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John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

VIDEO: LA Sheriffs Unlawfully Detain Photographer

On October 31, 2009 while on my way home from the Hollywood and Highland area, I was unlawfully detained for 25 minutes by LASD Officers Richard Gylfie #2955 and Bayes #456 for taking two photographs of the turnstiles located at the Hollywood and Western Metro Station — an act that is completely legal and occurred in public space.discarted

Sheriff: Why are you taking pictures?
Photographer: Because I want to.

Apparently that answer isn’t good enough for the LA sheriffs. I respect that the sheriffs have a tough job but they do not have the right to harass people who are not doing anything illegal. Tell everyone you know. This is important.

Click here to get more information about the incident and to get contact information for agencies that should be able to do something about this.

Click here for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s online complaint form.

Is film photography for you?

A Gift From a Friend - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

A Gift From a Friend - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

Back in the long ago time, there was film. Sheets of chemicals and magic that transformed when they were struck by rays of light. And it was good.

But it was also kind of a pain in the ass because you could only shoot 24 or 36 frames at a time before you had to change the film. And you had to carry around lots of film in bulky little cans. And you couldn’t preview or delete your shots. And sometimes you’d find that you shot an entire roll with the wrong exposure but you didn’t find out until you got the film back from the developer a week later. Good times.

But some say there is also a certain quality to film photography that hasn’t been replicated by digital. A special and ineffable charm, difficult to express but instantly recognizable. And, contrary to what you might expect, there are quite a few new-to-film photographers out there, drawn to film by the novelty or the look or the antiques or the desire to practice arcane arts on the verge of becoming extinct. Film is Not Dead, a group on Flickr, has over 12,000 members.

Whatever your motivation, if you are interested in film photography, I can heartily recommend following Brian Auer over at Epic Edits. Brian has jumped into film photography with gusto (possibly to the detriment of his marriage) and seems to boast about a new camera or darkroom acquisition on a weekly basis.

The Darkroom - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

The Darkroom - Brian Auer (cc-by-nc)

Brian has written many articles about his adventures in film photography including several guides to getting into film photography and getting your first camera. Here are some to get you started:

Free photo editors for Linux, Mac, and Windows

Can’t afford Photoshop? Can’t justify the expense? What do you need in a good photo editor anyway? To me, the absolute essential features necessary for any photo editing app are:

  • Layers and layer masks (alpha editing). These features let you selectively apply edits and filters to portions of the image that you control.
  • Painting tools. Brushes in varying sizes and hardness. For painting masks, mostly.
  • Curves. Essential. A curves adjustment tool lets you control color, color saturation, contrast, brightness, and black white points. Curves is often the only tool I use.
  • Color adjustment. Hue and saturation adjustments.
  • Channel mixer/B&W converter. Some way to make black and white photos.
  • Filters. Blur and sharpen. You don’t need page curl or lens flare.

Without further ado, and in alphabetical order, some free apps that fit the bill:

Aviary Phoenix (Web app–All platforms)

The only web/online app in the list that supports layers and masks. “From basic image retouching to complex effects, Phoenix delivers the key features of a desktop image editor with the simplicity and accessibility of a web-based application.”


Chocoflop (Mac)

Non-destructive image editor for Mac. Possibly the only editor on this list with a worse name than GIMP. “ChocoFlop allows you to edit your photos or design stuff using Apple’s CoreImage technology. Because of this it can show real-time previews of filters and keep modifications live for as long as you want.”


Gimp (Linux/Mac/Windows)

The king of open source image editors. Available for all platforms.


Krita (Linux)

Image editor that is part of the KOffice suite for Linux.


Paint.NET (Windows)

Started life as an undergraduate design project mentored by Microsoft. “Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help,  tutorials, and plugins.”


Seashore (Mac)

“Seashore is an open source image editor for Mac OS X’s Cocoa framework. It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing.”


Do you have a favorite free/open source photo editor? Share in the comments.

Top cameras and lenses used by the White House photography staff

EF85mm f/1.2L II USM

I was browsing through The Official White House Photostream on Flickr today. The photographs are excellent. Pete Souza is the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and Director of the White House photo office.

I noticed that the EXIF data was available for just about every photo and it contained lens information. Naturally, being a programmer/photography geek, I decided to download the EXIF data for all 1,433 photos (as of today) and find out which lenses the White House photography staff likes best. Here are the results:


Camera # of photos
Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1074
Canon EOS 1DS Mark III 31
Canon EOS 5D 23
Canon EOS 1DS Mark II 2
Unknown 303


Lens # of photos
EF35mm f/1.4L USM 439
EF50mm f/1.2L USM 179
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM 166
EF135mm f/2L USM 136
EF24mm f/1.4L II USM 69
EF85mm f/1.2L II USM 34
EF70-200mm f/4L USM 16
EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM 27
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM 20
EF28mm f/1.8 USM 10
EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM 5
EF135mm f/2L USM +1.4x 3
EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM 3
EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM 3
EF24mm f/1.4L USM 3
EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 2
EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM +1.4x 2
70.0-200.0 mm 2
EF20mm f/2.8 USM 1
EF35mm f/2 1
EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 1
EF200mm f/1.8L USM 1
Unknown 310

Photo contest vs. mass consumerism

A buddy of mine is running a photo contest with a cause. Dave is living with just 100 personal possessions in an effort to raise awareness of the problems caused by mass consumerism.

The 1st prize winner will receive $100 plus $100 donated to the Plant with Purpose Trees Fund in the winner’s name. All winning photographs will be printed, matted, and displayed in the lobby of Rohr Hall at Point Loma Nazarene University for two weeks in December.

The theme is: Challenging Stuff. Mass consumerism is a way of life. Photos should challenge assumptions about consumerism.

I’m one of the judges along with photographers Scott Bennet and Marcus Emerson. The contest is free to enter and helps a good cause. Please check it out.

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