Saturday, May 19, 2012


Camera lens filters and camera lenses explained. In this basic video guide from Adorama TV, Mark Wallace demonstrates exactly how to establish which size filter you require for your lenses, and the best type of camera filters to meet your needs. UV filters are the best for stopping UV rays, as well as safeguarding your precious lens. Polarizing filters assist in reducing reflections and improve saturation in blue skies.
UV filters are supposed to block UV light. So, for the newcomers to photography let's first look at what UV light is and why you would want to block it. The "traditional" visible spectrum runs from red to violet. Red light has the longest wavelength and violet the shortest. Light which has a longer wavelength than red is called infrared, and light which has a shorter wavelength than violet is called ultra violet or UV. The wavelength of light is measure in units of nanometers (abbreviated as nm), and 1nm is a billionth of a meter (that's a US billion or 1000 million, not a UK billion which is a million million!). Light shorter in wavelength than about 400nm is called ultra violet, light longer in wavelength than 700nm is called infrared.
So, now we know what UV light is, why would be want to block it? Well the answer lies in the way that color film works. There are basically three color sensitive layers, one sensitive to red light, one to green light and one to blue light. The blue layer not only responds to blue light, but also to UV light, so if there is a lot of UV around the blue sensitive layer gets extra exposure and the final image takes on a blue color. Since film isn't normally sensitive to infrared, you don't need an infrared blocking filter. Interestingly though, digital sensors are infrared sensitive and most digital cameras have an infrared blocking filter built in. Now there isn't usually a huge amount of UV around at sea level. There is some (that's what gives you a suntan or a sunburn) but most of it is scattered by the atmosphere. However as you gain altitude, for example by going up a mountain, the amount of UV increases. Under these conditions a UV filter can prevent a blue cast in photographs. Since UV filters look clear and neutral to the naked eye, some people also use them as a protective filter which they leave on their lens at all times. Some people think this is a good idea, other question the wisdom placing a $20 filter in front of a $1000 lens and potentially affecting image quality. Both schools of thought have some valid points. It's your choice. So if you buy a UV filter, you'd expect it to block UV right? Well, sometimes you'd be wrong as the results of this test show. I've looked at the range between 350nm and 400nm for UV blocking since the glass used in almost all lenses will itself block any light with a wavelength shorter than 350nm, so you don't need help from a filter there. The Tests The filters were measured using a calibrated UV/visible spectrophotometer which I had access to at the time of the tests. The plot below shows the transmission characteristics of a number of "UV filters". There are 3 "generic" type filters, a Millennium (marked "made in Japan"), a second Millennium (this one marked "made in China") and a Promaster, plus 3 "name brand" filters, a Tiffen UV protector, A Hoya UV filter and a B+W UV filter. As you can see from the plot, the 3 "generics" along with the Tiffen UV protector really did not cut any appreciable UV down to 350nm. The Hoya and B+W filters showed definite UV absorption, the Hoya being more effective at UV blocking.
Looking more closely at the plots for the four filters which did not show much UV absorption you can see that they are all quite similar. In fact the Millennium UV (Japan) and Promaster UV filters appear to be identical. They may well have been made by the same factory and branded with two different names. The Tiffen looks close enough that it too might even come from the same factory, or at least use the same type of glass.
In addition to the UV filters I also looked at a three filters often used in place of a UV filter (i.e. filters which some photographers keep on the lens at all times as protection). These are the Hoya 81B, the Tiffen 812 and the B+W KR1.5. All three are warming filters in that they shift the color balance towards the red (warm) end of the tonal range. I also included a Hoya circular polarizer, just because I had one around. As you can see all three of the warming filters were effective UV absorbers, as well as slight absorbers in the blue and green regions of the spectrum (which is what makes them warming filters). The polarizer absorbed slightly more in the UV than the visible, though I wouldn't call it an effective UV absorber.
Perhaps a more informative way of plotting the data is as a bar graph comparing transmission in the visible range (400nm to 650nm) to transmission in the UV range (350nm-400nm). This is shown below. Added to the group is data for a Tiffen Haze-1 filter, which you can see is VERY effective at blocking UV and a Hoya 1B, a slight warming filter. The four filters on the left clearly don't really absorb UV any more than they absorb visible light. They may be fine as lens protectors but don't make good UV blockers.
Another interesting way to look at UV blocking is to calculate the effective number of stops that the filter attenuates for the wavelengths between 350nm and 400nm compared to transmission in the visible. The data are plotted below on that basis. For example the Tiffen Haze-1 filter looks like a 5 stop filter to UV wavelengths in that range, while the low cost generics and the Tiffen UV protector show less than 0.1 stop attenuation of UV.
This last plot makes the order of UV absorbing effectiveness quite clear The Tiffen Haze-1 is best. It's a neutral filter so color balance is unaffected. Next is the Tiffen 812. Good UV blocking if you also want a warming filter The Hoya 81B is very similar to the Tiffen 812. The Hoya UV filter comes next, neutral, but with 2 stops of UV blocking. The B+W KR1.5 gives about 1.5 stops of UV blocking with slight warming. The Tiffen polarizer gives less than a stop of UV blocking, but that's not why you use a polarizer! The B+W and Hoya 1B aren't very good UV blockers. The 1B is slightly warming The three "generics" and the Tiffen UV protector are pretty useless for blocking UV, though they may make fine, neutral, lens protectors.

  My Pick What I actually use when I need a UV filter or a protective filter is a Tiffen 812. Usually, for the type of work I do, a warmer image isn't a problem, indeed it's often desirable. I also like to minimize the number of filters I carry so my 812 serves three functions. It blocks UV, it protects the lens and it's a warming filter. Some people use an 81B for this, but I slightly prefer the color shift of the 812. Not everyone wants a warming filter, so the clear winner for a neutral filter that really bocks UV is the Tiffen Haze-1, though the Hoya UV should also be pretty effective.

Friday, May 18, 2012

View the Partial Solar Eclipse (Streamed LIVE!)

Unless you're a penguin, you probably didn't see the solar eclipse that occurred last week over Antarctica, Tasmania, southern South Africa, and most of New Zealand. Fortunately, XRT was on the job to capture this spectacular footage of the event. And as a bonus resulting from Hinode's orbital mechanics, three eclipses are observed for every one seen from the ground! This was the last solar eclipse of 2011; the next one won't occur for another six months on May 20th, 2012. If it’s clear on May 20, you’ll be able to see about 84% of the Sun covered by the Moon from the San Francisco Bay Area. The eclipse begins at 5:16 pm, reaches the maximum coverage at 6:33 pm, and ends at 7:40 pm. As the eclipse goes on, the Sun will be lower and lower in the northwest sky, so you’ll need to find a viewing place not blocked by hills or houses. An eclipse of the Sun happens when the Moon gets between the Sun and the Earth and covers up some or all of the Sun. Sometimes the Moon covers up all of the Sun (a total eclipse), but more often only part of the Sun is covered (a partial eclipse.) This particular eclipse will not be total anywhere on Earth – even where the viewing is best, the Moon will still leave a ring of light around the edge of the Sun uncovered (this is called an annular eclipse.) The Moon is close to the furthest point from the Earth in its orbit, so it’s smaller in our sky and can’t fully cover the Sun. In the U.S., different cities in the western parts of the country will see different amounts of coverage, but in no case is the eclipse enough to make the day look darker. Thus most people will not even notice that the eclipse is going on. Looking directly at the Sun is VERY DANGEROUS to unprotected eyes, so it is best to go to an eclipse viewing site where they have safe viewing tools or to prepare a way to project an image of the Sun. The best way to see the eclipse is to project an image of the Sun (and not to look at the Sun directly.) One easy way is to make a pinhole projector: Take two pieces of cardboard or thick paper. Put a pinhole in one (taking care to make a clean hole). Then stand with your back to the Sun, and let the Sun’s light fall through the hole and onto the other sheet. You’ll get a small but distinct image of the Sun. (A way to get a sharper pinhole is to cut a square out of the middle of one cardboard, tape a sheet of aluminum foil over the hole and put the pinhole in the foil instead of paper.) To look at the Sun directly, you need a good filter that can cut out not just light but also ultraviolet and infrared waves. Sunglasses, exposed film, and smoked glass are NOT OK! If you have access to welder’s supplies (and not many people do), #14 arc-welder’s glass is an excellent filter (but it has to be #14 and not lower numbers). Or you can use special black or aluminized polymer filters/glasses available at many telescope stores or planetaria; but make sure you get them from a reliable source. You should definitely NOT look at the Sun through unfiltered binoculars or a telescope, because they concentrate the rays and make looking at the Sun MORE dangerous, not less. Only use such instruments if you have a reliable solar filter and know how to use it! Throughout the Bay Area, astronomy clubs and organizations will have eclipse parties for the public. Check out the website of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (www.astrosociety.org) for a listing. And for a national listing of astronomy clubs that like working with the public, see: http://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/club-map.cfm Find locations to view the eclipse in the San Francisco Bay area.


Earlier we reported on two separate cases where video evidence of police shot by random citizens wound up being crucial in the exoneration of photographers arrested while doing their job. Well, appropriately enough, the US Department of Justice just recently came out in defense of the right to record police while they are on duty. In an 11-page letter addressed to the Baltimore Police Department, the DOJ stated in no uncertain terms that “the press does not have a monopoly on either the First Amendment or the ability to enlighten,” and that the seizure of recording equipment and videos without a warrant constitutes a Fourteenth Amendment violation. The letter comes after the DOJ was unhappy with how the police department handled the case of one Mr. Christopher Sharp, who had his phone taken from him and all video evidence destroyed after he recorded the police arresting and beating his acquaintance. The courts attempted to dismiss Sharp’s case by citing an oft-used loophole in the law which allows officers to interfere with recordings if the person recording video is actively violating a law. Although the letter is addressed specifically to the Baltimore Police Department, the DOJ made it clear that the letter “reflects the United States’ position on the basic elements of a constitutionally adequate policy on individuals’ right to record police activity.” And many are hopeful that this sort of positive interference by the federal government will make citizens’ rights more clear and ensure that loopholes, like the one the BPD was using, will not be tolerated.

  OLDER STORY: Two photographers from opposite ends of the country found themselves in similar situations over the past few weeks. Although the charges leveled against each were different, both photogs were ultimately exonerated after video evidence was presented on their behalf. Amateur photographer Joshua Garland from Seattle and photojournalist Alexander Arbuckle from New York were charged with third-degree assault and disorderly conduct, respectively. After YouTube and Ustream videos by others in the area were presented as evidence, however, charges against Mr. Garland were dropped and Mr. Arbuckle was acquitted. The charges themselves aren’t disconcerting, but what is disconcerting is the fact that, at least in the Arbuckle case, video evidence seems to prove that the police weren’t only mistaken, but lied under oath in an attempt to make their charges against the photographer stick. And although it’s unclear what, if any, consequences the arresting officers in either case will face, many are hoping that the officers are charged with perjury. Until something changes though, especially when you’re dealing with protest photography, stay in sight of a video camera or two — you never know when that footage might come in handy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nick Veasey: Exposing the invisible

Nick Veasey shows outsized X-ray images that reveal the otherworldly inner workings of familiar objects -- from the geometry of a wildflower to the anatomy of a Boeing 747. Producing these photos is dangerous and painstaking, but the reward is a superpower: looking at what the human eye can't see. Nick Veasey is a British photographer working primarily with images created from X-ray imaging. Some of his works are partial photomanipulations with Photoshop.[1] He therefore, works with digital artists to realise his creations. Born in London in 1962, he worked in the advertising and design industries and pursued work in conventional still photography before being asked to X-ray a cola can for a television show. Veasey also X-rayed the shoes he was wearing on the day and upon showing the finished image to an art director, was galvanised by the response it provoked. He lives near Maidstone, England. His work has featured in many international advertising campaigns and adorned products and packaging worldwide, notably Adobe's Creative Suite livery and Lenor/Downy fabric conditioner.[2] In 2009, a major exhibition of works began at Maddox Fine Arts in Mayfair, London. Artworks are also exhibited in galleries internationally, with exhibitions running in 2010 in Europe, N America and Asia. Veasey's first collection of images collated into hardback format: X-ray: See Through The World Around You was recently released by Carlton/Goodman in the UK and Penguin in North America. The book collects images captured over a 13-year period of experimentation with X-ray imaging and equipment. He is the recipient of many photographic and design awards including IPA Lucie Awards, AOP, Graphis, Communication Arts, Applied Arts, PX3 and awards from the D&AD also being nominated for the IPA Lucie International Photographer of the Year 2008.[3] He claims to be responsible for realising possibly the largest X-ray[citation needed] to date, a life size Boeing 777 jet, which currently resides upon a hangar at Logan Airport, Boston.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Macro Photography – How to Photograph a Spider’s Web

Spiderwebs are beautiful, interesting and absolutely unique. Each one is a study in natural beauty and makes an excellent topic for close up photography. Unfortunately, their light and elastic nature, and the spider’s movement across the web can also make them challenging to photograph well. Photographing a spiderweb well is a combination of timing, position and patience.MORE

In this free sneak-peek lesson from video2brain's soon-to-be-released course Macro Photography Workshop, Tim Grey teaches you some macro photography tips and techniques to capture an awesome spider web image. You can find more information about Tim's course here

Select your day carefully

Some days are better for picturing spiderwebs than others. Any wind will blur the image, and complicate your image’s focus. Select a day that is very still to take your picture. The early morning hours are typically the stillest. Also, taking a photo just after a rain or when there is dew on the web will make each strand thicker, leaving the web more visible, and creating interesting reflective prisms inside the web.

Consider what is in the background of the shot

Consider what is behind the spiderweb, and select your photographic angle based on that, and not on the web itself. Spider web photographs which are taken with a dark background turn out best, because the spider web stands out in contrast. Also look for a background that is plain, anything distinct will detract from the spiderweb, pulling the viewer’s attention away from the web and toward the background.

 Select a focal point

 Examine the spider web and select an area that you want to serve as the focal point of the image. Perhaps your focal point is the spider itself on the web, or perhaps it is an area of the web with a particularly interesting pattern. Whatever the case, arrange the photo to frame, or focus on, this area.

 Set your camera

Set your camera to a macro setting, or switch to a macro lens. These are best suited to capturing a spiderweb’s details. Switch the camera to manual focusing and adjust the image depth and focus points by hand. This is essential because the string in the web is so fine, and being even a little out of focus will detract from the picture’s attention to detail. Set the camera on a tripod for greater stability and consistency.

 Capture the image

 Capture the image, respecting the conventions of good picture taking. Take the picture straight on, and fill the frame with the web. Make sure that the focal point you have selected is slightly off center, positioning the main object according to the law of thirds. Consider color, composition and balance.

 Edit and adjust

 View the picture snapped with a critical eye, decide what is missing and adjust. Repeat the process, taking pictures and making minor adjustments in placement, focus and framing until the perfect shot is captured.

 Final suggestions: 

If your photo is missing one or more of the elements that you most want to capture, and you have a good still day, consider making the magic moment happen. Spray the web with a fine mist of water from a squirt bottle to imitate dew. Feed the spider with store bought crickets to capture the feeding ritual. Shake the web to force the spider to change positions, to get it where you really want it.

via: http://www.photopoly.net/macro-photography-how-to-photograph-a-spiders-web/
and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJxbpfjJsYc


Here’s an interesting behind the scenes video that shows the creation of a Canon 500mm f/4.0L IS lens. It’s a neat look at the guts of glass, and an opportunity to see how exactly the various components of a lens are created and put together. You get to see the entire process, starting with raw materials and ending with the finished, $6,000 lens. Seeing how fine-tuned many of the steps in the process have to be, it’s no wonder these lenses can end up costing as much as a car. “Firstly, the front unit is assembled. Following a careful cleaning, the lenses are incorporated in the subbarrel. The fifth lens is the first to be placed, followed by the sixth lens. As the fifth lens is made of fluoride, extremely careful handling is required. As the lenses are directly incorporated deep into the front barrel, a high degree of technical skill is required. Next, the third and fourth lenses are incorporated into the subbarel. The first and second lenses are incorporated into the subbarrel. After each lens has been placed in its respective position in the subbarrel, they are firmly secured by mounting rings, and are fixed by adhesives. The EF 500mm is expertly assembled by the hands of skilled technicians. The seventh and eigth lenses used for focusing, are combined together and incorporated with the back unit into the rear barrel. The rear barrel in then attached to the completed front unit, and the EF 500mm lens begins to take on its final appearance. After focusing and other optical performances and checked, exterior components are attached. Both optical performance and electronic control functions of the completed EF 500mm f/4L IS USM are comprehensively inspected. This is the finished EF 500mm f/4L IS USM after completion of all processes. Canon optical lenses are a result of these varied production processes and are used throughout the world.” UPDATE:In sharp contrast to the Leica way of doing things by hand, Canon has just announced that it is planning on completely eliminating the need for a human production line as early as 2015. So while your future Leica M10 will still be completely hand-made (with a price tag to match), your future 5D Mark IV (or maybe Mark VI by then) will be entirely robot-made. Fortunately, Canon spokesperson Jan Misumi assured the press that the move won’t lead to job losses, as employees will be moved into other parts of the company. But it does seem to take a little bit of the humanity you see in the Leica making of video out of camera manufacturing. ANOTHER COOL LENS MOVIE:

Monday, May 14, 2012

TED TALKS-James Nachtwey's Searing Photos Of War

TED TALKS READ ALONG: As someone who has spent his entire career trying to be invisible, standing in front of an audience is a cross between an out-of-body experience and a deer caught in the headlights, so please forgive me for violating one of the TED commandments by relying on words on paper, and I only hope I'm not struck by lightning bolts before I'm done. I'd like to begin by talking about some of the ideas that motivated me to become a documentary photographer. I was a student in the '60s, a time of social upheaval and questioning, and on a personal level, an awakening sense of idealism. The war in Vietnam was raging; the Civil Rights Movement was under way; and pictures had a powerful influence on me. Our political and military leaders were telling us one thing, and photographers were telling us another. I believed the photographers, and so did millions of other Americans. Their images fueled resistance to the war and to racism. They not only recorded history; they helped change the course of history. Their pictures became part of our collective consciousness and, as consciousness evolved into a shared sense of conscience, change became not only possible, but inevitable. I saw that the free flow of information represented by journalism, specifically visual journalism, can bring into focus both the benefits and the cost of political policies. It can give credit to sound decision-making, adding momentum to success. In the face of poor political judgment or political inaction, it becomes a kind of intervention, assessing the damage and asking us to reassess our behavior. It puts a human face on issues which from afar can appear abstract or ideological or monumental in their global impact. What happens at ground level, far from the halls of power, happens to ordinary citizens one by one. And I understood that documentary photography has the ability to interpret events from their point of view. It gives a voice to those who otherwise would not have a voice. And as a reaction, it stimulates public opinion and gives impetus to public debate, thereby preventing the interested parties from totally controlling the agenda, much as they would like to. Coming of age in those days made real the concept that the free flow of information is absolutely vital for a free and dynamic society to function properly. The press is certainly a business, and in order to survive it must be a successful business, but the right balance must be found between marketing considerations and journalistic responsibility. Society's problems can't be solved until they're identified. On a higher plane, the press is a service industry, and the service it provides is awareness. Every story does not have to sell something. There's also a time to give. That was a tradition I wanted to follow. Seeing the war created such incredibly high stakes for everyone involved and that visual journalism could actually become a factor in conflict resolution -- I wanted to be a photographer in order to be a war photographer. But I was driven by an inherent sense that a picture that revealed the true face of war would almost by definition be an anti-war photograph. I'd like to take you on a visual journey through some of the events and issues I've been involved in over the past 25 years. In 1981, I went to Northern Ireland. 10 IRA prisoners were in the process of starving themselves to death in protest against conditions in jail. The reaction on the streets was violent confrontation. I saw that the front lines of contemporary wars are not on isolated battlefields, but right where people live. During the early '80s, I spent a lot of time in Central America, which was engulfed by civil wars that straddled the ideological divide of the Cold War. In Guatemala, the central government -- controlled by a oligarchy of European decent -- was waging a scorched Earth campaign against an indigenous rebellion, and I saw an image that reflected the history of Latin America: conquest through a combination of the Bible and the sword. An anti-Sandinista guerrilla was mortally wounded as Commander Zero attacked a town in Southern Nicaragua. A destroyed tank belonging to Somoza's national guard was left as a monument in a park in Managua, and was transformed by the energy and spirit of a child. At the same time, a civil war was taking place in El Salvador, and again, the civilian population was caught up in the conflict. I've been covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since 1981. This is a moment from the beginning of the second intifada, in 2000, when it was still stones and Molotovs against an army. In 2001, the uprising escalated into an armed conflict, and one of the major incidents was the destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin. Without the political will to find common ground, the continual friction of tactic and counter-tactic only creates suspicion and hatred and vengeance, and perpetuates the cycle of violence. In the '90s, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia fractured along ethnic fault lines, and civil war broke out between Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. This is a scene of house-to-house fighting in Mostar, neighbor against neighbor. A bedroom, the place where people share intimacy, where life itself is conceived, became a battlefield. A mosque in northern Bosnia was destroyed by Serbian artillery and was used as a makeshift morgue. Dead Serbian soldiers were collected after a battle and used as barter for the return of prisoners or Bosnian soldiers killed in action. This was once a park. The Bosnian soldier who guided me told me that all of his friends were there now. At the same time in South Africa, after Nelson Mandela had been released from prison, the black population commenced the final phase of liberation from apartheid. One of the things I had to learn as a journalist was what to do with my anger. I had to use it, channel its energy, turn it into something that would clarify my vision, instead of clouding it. In Transkei, I witnessed a rite of passage into manhood, of the Xhosa tribe. Teenage boys lived in isolation, their bodies covered with white clay. After several weeks, they washed off the white and took on the full responsibilities of men. It was a very old ritual that seemed symbolic of the political struggle that was changing the face of South Africa. Children in Soweto playing on a trampoline. Elsewhere in Africa there was famine. In Somalia, the central government collapsed and clan warfare broke out. Farmers were driven off their land, and crops and livestock were destroyed or stolen. Starvation was being used as a weapon of mass destruction -- primitive but extremely effective. Hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated, slowly and painfully. The international community responded with massive humanitarian relief, and hundreds of thousands of more lives were saved. American troops were sent to protect the relief shipments, but they were eventually drawn into the conflict, and after the tragic battle in Mogadishu, they were withdrawn. In southern Sudan, another civil war saw similar use of starvation as a means of genocide. Again, international NGOs, united under the umbrella of the U.N., staged a massive relief operation and thousands of lives were saved. I'm a witness, and I want my testimony to be honest and uncensored. I also want it to be powerful and eloquent, and to do as much justice as possible to the experience of the people I'm photographing. This man was in an NGO feeding center, being helped as much as he could be helped. He literally had nothing. He was a virtual skeleton, yet he could still summon the courage and the will to move. He had not given up, and if he didn't give up, how could anyone in the outside world ever dream of losing hope? In 1994, after three months of covering the South African election, I saw the inauguration of Nelson Mandela, and it was the most uplifting thing I've ever seen. It exemplified the best that humanity has to offer. The next day I left for Rwanda, and it was like taking the express elevator to hell. This man had just been liberated from a Hutu death camp. He allowed me to photograph him for quite a long time, and he even turned his face toward the light, as if he wanted me to see him better. I think he knew what the scars on his face would say to the rest of the world. This time, maybe confused or discouraged by the military disaster in Somalia, the international community remained silent, and somewhere around 800,000 people were slaughtered by their own countrymen -- sometimes their own neighbors -- using farm implements as weapons. Perhaps because a lesson had been learned by the weak response to the war in Bosnia and the failure in Rwanda, when Serbia attacked Kosovo, international action was taken much more decisively. NATO forces went in, and the Serbian army withdrew. Ethnic Albanians had been murdered, their farms destroyed and a huge number of people forcibly deported. They were received in refugee camps set up by NGOs in Albania and Macedonia. The imprint of a man who had been burned inside his own home. The image reminded me of a cave painting, and echoed how primitive we still are in so many ways. Between 1995 and '96, I covered the first two wars in Chechnya from inside Grozny. This is a Chechen rebel on the front line against the Russian army. The Russians bombarded Grozny constantly for weeks, killing mainly the civilians who were still trapped inside. I found a boy from the local orphanage wandering around the front line. My work has evolved from being concerned mainly with war to a focus on critical social issues as well. After the fall of Ceausescu, I went to Romania and discovered a kind of gulag of children, where thousands of orphans were being kept in medieval conditions. Ceausescu had imposed a quota on the number of children to be produced by each family, thereby making women's bodies an instrument of state economic policy. Children who couldn't be supported by their families were raised in government orphanages. Children with birth defects were labeled incurables, and confined for life to inhuman conditions. As reports began to surface, again international aid went in. Going deeper into the legacy of the Eastern European regimes, I worked for several months on a story about the effects of industrial pollution, where there had been no regard for the environment or the health of either workers or the general population. An aluminum factory in Czechoslovakia was filled with carcinogenic smoke and dust, and four out of five workers came down with cancer. After the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, I began to explore conditions of poverty in a country that was on its way towards modernization. I spent a good deal of time with a man who lived with his family on a railway embankment and had lost an arm and a leg in a train accident. When the story was published, unsolicited donations poured in. A trust fund was established, and the family now lives in a house in the countryside and all their basic necessities are taken care of. It was a story that wasn't trying to sell anything. Journalism had provided a channel for people's natural sense of generosity, and the readers responded. I met a band of homeless children who'd come to Jakarta from the countryside, and ended up living in a train station. By the age of 12 or 14, they'd become beggars and drug addicts. The rural poor had become the urban poor, and in the process, they'd become invisible. These heroin addicts in detox in Pakistan reminded me of figures in a play by Beckett: isolated, waiting in the dark, but drawn to the light. Agent Orange was a defoliant used during the Vietnam War to deny cover to the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army. The active ingredient was dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical that was sprayed in vast quantities, and whose effects passed through the genes to the next generation. In 2000, I began documenting global health issues, concentrating first on AIDS in Africa. I tried to tell the story through the work of caregivers. I thought it was important to emphasize that people were being helped, whether by international NGOs or by local grassroots organizations. So many children have been orphaned by the epidemic that grandmothers have taken the place of parents, and a lot of children had been born with HIV. A hospital in Zambia. I began documenting the close connection between HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. This is an MSF hospital in Cambodia. My pictures can play a supporting role to the work of NGOs by shedding light on the critical social problems they're trying to deal with. I went to Congo with MSF, and contributed to a book and an exhibition that focused attention on a forgotten war in which millions of people have died, and exposure to disease without treatment is used as a weapon. A malnourished child being measured as part of the supplemental feeding program. In the fall of 2004 I went to Darfur. This time I was on assignment for a magazine, but again worked closely with MSF. The international community still hasn't found a way to create the pressure necessary to stop this genocide. An MSF hospital in a camp for displaced people. I've been working on a long project on crime and punishment in America. This is a scene from New Orleans. A prisoner on a chain gang in Alabama was punished by being handcuffed to a post in the midday sun. This experience raised a lot of questions, among them questions about race and equality and for whom in our country opportunities and options are available. In the yard of a chain gang in Alabama. I didn't see either of the planes hit, and when I glanced out my window, I saw the first tower burning, and I thought it might have been an accident. A few minutes later when I looked again and saw the second tower burning, I knew we were at war. In the midst of the wreckage at Ground Zero, I had a realization. I'd been photographing in the Islamic world since 1981 -- not only in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia and Europe. At the time I was photographing in these different places, I thought I was covering separate stories, but on 9/11 history crystallized, and I understood I'd actually been covering a single story for more than 20 years, and the attack on New York was its latest manifestation. The central commercial district of Kabul, Afghanistan at the end of the civil war, shortly before the city fell to the Taliban. Land mine victims being helped at the Red Cross rehab center being run by Alberto Cairo. A boy who lost a leg to a leftover mine. I'd witnessed immense suffering in the Islamic world from political oppression, civil war, foreign invasions, poverty, famine. I understood that in its suffering, the Islamic world had been crying out. Why weren't we listening? A Taliban fighter shot during a battle as the Northern Alliance entered the city of Kunduz. When war with Iraq was imminent, I realized the American troops would be very well covered, so I decided to cover the invasion from inside Baghdad. A marketplace was hit by a mortar shell that killed several members of a single family. A day after American forces entered Baghdad, a company of Marines began rounding up bank robbers and were cheered on by the crowds -- a hopeful moment that was short lived. For the first time in years, Shi'ites were allowed to make the pilgrimage to Karbala to observe Ashura, and I was amazed by the sheer number of people and how fervently they practiced their religion. A group of men march through the streets cutting themselves with knives. It was obvious that the Shi'ites were a force to be reckoned with, and we would do well to understand them and learn how to deal with them. Last year I spent several months documenting our wounded troops, from the battlefield in Iraq all the way home. This is a helicopter medic giving CPR to a soldier who had been shot in the head. Military medicine has become so efficient that the percentage of troops who survive after being wounded is much higher in this war than in any other war in our history. The signature weapon of the war is the IED, and the signature wound is severe leg damage. After enduring extreme pain and trauma, the wounded face a grueling physical and psychological struggle in rehab. The spirit they displayed was absolutely remarkable. I tried to imagine myself in their place, and I was totally humbled by their courage and determination in the face of such catastrophic loss. Good people had been put in a very bad situation for questionable results. One day in rehab someone, started talking about surfing and all these guys who'd never surfed before said, "Hey, let's go." And they went surfing. Photographers go to the extreme edges of human experience to show people what's going on. Sometimes they put their lives on the line, because they believe your opinions and your influence matter. They aim their pictures at your best instincts, generosity, a sense of right and wrong, the ability and the willingness to identify with others, the refusal to accept the unacceptable. My TED wish: there's a vital story that needs to be told, and I wish for TED to help me gain access to it and then to help me come up with innovative and exciting ways to use news photography in the digital era. Thank you very much. James Nachtwey (born March 14, 1948[1]) is an American photojournalist and war photographer. He grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he studied Art History and Political Science (1966–70).[2] He has been awarded the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Gold Medal five times. In 2003, he was injured by a grenade in an attack on his convoy while serving as a Time contributing correspondent in Baghdad, from which he has made a full recovery. Nachtwey started working as a newspaper photographer in 1976 at the Albuquerque Journal. In 1980, he moved to New York and began working as a freelance photographer. In 1981, Nachtwey covered his first overseas assignment in Northern Ireland illustrating civil strife. He has documented a variety of armed conflicts and social issues, spending time in South Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union shooting pictures of war, conflict and famine, and images of socio-political issues (pollution, crime and punishment) in Western Europe and the United States. He currently lives in New York City. In 1994, Nachtwey was covering the upcoming elections in South Africa, the first non-racial ones in decades. As an associate of the Bang-Bang Club, he was at the scene when Ken Oosterbroek was killed and Greg Marinovich was seriously injured. Nachtwey had been injured previously in his work, but it was during his extensive coverage of the United States invasion of Iraq that he received his first combat injury. As Nachtwey, along with Time correspondent Michael Weisskopf rode in the back of a Humvee with the United States Army "Tomb Raiders" Survey Platoon, an insurgent threw a grenade into the vehicle. Weisskopf grabbed the grenade to throw it out of the humvee, but it exploded in his hand. Two soldiers were injured in the explosion, along with the Time journalists. Nachtwey managed to take several photographs of medic Billie Grimes treating Weisskopf before passing out. Both journalists were airlifted to Germany and later to hospitals in the United States. Nachtwey recovered sufficiently to return overseas to cover the tsunami in Southeast Asia of December 26, 2004.[3] Nachtwey has worked with Time as a contract photographer since 1984. He worked for Black Star from 1980 until 1985 and was a member of Magnum Photos from 1986 until 2001. In 2001, he was a founding member of the VII Photo Agency (he disassociated from VII in August 2011)[4] Nachtwey was present during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, and produced a well known related body of work. He also compiled a photo essay on the effects of the Sudan conflict on civilians. In February 2011, Nachtwey contributed to a controversial piece for Vogue Magazine, which shone a favorable light on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his family.[5] The article and the photo series were particularly controversial as a peaceful protest movement in the context of the Arab Spring that was gathering steam at the same time, was brutally put down by the Syrian regime's military and secret police services. By December 2011, death toll estimates of the uprising ranged between 3,500 and 5,000, while an approximate 30,000 civilians were imprisoned and, in many cases, tortured severely. Vogue later decided to remove the article from its pages. Nevertheless, the article can still be accessed on the Syrian presidency's own website.[5] [edit]Awards, honors and films Nachtwey photographs have been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States and he has received numerous prizes and awards including the World Press Photo award in 1994. Nachtwey has also been awarded the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1994 and 1998. In 2001, the documentary War Photographer was released, focusing on Nachtwey and his work. Directed by Christian Frei, the film received an Academy Award nomination for best documentary film. Nachtwey received the prestigious Dan David Prize in 2002 for his haunting photos aimed to burden viewers with an uncomfortable awareness that will force them to seek justice and change. In 2006, Nachtwey was awarded the 12th Annual Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities from the Heinz Family Foundation for his body of work,[6] an honor that includes a monetary prize of US $250,000. Nachtwey is one of three winners of the 2007 TED Prize. Each recipient was granted $100,000 and one "world-changing wish" to be revealed at the 2007 TED conference, in Monterey, California. Many members of the TED Community, and a group of world-class companies, have pledged support to help fulfill the wishes. Nachtwey's wish, revealed March 8, 2007, is this: "There's a vital story that needs to be told, and I wish for TED to help me gain access to it and then to help me come up with innovative and exciting ways to use news photography in the digital era."[7] Those who wish to help him will sign an NDA and help him "gain access to a place in the world where a critical situation is occurring and fully document it with photography; set a date to unveil the pictures and find a series of innovative ways to create powerful impact with them, using novel display technologies and the power of the Internet as well as media; and use the campaign to generate resources for organizations that are working to address and transform the situation." Early results of this work have been unveiled at XDRTB.org to document extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis throughout the world. In 2008, Nachtwey exhibited a series of original photographs at Le Laboratoire in Paris, France. The exhibit entitled "Struggle For Life"[8] documented the human toll of TB and AIDS presented the work of Nachtwey with text by Dr. Anne Goldfeld of work they began together in Cambodia in 2003[9] as well as photos from Thailand, Africa and Siberia. The work was accompanied by film portraits of Nachtwey and several leading medical scientists participating in the Attention! Symposium by American filmmaker Asa Mader.