60s and 70s—these men all seemed to be the right man at the right place at the right time in history.

Each essay, lovingly written, reveals details about these men and their assignments that were only known to friends and colleagues, and provide an account that gives an intoxicating glimpse of what it must have been like to be a National Geographic Field Man in these golden years. These men were the Indiana Jones’ of photography.

Accompanied by beautiful 8 and 10-inch photographs throughout, Odysseys and Photographs covers nearly a century of world history–the people, the places, the politics—in a behind-the-scenes kind of way, through the eyes of these gifted photographers, writers, adventurers.

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This book was provided to Photodoto free of charge for review.

Photosynth

I’ve recently come across Photosynth, I had heard of it about a year ago when it was still in its tech preview phase and then I’d forgotten about it. Which I shouldn’t have done because it really is cool. Microsoft Live Labs, who own Photosynth, call it “an entirely new visual medium.” And they’re pretty much right, it’s a very cool new way of viewing photographs. Basically it works by analyzing a set of photos and using the data to build a model of the subject, then it re-creates the environment and uses it as a canvas for the photo. Which doesn’t sound as awesome as it is so head over to Photosynth where you can play about with creating and viewing synths yourself.

National Geographic is creating synths of global landmarks like Macchu Pichu, Stonehenge, and the Pantheon which you can view on the National Geographic Magazine webiste. The BBC also has a gallery called “The Future of Photography” on their website which has collections of synths built on locations from the BBC One series “How We Built Britain”, including Trafalgar Square, Ely Cathedral, and the Scottish Parliament Building.

Oh, but there is a downside; this being a Microsoft project you’ll need Windows XP or Vista for Photosyth to work…(sigh)

Friday grab bag

A National Geographic photographer brings her kids to work. It’s the ultimate photography internship. What a great opportunity for a kid.

The growth and birth of a chicken in pictures. Despite this, I will continue to enjoy eating eggs.

60 photo links you can’t live without over at CameraPorn. No, it’s perfectly work safe, trust me. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Olympus has a really neat new super zoom with the “soul of a DSLR.” You can’t change lenses, but why would you? The SP-570 UZ covers 26-520mm (f/2.8-4.5) with built in sensor-shift and digital image stabilization.

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