Gear does matter

31 Ottobre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

The first myth of photography is that good cameras take good pictures. The second myth of photography is that gear doesn’t matter.

Experienced photographers often tease amateurs because they would do anything for the latest and possibly most expensive camera, chosen after a careful, methodical comparison of all the technical details. After a recent and widespread brainwashing, most people seem now to agree that pixel count is not so relevant (the fact that 24MP cameras became relatively cheap helped a lot), but only to move the discussion towards similar topics like gaining a stop of speed, 5-axis stabilization, vignetting, fps burst, 4k video. And that subtle purple fringe that appears on the edges while shooting towards the sun – isn’t it outrageous?

Fun fact, experienced photographers often use equipment valued around 10.000 €/£/$ and it’s hard to believe that gear doesn’t matter when you’re told so by some bloke holding a Nikon D5 with a 70-200mm f2.8. Maybe they should just say: “gear doesn’t matter so much“, it would be less disorienting.

(altro…)

Permanently at the crossroads

17 Ottobre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English
Bert Hardy, 1940

Take a look at the above image. What if I ask you: “What is this”?

Not “What’s in this”, but “what is this”. I’m pretty sure the most likely answer – at least the one I would give – is: this is a photograph.

Let’s go through these now:

They all are photographs as well. This doesn’t sound like a very bold statement, nevertheless there’s something intriguing under its surface that becomes clearer when we switch to (mostly) any other form of human creativity.

(altro…)

The thin line between the camera and a mirror

19 Settembre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

It happened again.

I was reading a post from La Noir Image – specifically this one (paywall) about the photography of Marcello Perino – when I saw a brilliant photo that caught my attention. After a few seconds, my finger moved toward the middle of it and tapped on the trackpad without my brain knowing.

A short conversation between my Brain, my Eyes and my Finger took place shortly thereafter.

Brain: “Hey, what are you doing?”
Eyes: “Mate, I’m watching, can you please be quiet?”
Brain: “It was him, I was paying attention. Finger! What the heck?”
Finger (ashamed): “Er… I was clicking… the ‘like’ button…”
Eyes: “There is no like button, you idiot!”
Brain: “There is no like button, you idiot!”
Eyes: “Can we go back to the photos now, please?”
Brain: “Let’s discuss the Quintessence of the World and other Bigger Issues instead”
Eyes: “Oh, get lost…!”

That made me think (as this intriguing dialogue should prove).

(altro…)

Can a monkey take a picture?

12 Settembre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

It definitely can, according to what happened to David Slater. The events are well known and date back to 2011 but for some reason their effects keep following each other.

The facts are pretty straightforward: photographer David Slater’s camera was seized by a cheeky macaque that happened to press the right button at the right time, taking one of the funniest and most expressive selfies a monkey could ever shoot. Not unexpectedly, the photo became viral and everyone was at peace with it until Slater claimed the copyright for that very image.

All of a sudden, the Interwebs went bananas (no pun intended).

A number of issues was raised and still remains unsolved:

  • Can Slater claim the ownership of a photo for the sole reason that it was taken with his equipment?
  • Can a monkey be the rightful owner of a product of creativity – or of any object at all?
  • Is the owner of a picture the one who presses the button of the camera?

Let me disclose my opinion on the matter straightaway: David Slater has the full ownership of his picture and his claims are absolutely legitimate1. Unfortunately, most arguments used in favour or against this statement are pointless and at times even ridiculous:

  • Can monkeys have a lawyer?
  • If we agree the monkey owns the picture, how do we assess its licensing preferences?
  • Are we giving a monkey rights, only to exploit them by putting the picture into the public domain realm?

The fact is, this is not a matter of copyright at all.

(altro…)

Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!

5 Settembre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

This was my (slightly re-edited) first post from my previous blog on https://cgaston.photo/. I have since then merged that blog (which has taken down from the original website) with this one.

During a dreamy vision, Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club discovers that his “power animal” is a penguin. One would rather like to have a wolf, a lion, a bear as a power animal; or probably a wise owl, a graceful gazelle, a mysterious cat. He seems puzzled at first – and a bit disappointed.

“Slide”

As far as I know I don’t have a power animal, but if I had one it would indeed be a rabbit. A very specific rabbit, to be precise: the White Rabbit from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This sounds even more disappointing than a penguin, by the way, but there’s nothing I can do about it: I have a serious problem with time. Even if I’d love to see myself as a fierce wolf, the mirror shows me back a panting, funny, goofy, awkwardly dressy and weirdly surreal small furry animal.

In my defence, time is a tricky matter.

(altro…)

A farewell to the Sandvox community

29 Maggio 2016🇬🇧 English

Between 2009 and 2016 I developed themes for Sandvox, a web authoring app from Karelia Software. This was my last post from the original BehindTheRabbit website.

Dear BtR customer,
Dear Sandvox user,
Dear surfer of the Interwebs,

BehindTheRabbit will be closing soon. It took some time to take this decision and to plan a way to leave the business which is fair to all my current customers and to the Sandvox community.

Seven years ago I started this adventure more as an hobby than as a job. As soon as I started selling designs though, I tried to keep a professional approach even if my “real”, full-time job was completely different. According to the amazingly kind feedback I received in all these years, I think I succeded. (altro…)

Measles, the Internet, and the process of believing

15 Marzo 2014🇬🇧 English

An increase in measles cases in western countries is not recent news: a localized spread of measles has been already reported in the USA and in the UK in the last year. Yesterday though, a similar event received an unprecedent coverage by different kind of sources and, among them, also tech-related websites (Daring Fireball, Gizmodo…); I was surprised to see that these websites thought this was relevant news even if it isn’t strictly their main topic.

The fact is that, this time, the location is NYC. As long as things like this happen among rural and isolated communities or distant countries we are allowed to think that it’s kind of a “local” issue. NYC is instead a high density population area, a crossroad to loads of visitors, tourists, travellers, a city so important both in reality and in our imaginarium that what happens there hits us as it was a global problem. Well, as a matter of fact it is.

The first reaction of online press was to raise a warning about the dangers of measles, the consequences of lack of vaccination both on single people and communities, the lack of evidence in the now common belief that vaccines are dangerous. It’s kind of an “anti-anti-vaccine” campaign and I expect shortly a response in communities supporting the opposite faction to strongly reassess their point. Unfortunately, we will be less aware of this reaction, as many of us are still unaware of the influence these communities have had in the recent years, leading in the end to what we see now.

John Gruber asks:

“Is this anti-vaccination movement just a U.S. thing, or is it spreading in other countries too?”

I can speak for Italy and UK: yes, it’s spreading to other countries too. Specifically about Italy, what really worries me is that the average age of people strongly convinced that vaccines are harmful is relatively low: it’s people having their first child right now or that are going to have one in the next ten years. So, the basis for a measles comeback is already set and strong, but effects will be visible at a later date.

(altro…)

Vivere poeticamente, vivere realmente

1 Ottobre 2008Pubblicazioni, 🇮🇹 Italiano

La poesia può essere facilmente e banalmente identificata con una mera espressione degli stati d’animo del poeta, quasi che si tratti di un lavoro di introspezione cui segue la ricerca di una forma sufficientemente suggestiva da trasmettere questi contenuti introspettivi in modo efficace.

Molti poeti in erba affrontano la pagina innanzitutto a scopo “liberatorio”, per appagare un bisogno di trasmettere e condividere ciò che altrimenti rimarrebbe confinato all’interno della propria dimensione interna; è facile però che questo si riduca ad uno sbrodolamento autoreferenziale che si esaurisce nel momento stesso in cui si compie. L’esperienza della mailing list di BombaCarta, in cui ciclicamente si propongono dinamiche del genere, insegna che questo è un atteggiamento frequente, a volte quasi estremo, monologante. Più è radicale, più è difficile per l’autore sopportare la frustrazione di non essere capito o accolto. Criticare l’opera equivale in quel caso a criticare la persona stessa dell’autore, dal momento che questi la porta come rappresentazione piena e spontanea di sé. La frustrazione maggiore sembra legata allo stupore nel vedere che pochi versi che appaiono a chi li abbia scritti così pieni di emozione, senso, valore, risultino al lettore invece privi di interesse o di significato, se non addirittura fastidiosi. Tutto ciò non è un fatto negativo (anzi! direi che è un passaggio quasi inevitabile), purché apra un nuovo orizzonte in cui la parola poetica non debba semplicemente “espellere” un contenuto emotivo, ma lo debba anche realmente condividere e trasmettere (e ciò presuppone la relazione con un ascoltatore). In questo senso, una mailing list come quella di BombaCarta diventa uno strumento di crescita personale, ben oltre il valore “tecnico” dei suggerimenti che possano esprimersi nelle varie discussioni. (altro…)

La funzione psichiatrica del Cammino

1 Dicembre 2007Pubblicazioni, 🇮🇹 Italiano

Le pratiche riabilitative maggiormente utilizzate al giorno d’oggi hanno le forme e le applicazioni più varie, ma condividono quasi sempre una definizione piuttosto accurata di alcune variabili fondamentali: il setting (in particolar modo i tempi ed i luoghi del lavoro); i ruoli dei terapeuti e dei riabilitatori, chiaramente distinti dagli utenti; i processi operativi, spesso predeterminati e standardizzati; la realizzazione di un prodotto che, se previsto, rappresenti efficacemente il lavoro svolto sia sul piano del risultato concreto che su un piano simbolico. La corretta definizione di queste variabili rende il lavoro con il gruppo dei pazienti più agevole e aiuta a quantificare i progressi e ad interpretare correttamente le difficoltà che possono insorgere di volta in volta. L’utilizzo del Cammino come esperienza riabilitativa pone una serie di questioni proprio per la apparente indeterminatezza di questi aspetti e merita dunque alcune considerazioni specifiche.

Per sua stessa definizione, il Cammino scompagina l’ordine naturale di setting, ruoli, processi e prodotti come siamo abituati ad immaginarli, potendo dare l’erronea impressione che non esistano oppure che siano fuori controllo. Essi invece esistono e incidono in modo determinante: solo comprendendone la peculiare espressione è possibile utilizzarli al pieno delle loro possibilità le quali, in questo modo, possono risultare addirittura amplificate rispetto alle pratiche più tradizionali.

Farò riferimento in questa sede al lavoro con un gruppo di utenti generici: in primo luogo, il discorso si può applicare indifferentemente a pazienti psichiatrici cronici, a persone con disabilità fisica, a tossicodipendenti, a minori, così come a qualunque altra forma del disagio, giacché esso è sostanzialmente indipendente dalla natura specifica del sintomo; in secondo luogo, verrà considerato il gruppo e la complessità di cui è naturalmente latore come parte integrante (e portante) del lavoro stesso.

(altro…)