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PBN 2011 Winners

PBN 2011 Grand Prize Winner from Blurb Books on Vimeo.

PBN 2011 Category Winners from Blurb Books on Vimeo.

This year’s Grand Prize winner is an innovative and moving “book-within-a-book” that chronicles the mafia-controlled streets of Naples through the accidental killing of a young girl. Valerio Spada combines on-the-street photography with photos of the original police documents to show, in the author’s words, “the problems of becoming a woman in a dangerous, crime-ridden area. Adolescence is almost denied.”
Gomorrah Girl was chosen by an international panel of 12 judges from more than 2,300 entries in four different categories. Valerio Spada received a $25,000 cash prize courtesy of HP Indigo Digital Press.
The panel of international judges also chose four books as the best in their respective categories – Fine Art, Documentary, Travel, and Student. Each winner received a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Adobe®. Lead PBN 2011 Juror Darius Himes discusses the category winners.

Find out more about Blurb’s PBN contest here.
Learn more about making Blurb books in these bookmaking videos.
Preview my digital photography books here.
 

Unsharp Mask



Precise sharpening can improve almost any image. It helps to know when to apply it, what type of sharpening to apply, how to apply it and where to apply it. Forget the filters Sharpen, Sharpen More and Sharpen Edges. They're just default settings of Unsharp Mask. Even Smart Sharpen offers few advantages over Unsharp Mask; it's particularly useful for compensating for trace, but not substantial, amounts of motion blur. My advice? Start with the classic and master it.
Why is a filter that makes images appear sharper called Unsharp Mask? In silver-halide-based photography, unsharp masks are made with out-of-focus negatives that are registered with an original positive image. During exposure, the blurring adds contrast around contours, making images appear sharper. Digital unsharp mask works the same way; it uses blurring algorithms to add contrast to contours, again making images appear sharper.


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Green Action – Bottled Water


Be more green!
You can make a difference today!
Many small changes can make a big change!
And save a lot!
Take action now!
Here’s one idea.
Stop drinking bottled water, whenever practical.
Replace bottled water with your own reusable bottle and water you filter at home. Many people like Nalgene bottles. It takes 2,000 times more energy to produce a bottle of water than it does to produce tap water.69% of bottled water containers end up in the trash and not in a recycling container. In 2008, the U.S. used enough plastic water bottles to stretch around the Earth more than 190 times.
If your tap water’s not great, use a Brita filter to get great-tasting water without so much waste. The average Brita pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day. To get the same amount  from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9 ounce water bottles a year
Imagine how much you’d save when you stop drinking bottled water.
Find more resources that will help you take action now here.
Find environmental organizations to support here.

Hipstamiticophilia – Ragnar Th Sigurdsson


While guiding me on my Iceland photography workshop, Ragnar Th Sigurdsson rediscovered iPhone photography. He got obsessed with the App Hipstamatic, which produces photographs with terrific lo-mo effects. He started seeing differently. In addition to making many images with higher end photography equipment, he produced over 1000 new iPhone images in a few days.
We discussed the differences. Here are some of our thoughts.
The iPhone is smaller than most cameras. This makes it easier to position it in places you couldn’t place a DSLR. (Plus, the iPhone’s depth of field is very large and it can be focussed at very close range.)The iPhone’s small scale also changes interpersonal dynamics between the photographer and human subjects; people feel more at ease with what’s perceived as a more casual act, you can make contact with both eyes, and allowing the subject to see the picture while it’s being made (instead of after) provides a dynamic feedback loop of action and reaction or pose and repose.
The iPhone’s screen offers a large sharp preview and allows simultaneous comparison between an unaided view and the view as rendered by the device, in low light. In bright light, it’s often difficult to see image details on screen, producing a change in perception; broad structural relationships are seen without embellishment. (Low fidelity or distressed images emphasize this quality. When done well, they become perfectly imperfect. And the novel look generated elicits viewer responses which are markedly different than high fidelity renderings.)
Results are almost instantaneous. Images are processed in seconds or minutes, often on the spot, allowing a direct comparison and contrast between the scene and the image produced.
The practice of cell phone photography is significantly different enough that it encourages a great deal of experimentation. I recommend it to anyone who’s passionate about photography.
Cell phone photographs and the process of making them can be delightfully spontaneous.
Here’s a selection of Ragnar th Sigurdsson’s iPhone photographs made with the App Hipstamatic.
Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.
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Cartooning Our Way Through Iceland


We have a lot of fun in my workshops. Often, we use our iPhones to stimulate creativity. We try all sorts of creative experiments. This trip, one of the experiments I tried was creating cartoons of participants as superheroes or supervillains. It all started when our guide Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson put a luggage label on his chest with a fragile icon. I made a not sign on it with a Sharpee pen and he became Captain Unbreakable. Then I made an ironic cartoon of him with my iPhone. (Apps used are Toon Paint, Pic Grunger, and Label Box.) Everyone was laughing. Everyone wanted to play. We laughed our way through Iceland.
Because we were playing this game, we thought frequently about what text could/would accompany our images – titles, captions, essays and more. Frequently, a little levity can lead to useful creative insights.
Here are some of the images from these ongoing hijinks.
Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.
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Track Your Influences




Frequently, old ideas and feelings surface in the midst of our creative process. Tracking our own fixations and chains of association can be both revealing and rewarding.
The paintings of Morris Graves made a big impression on me at an early age. Ever since, I been interested in photographs of dead animals, particularly birds. I even made some of my own.
I stumbled into this territory, once again, by chance, while photographing on the side of the road in Iceland. I quickly made this sketch with my iPhone. I knew what was happening while I was doing it, because I’d already done a lot of observation of my creative process and soul searching. I recommend you do the same for yourself. You’ll be richly rewarded with highly personal insights.
Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.
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New Images – Workshop Participants – Iceland 2011


We do lightning fast reviews of participant’s images in my digital photography workshops. We discuss what works and why and what doesn’t and why not. It’s wonderful to see how different the images are, made by individuals in the same situations using the same tools. A lot of learning happens by simply sharing images and spontaneous responses to them.
Here’s a sampling from participants in my 2011 Iceland workshop.
Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.
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