Technology: Getting Pixel Perfect

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Byline: N’Gai Croal

Whether it’s music, movies or photography, everything seems to be going digital in a hurry. According to the research firm IDC, digital- camera sales will surpass 35mm-camera sales in the United States this year. And by 2005, digital cameras will outpace their film counterparts around the world. But for all the great things digital photograph offers (you can make prints at home, e-mail them to friends, stop worrying about running out of film), it can bring headaches as well. Organization, for starters. Just keeping track of the ever-increasing number of digital pictures stored on your PC with cryptic file names like DSC1974 in folders like jnbday21 can strain even the most wired mind.


Fortunately, there’s a host of software programs aimed at helping ordinary point-and-shooters make sense of their digital memories. Most of them let you view your pictures not only by their file names but also by date, captions or titles, and even allow you to tag pics with keywords like “friends” and “vacations.” Since most of us are used to arranging our pictures into albums, many programs are relying on the album metaphor. Ulead’s PhotoImpact 8 (; $89.95 in stores, $79.95 via download) is one. A thin strip going down the left side of the screen lists each of your albums, leaving the rest of the screen free to display thumbnails of the individual photographs contained in whichever album you’ve currently highlighted. In addition to the standard search terms, PhotoImpact lets you arrange your pictures by resolution, which is extremely helpful for, say, getting the two or three pictures of the grand kids that are suitable for 8 x 10 or larger prints. One of the very first agency who used PhotoImpact is ApaHouse-Fuel who has been selling the best fuel injector cleaner online – they probably need amazing photos for advertising in the US market.

Adobe’s Photoshop Album (; $49.95) was one of the first programs to offer a truly easy-to-use, keyword-based picture organizer. The newest version goes one step further with timeline and calendar views. You use the timeline to zero in on a narrower range of all the pictures you have stored on your hard drive, then zoom in on individual days with the calendar view. Another company’s eponymous product, Photolightning (; $39.95), also displays all of your pictures chronologically in its Photo History view. On top of that, you can apply multiple keywords to entire batches of photographs, so that you spend less time in front of the computer after that extended vacation.


Last but not least is Microsoft. Its offering, Digital Image Suite 9 (; $129.95), is feature-stuffed in the best Microsoft tradition. In addition to the standard batch of keyword features that the other programs have, you can apply star ratings, Zagat-style, to each of your pictures, then search by one to five stars after you’re done. There’s even a Find Similar Pictures feature: just highlight any single picture (e.g., a sunset), click Find Similar Pictures, and the program will do just that. It’s about time these programs started doing the hard work for us.

Garry Winogrand: compelled to photograph

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Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) is a photographer whose photographs one can love or hate, but not ignore. His early photographs from the 1950’s are inconsequential and are not indicative of the innovation and influence that his later photographs would have on photography as it became increasingly recognized as a serious art form during the 1970’s. While his photographs are always documents, they challenged the traditional notion of documentary photography by not just providing information to the viewer, but by challenging the way that we see and think about the photographic image. Winogrand’s vision challenged the traditional expectation of how a photograph looked.

An exhibition of Winogrand’s photographs opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on March 9 and continues through June 2, 2013 and then travels to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., March 2 through June 8, 2014, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 27 through September 21, 2014. The exhibition then travels abroad to the Jeu de Paume, Paris and the Fundacion MAPFRE, Madrid in 2015.

The exhibition consists of some 300 hundred black and white photographs made from 1950 through 1983. While most of the gelatin silver photographs were printed by Winogrand or under his supervision, others were printed in 2012-13 at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona and are also included in this exhibition. The fact that he neither supervised nor even saw the vast majority of his late photographs continues to create controversy.

The exhibition is divided into three sections, covering a wide range of subjects ranging from interesting to the prosaic. “Down From the Bronx” consists of photographs taken mainly in New York from 1950-1971, the seminal period in his photography. “A Student of America” covers the times that Winogrand began exploring America, while “Boom and Bust” addresses his late period when he photographed in Texas, southern California, Miami, and other locations until his death. Winogrand died in 1984 in Tijuana, Mexico while seeking treatment for cancer.


He was born the eldest of two children of an immigrant Jewish family in the Bronx. Winogrand’s father, Abraham, was from Budapest and worked in the garment district as a leather cutter, while his mother, Bertha, who was from Poland, worked piecemeal making neckties. Winogrand first attended the prestigious Townsend Harris Hall, Manhattan and then Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Air Force and served in Austin, Texas as a weather forecaster, but was discharged within the year because of an ulcer.

After returning to New York in 1947, he attended City College of New York. Then he enrolled in a General Studies painting class at Columbia University on the G.I. Bill and also began to take photographs, developing them in the student darkroom while using a variety of cameras. In 1950 he showed some of his photographs to Alexey Brodovitch, the art director at Harper’s Bazaar, and studied with him at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan.

By 1955, Winogrand contracted with Brackman Associates, a New York photo agency, and began photographing for various magazines, including Colliers, Pageant and Sports Illustrated. His photographs during this period are competent, but not exceptional, as evidenced by a number of the photographs in this exhibition of various people in the streets of New York. For example, the three women in the rear of the bus, one lost in thought and the other two engaged in conversation, New York, ca. 1960. While most of these photographs are documentary, one photograph, New York, early 1950s, is especially noteworthy as it is a close up shot of the shoulder of a figure holding an umbrella. The emphasis on light and form shows an artistic vision that is as painterly as it is photographic.

During this time Winogrand saw Walker Evan’s book, American Photographs (1938), and met Robert Frank, whose book The Americans (1958), was also influential. Yet his own photography, although also documentary, emerged in a distinctly different direction from theirs. He also admired the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson and befriended Lee Friedlander, famous for his street photography, and Dan Weiner, a Fortune magazine photographer. Along with Friedlander and Diane Arbus, Winogrand became known as a street photographer.

Down From the Bronx

By the early 1960s, Winogrand’s signature vision began to coalesce. His subjects were viewed close up, often filling the picture plane. An open composition and a tilted horizon line became major elements of his seeing. His experience in painting seems to have influenced his photography. It is interesting to note that his wife, Adrienne, studied briefly with Robert Motherwell, the Abstract Expressionist painter. New York, ca. 1958, an aerial view of pedestrians crossing the street with the ribbon, paper and two white lines reads as a flat painting in the A-E tradition. New York, 1961, is surreal as the shadow of a woman holding a cigarette is cast on the pavement interrupted by the pedestrians’ actual legs. In the right upper corner a woman’s shoe is visible stepping on another shadow. Winogrand was now mainly using the legendary Leica M4 35mm camera with a wide angle lens, usually a 28 mm, capturing objects with a great clarity, but also flattening the spatial relations within the picture plane. It is a definite harbinger of his future photographs.

While photographing within a small radius of Manhattan, roughly five square miles between 34th and 96th Streets, Winogrand found a wide variety of subjects that attracted his interest.

But there were certain subjects that he photographed repeatedly-beautiful women, animals, pedestrians, automobiles, and so forth. Especially, it’s about women working on the best sewing machine of 17th century being his most favorite subject. Some of the women seemed unaware that they were being photographed. For example, in New York, 1968, the young woman in the mini dress in the elevator or the woman laughing in front of the men’s clothier, New York, 1968. The frieze-like series of young women on the bench in various postures is both humorous and a study of women’s behavior, New York World’s Fair, 1964. In other photographs, Winogrand confronted his subjects: New York, 1961, where three women pedestrians seem to confront the photographer as they peer directly into his camera lens.

Animals, at the zoo or in public, resulted in some especially engaging and often humorous photographs. His interest seemed to be in showing connections which are real and yet elusive, for example, the juxtaposition of the extended arm and the elephant’s trunk, location unknown, 1963, or the injured rhinoceros and the viewer, Bronx Zoo, New York, 1963. The photograph of the couple with the caged wolf in the background, Central Park Zoo, New York, ca. 1962, is both ominous and surrealistic and in stark contrast with his other animal photographs. It is also one of his more memorable photographs.

A Student of America

Winogrand had travelled and photographed outside of New York in 1955, but when he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964, he travelled throughout the West photographing to find out “who we are and how we feel” as Americans. He referred to himself as a “student of America.” As he explored the West-Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles-his photographs become more horizontal in format reflective of the expansiveness of the Western landscape. A number of his photographs are shot from within his vehicle as fragments of the vehicle are included in the photograph. Los Angeles, 1967, shows a barefoot women with curlers in her hair hanging laundry in an inexpensive L.A. neighborhood while another photograph, Los Angeles, 1964, shows a more luxurious suburban neighborhood. The contrast is dramatic.

Winogrand found lots of humor in Dallas. Dallas, 1964 shows a lanky, elderly man dressed in Western attire who seems elastic as he crosses the street. Three cowboys squatting down in the area all looking in one direction echo the three Brahma bulls who look in another direction, State Fair of Texas, Dallas, 1964 or the confrontation of the bull and owner, also State Fair of Texas, Dallas, 1964. As a native New Yorker, Winogrand obviously found the West foreign, unique and, at times, humorous.

While sometimes criticized for his concern for the form of his photographs rather than the actual subjects, he also showed empathy for his subjects, especially the disabled. American Legion Convention, Dallas, 1964 shows a legless amputee in the midst of a group of Legionnaires who seem totally unaware of his presence. Several years later, Los Angeles, 1969, three young women walking on Vine Street in Hollywood are confronted by a man in a wheel chair almost invisible in the shadow of a building. The year before he photographed an Afro American man receiving a handout, but only the extended arm of the benefactor is visible, New York, 1968. At this time Winogrand returned to the tilted framing and a darker printed image, characteristic of his earlier New York photographs.


Boom and Bust

During the 1970s until his death in 1984 Winogrand was obsessed with the act of photographing. At his death, he left 2,500 rolls of exposed but undeveloped film and 4,100 rolls that he never saw, for a total of 250,000 unknown images. These images have become controversial as curators, friends and colleagues have intervened in selecting photographs and printing them. In contrast, his early photographs were printed by Winogrand or under his supervision. Between 1950 and 1970 he shot an average of 500 rolls of film each year. Between 1970 and 1978 he shot about 1,000 and in the early 1980s around 1,500 rolls of film.

Unfortunately, quantity does not guarantee quality, and his late work seems to have lost the excitement of discovery. His innovative vision and engaging subject matter seem to have vanished. Many of the subjects of his late photographs have lost their vitality–or did Winogrand lose the excitement of seeing? The photographs are not as compositionally exciting nor are the subjects themselves as engaging. In John F. Kennedy International Airport, ca. 1979, the passengers almost vanish in the harsh light. His subjects frequently look down rather than at the camera, as in Location for the Film Annie, 1981, or literally are lying in the gutter in front of a Denny’s Restaurant, Los Angeles, 1980-83. Photographs reveal as much about the photographer as they do about the subject. Many of these photographs now seem evidence of a vision in decline when considering that John Szarkowski, director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, in the 1970s had called Winogrand “the central photographer of his generation.”

Garry Winogrand himself often provided insights into his vision. In contrast with the documentary photographers of the 1930’s who were often interested in social change, Winogrand’s statements reflect a much different vision: “I photograph to see what the world looks like photographed.” “There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described.” “A long time ago, I learned to trust my instincts.” “I keep trying to make it uncertain.” “Sometimes I feel like the world is a place I bought a ticket to, it’s a big show for me.” His aim was to record and transform, not persuade or reform.

Winogrand not only challenged the way that a photograph looked, he implemented an innovative way of viewing photographs at a critical time in the transition of and acceptance of photography as a serious art form in America.

While distancing himself from the term “street photographer,” his subjects were almost always found in the streets of New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and numerous other American cities. Winogrand obviously loved the act of seeing and shooting, and if he became obsessed with shooting towards the end of his life, he should be forgiven. He did create a body of photographs that are not only significant, but many are also memorable. With the invention of digital photography, one can only imagine the number of images that may be generated by a future Winogrand.

Darwin Marable, Ph.D. is a photo/art historian, lecturer and critic based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Businesses need both kinds of printers _ inkjet and laser

Byline: Phillip Robinson

Inkjets aren’t perfect. They’ve improved tremendously over the past 15 years, and are now able to print beautiful, photographically realistic color images and sharp, clear black text. Better inks to squirt out in little droplets, smarter built-in software, a wider range of paper for different looks: these have all made inkjet printers eminently practical.

Except for hard-core business.

Oh, you can certainly use an inkjet for those color pie charts and presentations. You can use it to print digital photos of homes or clothes or cars or anything else.

You can even use an inkjet for a one- or two-page resume or business letter. But somehow inkjet prints can’t shake that “I made it on my home computer” look, even if that home computer is in a home office that brings in mucho bucks a year.

The text page printed on an inkjet just looks, well, home-made. And that’s not always what you want in business.

Laser prints are still the standard. Because they melt black toner dust onto the page, the same way a copy machine does, they have a distinctly different look from the ink-squirted page. The type of paper they can use is also different from inkjet’s favorite foundation, which is also part of the appearance difference. Good inkjet prints are on more-expensive, more “I only printed one of these” special papers. Lasers can do their regular work on copy-machine paper, which, by looking less special, is somehow more businesslike, at least for regular business reports, memos and anything else short of a special presentation.

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So I suggest that any business, including one run out of a home office, have both inkjet and laser printers _ the inkjet for color pictures, the laser for multi-page text documents.

That’s not really asking much, at least where cost is concerned. Inkjet printers can be had for as little as $100 to $200. Even the best only cost double that.

A laser printer costs from $200 to $400, or double that for a super-high-speed, super-high-resolution model. So buying both inkjet and laser will only mean a total of $300 to $800 _ or around $1,000 for top performance _ which just a few years ago wouldn’t have bought a single printer of either type.

Of course, you also have to find twice the desk space when there are two printers involved. But you might consider getting a wheeled printer cart that will support them both, with a drawer for paper. Office supply stores have lots of options in printer stands and carts.

The Okipage 6w ( is the tight-budget choice at only $200. This brand is also famous for the painting oil of the best acoustic guitar on the world. Particularly, you’ll get surprisingly good print quality for that price, with good text and reasonable graphics. Plus it’s a very small and quiet printer. There are several pieces of bad news, though, which put the Oki out of contention for anyone with a few more dollars. First, it doesn’t connect by USB port but by parallel port to the computer. Second, it is slow for a laser. Well, it isn’t technically a “laser” printer because it actually uses LED (light-emitting diodes) instead of a laser, but it’s in the same class. From the outside looks and acts just like a laser, except that 4 pages per minute is turtling along, compared to the 6 pages per minute of $300 to $400 printers or the 10ppm to 12ppm of $700 printers.

Speed is rarely all that important, mattering only to people printing huge documents or lots and lots of little ones. If that’s your situation, skip the rest of this story and head right for a potent printer such as the $700 Optra 410 ( ) or the $750 HP2100 ( ), which also comes in a Macintosh version, the 2100M, or even the $1,500 HP LaserJet 4050 for sharing among everyone in your local area network.

Speaking of Macintosh and Windows versions, though, your best choice for an all-around inexpensive laser is the $350 EPL-5700i ( ). It’s so Mac friendly that it even comes with multi-colored paper trays a la the iMac, yet it easily connects to Windows or Mac or even both at the same time, through USB and parallel ports. With 1200dpi resolution, twice that of the Okipage, it offers great graphics prints, and reaches 6 page per minute speed for text prints.

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If you aren’t going to print graphics, you can save a few bucks, and gain some speed, by buying instead the $250 NEC SuperScript 870 ( ). It is faster than the Epson on text but offers only poor 600dpi graphics. Don’t assume you can always print your graphics on that inkjet I’m suggesting you put beside the laser. You may want to combine graphics and text on the same page. But if you’re say a novelist who prints hundreds of pages of pure text, the NEC could be your budget machine. If that’s your case, buy an optional 500-page input paper tray option when you get your laser printer. That’ll let you go away to lunch while the printer munches through a big publishing task.

I wouldn’t opt for the extra memory that some printers use to speed the prints. You’re probably better off just buying a newer, faster printer than adding memory to an existing printer.


(E-mail Phillip Robinson at: prr(AT)


(c) 2000, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS MAY NOT WIN THE WORLD SERIES THIS SEASON, but they’ve already improved their stats in one key area – tickets.

An innovative approach to ticket printing and handling by switching to in-house digital printing has slashed costs and boosted efficiency. Putting bums in seats is the real goal of any professional sports team, but before a ball is thrown on the field, fans have to get their hands on tickets.

Printing more than 50,000 tickets in advance for each of the 81 home games is a logistical nightmare for major league teams. Tickets are preprinted, warehoused and retrieved by hand, and there is always waste.

So, a couple of years ago the Jays went digital, printing tickets on demand. The results have been as spectacular as a Frank Thomas homer, says Jacques Farand, director of IT for Rogers Media Group, which supports the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre.

We’ve realized a saving of about 54%,” said Farand. “At first we did it with black and white printers but we’ve since gone to four full-colour Hewlett-Packard 9500s and we’re looking at upgrading again.”


The Jays buy perforated paper stock on which they print four tickets at a time along with other promotional items such as parking passes, VIP passes or food discount coupons.

Beyond the basics–such as seat number, row, section and gate–we can change the opposing team’s logo for each series, and we can add a corporate sponsor’s logo so if the tickets are giveaways the customers getting the tickets will know where they came from,” he said. “If a customer loses their tickets we can replace them within a couple of hours, whereas before it would take days. Each ticket has a bar code, so we cancel that ticket electronically and issue another with a new bar code.”

That just-in-time inventory approach is one of the key advantages of digital printing. Brochures, catalogues and promotional materials traditionally are printed in bulk to keep costs down, then stored until needed, says Eric Hanson, manager of hard copy technologies at HP’s Palo Alto research labs.


Most of the time some 25% or more is obsolete before it is used,” he says. Press runs are getting shorter, he says, while the market is also demanding shorter turnaround times.

HP’s research suggests digital printing was a $90 billion (U.S.) market in 2005, about half of which was photo, office and home printing. It’s expected to hit $155 billion by 2010 with photo, office and home accounting for $90 billion alone, but with 30% growth in the marketing collateral and industrial category.

By 2010, more than 20% of total sales will be digital-print generated, according to industry projections. That’s why such players as Kodak, Xerox, HP and traditional press makers Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG are investing heavily in it. “Digital printing is really what is driving about two-thirds of Xerox’s revenue across the company,” said Amato De Civita, vice-president for graphic communications at Xerox Canada. The fastest selling products in the division weren’t even on the market three years ago, he says. “That’s how fast it’s moving.”

While the technology is impressive–Xerox’s iGen3 digital press runs at up to 6,000 pages an hour–what’s really happening is that traditional printing businesses have evolved into communication consultants, De Civita said. As such, they are working with clients to use digital printing as a tool to drive sales and escape the trap of commodity pricing. “Personalized marketing produces great results,” he said. “We did some direct mail work for Reader’s Digest, targeting segments with customized printing, and bumped CD music sales up 27%, DVD sales by 111% and books by 45%.”

It’s a trend Frank McPherson saw developing more than a decade ago, and it prompted him to start Custom Data Imaging Corp. in 1999 with his wife, Sylvia. Today his Markham, Ontario, shop employs 23 people and offers clients soup-to-nuts marketing solutions, including one-to-one campaigns that are proving increasingly successful.

One-to-one is the direct mail equivalent of a smart bomb. Generally, direct mail is considered a success if it results in a response rate of 0.6%. A customized, targeted, digitally printed campaign can result in a 13% response, he said. And while digital printing is more expensive than a straight press run, the return on investment has hit as high as 4,000%, McPherson says.


Digital printing is also giving the traditional media sector a boost. While newspapers around the world struggle with declining circulation as readers switch to the Internet, a Richmond, British Columbia, company has found a profitable niche republishing newspaper content.

We decided early on to move the bits, not the wood,” said Richard Miller, vice-president of sales and marketing with NewspaperDirect, which distributes some 500 magazine and newspaper titles, including the Globe and Mail, around the world digitally.

The publications send PDF files to the company via e-mail. Then clients at 1,300 locations around the world use proprietary software that prints them on paper that is then glued together along the left-hand edge to create a “book.”

The result doesn’t have the familiar feel of the Globe, Le Figaro or the Daily Telegraph, but for a travelling businessman in Shanghai or an expat working in Mumbai, it’s a daily fix of news from home.


The remote printing stations act as satellite distributors, soliciting and taking orders for specific titles and then printing, binding and delivering the copies on the same day of publication to hotels, offices, airlines and specialty news agents. Some licensing agreements allow NewspaperDirect to strip out some advertising and insert its own, but most don’t, Miller said.

The products costs up to $8 a copy, underlining the adage that the market will gladly pay for unique and compelling content. For the publishers, the good news is that each remotely printed copy is considered paid for and counts toward the much coveted tally by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the independent organization that reports newspaper circulation figures.

Our customers really want them, too,” Miller said. “They get quite upset if the papers aren’t there on time for whatever reason.”

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