500px – living and breathing photography

500px Home PageIn my last post International Photography Awards 2011 I promised to explore further the photographers of some of the works that impressed me most.

500px Alexander Kitsenko sample

Sample of Kitsenko’s work

One such was Ukrainian photographer Alexander Kitsenko. In doing so I came upon a portfolio of his work on a site called 500px, and the site impressed me as much as Kitsenko’s own work. So my post on Kitsenko is deferred while I recommend to you the 500px site. However before I go on here is a sample of his work available on 500px.

I also commented that in addition to having a website to display and to provide a store-front for your photographic artwork you should consider submitting your work to photographic competitions such as the post-featured annual International Photography Awards.

A third option is to submit your work to sites dedicated solely to photography. Here you are able to share your work to like-minded peers and be an inspiration to others as others inspire you.

500px is one such site.

500px Team

Site Details

When you submit your work it can be commented on by both fellow contributors and the site’s editorial team. In turn you are able to comment on other contributor’s work.

The site can be viewed in general simply by clicking from link to link on the photographs that you most respond to. Alternatively there is the short-cut of searching by the numerous categories on offer such as Animals, City and Architecture, Black and White, Fashion, Fine Art, Still Life among many others. Finally there is the standard search engine option.

As well as submitting individual photos you are as likely having a portfolio or two to want to share and this site allows for this with various templates available.

Photographs are available for viewing without registering but to submit and view others portfolios you need to register.

As you can see from the opening image nude content is allowable too but not immediately available asking you to confirm you want to see it.

500px - People sample

Sample in People category

500px also works as a social network site allowing peer-to-peer commenting and the usual social media sharing options to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others.

Blogs are central to this site too – the site itself has its own blog and you can set up your own photo-blog. The site also allows you to view content across all blogs by aggregating it all into a time-line.

The blogs are in many languages and the site integrates Google Translate too. And Google Translate I am finding is becoming a lot more reliable than its rather initial bumbling translations don’t you think?

The site registration and service is free though there is a paid service at a very reasonable $50 per annum.

Like a lot of free services there are limits on the number and size of content uploaded whereas the paid service allows you unlimited storage.

The paid service also allows you if you have your own web-domain to integrate your 500px portfolio into it.

The paid service is also compatible with the iPhone and iPad and allows web-analytics courtesy of Google.

The best thing I think about sites like this as oppose to your own website or entering a competition is the peer-to-peer interaction – being able to support and feedback on each others works – to friend like-minded photographers and to be inspired by other photographers whose work you may not otherwise have become aware of.

Have any of you used this site? What do you make of it? And how does it compare with similar community based photography sites?

As it is autumn where I am, I finish with this image from Hungarian photographer Ildiko Neer uploaded this very day of writing this post.

Kirsty Mitchell – photographs from the Garden of England

Kirsty Mitchell - About Wonderland - Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake

If you are a photographer the web is an ideal place to share your labours of love – that is assuming your site gets found among the endless virtual real estate that is the online realm, and then that the ever updating Google search algorithms treat you kindly. Because with a very modest digital camera pretty much anyone can set up shop online as a hopefully-professional photographer. And digital cameras of a very high standard indeed can be purchased on quite modest budgets such is the advancement of digital photographic technology. But a high-resolution digital camera and a web-site will only get you so far – to stand out from the pixelated crowd you need art and you need a distinctive vision. Kirsty Mitchell

Kirsty Mitchell certainly has vision. I especially enjoy the staged scenes of dissipated women among the twilight flora – both as one, as nature. It is not all nature though – human-made paraphernalia strews itself in some shots but in the main hauteur-horticulture pervades.

Kirsty Mitchell is from Kent in England – Kent is known as the ‘Garden of England’ – so perhaps then these scenes are inevitable. On her website she explains a background in art and fashion – photography being a relatively recent artistic endeavour following an illness in 2007 causing her to retire her fashion career. Her fashion internships were at the design studios of Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan– what designers to be interned to! As well as a gallery of her work her photographs can be purchased from her website store. Finally she presents a diary of her work. With photography words are not really that necessary? You reader will have a different response to her work than me, and even if we are of similar mind (which really is doubtful!) the pictures will still say far more than any words I could write about them.

Kirsty Mitchell Dryad

Dryad

This post then is a humble pitch for her work – to go and see for yourself. Unlike some photography blogs which present watermarked and near-thumbnail images, on this blog the photographs are available to see full-screen, fully saturated. I present a smattering here which also can be viewed in greater size if you click on the image. What do you think? Does she stand out from the sound of the crowd?I stated that I think she has a distinctive vision – but does she have art?

Kirsty Mitchell The White Witch

The White Witch

Kirsty Mitchell A Most Beautiful Death

A Most Beautiful Death

Omar Ortiz – Hyper Realism – more seeing is disbelieving

Omar Ortiz Enfoque 1 Jun 2011

Enfoque 1 June 2011

From the pictures in this post you may think that the man behind them, Omar Ortiz, is a photographer – and you would be forgiven but you would be wrong.

These pictures are in fact oil-paintings. Yes really!

I came upon, well Stumbled Upon, his works from the My Modern Metropolisart website. They, also known as My Modern Met, describe themselves as a place where art enthusiasts and trend-spotters connect over creative ideas. They are USA based and have been going just over three years.

Omar Ortiz - La Espera (Waiting)

La Espera (Waiting)

If you are looking for a website that collects and curates current art from around the globe then this site is well worth a visit. I plan to spend more time on this site and blogging about some of the art on it. This site also encourages you to register so that you can then not only browse its content but be a contributor of content whether of your own photography, video or blog posts.

Omar Ortiz’s work was posted as part of a contributor named Pinar’s blog-post titled Hyper-Realistic Paintings of the Female Form. If you like the pictures featured in my post you should check out Pinar’s post which includes many many more pictures.

Omar Ortiz also has his own WordPress blog. It is written in his native Spanish language but if you do not speak Spanish that is no barrier to understanding and engaging with this site which is predominantly pictorial with many more examples of his hyper-realist art.

Omar Ortiz at work

Photograph of the artist painting a photograph!

Omar Ortiz is Mexican and a relatively young artist born in Guadalajara in 1977. He studied as a Graphic Designer before becoming a full-time painter in the early 2000’s. His main teacher of Art is fellow Mexican Carmen Alarcon who he considers as a mentor. Further biography can be found on his blog-site along with a photograph of him – well at least I think it is a photograph!

Hyper-realism is a very recent genre of art more modern indeed than Modern Art (itself not literally modern covering as it does the period from the 1860’s to 1970’s!) having began in the early 2000’s. Its art resembles high resolution photography – and not just paintings but sculpture too. Omar Ortiz seems to have been there at its start with art posts on his blog dating back to 2001.

Like Pinar I am staggered at his representation of the human hand. Likewise his representation of bones and veins beneath the skin and of hair.

Despite the ‘Wow-factor’ I have some reservations too – is his work as much high-craft as art?

The technical aspects are expert but in trying to recreate so closely a photographic rendering of the human form is the warmth and art compromised?

Omar Ortiz - El Coloso

El Coloso – The Colossus

Voguepedia – Vogue catalogued

Voguepedia Search PageVoguepedia Email IntroductionVoguepedia is a new venture from Vogue, as described in their introductory Email ‘the ultimate (and growing) resource that documents the world of fashion in Vogue’.

A wikipedia version of Vogue magazine? Perhaps.

Currently if I need to find out fashion information I will use Google or Wikipedia or for specific designer details Style – sometimes I will go to current online magazines such as Vogue.

Voguepedia though is not just Vogue’s current content but a catalogue of a century plus of their online and print output.

The opening page is a search engine page marrying the function of Google and the looks of Bing.

The resource though is, as they say, a work in progress – my first search was Jimmy Choo, and was returned no results!

Alexander McQueen was my next search and the results were far more numerous.

However most of the results were secondary or passing references to him from articles on others from the fashion firmament – Peter Philips, Giles Deacon and Hussein Chalayan were the first pages listed – I would have hoped Alexander McQueen himself would have made up the first page returns. I am not sure if like the Google search algorithm there is a fashion algorithm at play here!

Voguepedia Personalities search

Just eleven so far!

The search can be filtered by Designers, Brands, Models, Personalities and Beauty.

You can see from the Personalities list that there is much content still to be added. It is the same with the Brands and Beauty.

The information is presented in a clear and stylish way. When I searched on Keira Knightly – as well as a summary article below a Vogue cover she appeared on from 2007 – see image end of this post – scrolling down revealed her history from birth to present, if in brief outline.

I have no doubt that this too will get more comprehensive overtime.

Much of the information still feels relatively current – the 1990’s seems about as historical as it gets so far. When it reaches back until the 1890’s – the decade Vogue was founded – we will have a very rich resource indeed, of fashion articles and photography.

I can’t wait.Voguepedia Keira Knightly

Task Management Software Review – Tasks

‘What to do yeah, I really don’t know, I really don’t know what to do’ – Jagger/Richards, The Rolling Stones ‘What To Do’

Crowd Favourite Tasks log-in screenTasks software does what it says on the tin – except that it does more.

In addition to allowing you to manage your Tasks – or To Do’s – you can run it as a Calendar and as a Document Management system, it allowing you to attach any number of files to your tasks.

Tasks is avaiable in a number of variants including one for business Tasks Pro and a light version Tasks Junior – this review will concentrate on the one for personal use, Tasks.

Tasks comes from Crowd Favourite based in Denver, Colorado USA who have a number of other services and products with an emphasis on WordPress themes and plugins.

Crowd Favourite Tasks Screen Grab

Task List view

Tasks is a browser-based software that allows you to manage your tasks wherever you have access to an Internet connected device as long as you have installed the software on your own domain server. This means whether you have a Mac, Linux or are on the dark side with a Windows PC you can access and manage your tasks. The only access caveat is from mobile devices – you can access via your phone’s browser but whether tasks lend themselves to the smaller screen of a Blackberry or iPhone I would be doubtful. On an iPad or other Tablet they will of course be fine. I am not aware if there is any work planned for a smart-phone app.

Tasks can develop organically – they can be discrete tasks or end up the parents of many children tasks.

Tasks - New Task screenshot

Creating a new task

Tasks can be categorized and tagged. You can also add Notes – such as memos – but should a note later need to become a task it can quickly be converted into one.

Tasks integrates with your Email – any message you receive can be forwarded to your Tasks and become converted into a task.

Tasks has its own internal search too – of both the title and its textual content. And though the text area does not support hyper-text there is an option to attach URL’s to those tasks.

As you would hope from a Task software you can prioritise them – firstly you can set a date for the task completion and then list all the Tasks chronologically.  Secondly you can assign priority and list your tasks on that basis.

You can make tasks Sticky too – which means if all the sub-tasks are complete but you want the parent task to remain it won’t then close.

And if you have tasks that recur you can set up a template so that you do not have to recreate their sub-task structure each time.

You can also customise the look of your Tasks with a number of available skins.

Finally your data is secure as you set up your own username and password.

A full list of features is included on this Crowd Favourite page including some of the required technical specifications.

I find it a very flexible and organic software that meets all my ‘to-do’ needs.

It allows me to make sense of my otherwise natural chaos! Like the web itself it gives your memory a rest – rather than pondering what I need to do today I can simply refer to my task list.

And the tasks themselves are not just the prosaic and mundane everyday business of my personal and professional life but my dreams too – big dreams need tiny first steps – which are but tasks to be initiated and hopefully completed.

So admin can be sexy – maybe!Crowd Favourite Logo

Duncan Bannatyne’s Twitter Feud – and old media sanctimony

Old media loves to attack and dismiss new media. Like a parent who admonishes their children and acts as if they were never a curious inquiring child themselves – repeating ever the parent sins.

And just as the printing press used to get blamed for the content of paperbacks and newspapers so now the World Wide Web gets blamed for the content of websites and social media platforms.

Scottish business entrepreneur and a panel-member of of the BBC program Dragons’ Den, Duncan Bannatyne, a few days back received a black-mail threat upon his daughter on Twitter. He in effect tweets back a bounty-offer to his followers offering cash for information leading to an arrest – and a bonus for anyone who finds and breaks their arms! – I follow him and only caught the latter part of this twitter-stream and was not sure whether it was serious or some running ruse – it turns out to be for real. One can understand his anger and that his emotions ran ahead of him – taking justice into his own hands and perhaps being in breach of a law or two in the process.

But on the online news sites and forums most of the comments were more keen to condemn Twitter and its users than condemn either the original blackmail threat or Duncan Bannatyne’s response to it. It being okay to make facile and troll like remarks on the Comments sections of News Sites just not within 140 characters on Twitter. Facebook got it in the neck too.

Twitter and Facebook may or may not be banal – that really depends on you and your friends, who you follow and in turn who follows you – the technology is not responsible for the foibles and imbecilities of any of its users. You can be foolish across all technologies, or you can forsake all technology and it won’t make you any more wiser or pleasant. No, that lies within you.

Also notable in such dismissals of social media sites are a number of pious posters incredulous that people use Twitter to communicate when they can use Email! I can but imagine that when Email started becoming wide-spread in the 1990’s these self-same people castigated Email users as idiots or other derogatory terms almost certainly mis-spelled – thundering abusively that why don’t they write a letter instead.

And so it goes – letter writers using keyboards chastised by letter writers using pen and ink – pen and ink scribes reviled by the users of the quill. They in turn ostracised for written communication by those who cannot and will not write because speaking was good enough for them and their parents before them without need for witchy hieroglyphics. So it goes back to the Neanderthal cave and those happy enough to grunt without any need for fancy progressive civilised wordy language.

Because for sure one day Facebook and Twitter will fade away ever more redundant and used only by the old of spirit ever oblivious to new developments – communication now literally a matter of thought with another bunch of Twitter Luddites decrying those that communicate telepathically – from companies with catchphrases like “Just Think of It’! – what’s the need when you can use Twitter they will rage, tweeting away their spleen thereafter.