CNN Uses Microsoft PhotoSynth Technology to Showcase Obama Inauguration

Microsoft PhotoSynth of Today's Inaguration on CNN

I’ve blogged a few times in the past about Microsoft’s interesting new PhotoSynth technology that allows the ability to stitch your photos together to create a multi layered almost 3D sort of view using multiple photographs.

In perhaps the most historically significant use of the technology yet, CNN today asked viewers to email in their photographs taken of Barack Obama being sworn in today as President. CNN then used the technology to create a mass collaborative composite PhotoSynth presentation of today’s event and the results are stunning.

If you want to check it out you can check it out here. The PhotoSynth by CNN works on both PCs and Macs. Once you land on the page, move your mouse around and click a bit to get the hang of it. You can zoom in and out of the PhotoSynth and look through the crowd for familiar faces. Using this technology you can see several famous celebrities in the crowd up close and personal. Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Cusak and several other celebrities can be seen in the PhotoSynth.

My 20,000th Photo Uploaded to Flickr

My 20,000th Upload to Flickr

The photo above marks my 20,000th upload to Flickr. My first photo uploaded to Flickr was uploaded on January 2, 2005, four years ago. Over the past four years, sharing photos online has redefined how I view my own work. I have found inspiration from other photographers daily and I’ve met some truly, truly amazing artists, photographers and people participating in this new world of social photography along the way.

Thanks to everyone who over the last four years has stopped by my photos and left a note, a comment, a fave — touch from one human being to another. Your testimonials, your emails, your blog comments, spending a few hours walking around San Francisco or Oakland or Berkeley or Hollywood or Sacramento or Las Vegas or Portland or Seattle or New York or New Orleans or anyplace else our paths have crossed, in real life or online have held great meaning for me. I’ve appreciated the feedback, I’ve appreciated the friendship, I’ve appreciated the support. It’s made me a better photographer. It’s made me a better person.

20,000 uploads to Flickr represents 2% of a goal that I’ve come to define as part of this process of learning about myself and my photography.

I’d like to publish one million photographs online before I die.

This means that I’m planning on shooting, processing, and publishing photographs every single day for the rest of my life. It means that I have to live a long time and be careful to maintain a pace that makes this likely based on human life expectancy. It means living my life with a camera constantly by my side. Permanently attached to my being. Framing my world hour by hour as I move about this planet. Every day a new opportunity to find and present new beauty to the entire connected world.

I’m optimistic about what the future holds. A phrase I’ve repeated often is that the best photographs in the world have yet to be taken. This phrase isn’t meant to discount the amazing work of so many great photographers of yesteryear that have paved the way for the world of photography today. Rather, it’s meant in a spirit of hope. Hope that tomorrow will bring still more opportunities to capture the human condition and the beauty around us. Hope in an evolutionary creative vision that lives in all of us and that is constantly finding new ways to express things artistically. Hope and a belief that in technological advances are born even greater ways to help us achieve our artistic passions.

And on the continuing ride that the next 40 years or so may have in store for me, I’m excited about how much of my life will overlap with the people that I continue to have the good fortune to run across in this world. As much as my photography allows me to constantly interact with people in the offline world, friends and strangers alike, as big a part of that overlap, at least for me, comes from this great big world of online photo sharing that we all share with such generosity.

Marc Silber Interviews Pro Photographer Chase Jarvis for New Photography Video Series Photo Show

Photographer Marc Silber has a new photography related video series out called Photo Show. The show’s tagline is: “Interviews, Tips and Insight from the World’s Best Photographers,” and he’s got an interview up today with Seattle based pro photographer Chase Jarvis that is well worth watching. You might remember Chase from the promo video that Nikon did with him last Fall showcasing their D90 camera, one of the first digital SLRs to shoot video.

I’m really excited to see Marc out there doing a photography video show because I don’t think that there are enough photography related video shows on the web. The quality of his show is very professional and he’s getting some great guests.

Marc and his crew recently filmed an interview with me on San Francisco’s Baker Beach shooting the Golden Gate Bridge that should be up at some point in the future as well. Marc, Robert Scoble, and I also went up to Yosemite last year and got to spend some time with Ansel Adams’ son Michael. Marc also has a video of his interview with Michael Adams about his dad’s photography here.

Congrats on the great interview Marc and looking forward to many great episodes of Photo Show in the month ahead.

If you want to subscribe to Marc’s new video show and blog on photography via RSS you can do that here.

What Are Your Photography Goals for 2009?

Photo Gallery – Marc Silber

I thinks setting goals with regards to your photography and then breaking those goals down into more manageable sub goals makes a tremendous amount of success.

My own long-term goal is to publish at least 1,000,000 photographs before I die.

Photographer Marc Silber has a post out where he asks people what their goals are for 2009. I elaborated on my more specific photographic goals for 2009 in the comments section of Marc’s post.

From Marc:

“Let me ask you, when was the last time you thought about your goals as a photographer? Lots of us keep going out and shooting the same pictures over and over—you know the ones I’m talking about. Nice shot the first few times you got it, but after a few hundred, even you’re tired of seeing it! How does that happen? You get good at a certain type of photography and keep on going out and finding that shot again.”

Update: Marc has a 2nd part update to his post on photography goals here.

New Artist of the Week Series #5, Ron Diorio

I’m pleased to present this week my 5th artist in a series of artists that I’ve been profiling at

Ron Diorio, or av_producer on Flickr, is a photographic and video artist living and working in New York. This selection of images is from “Coming around again” a trilogy (Anytown, Around here and Home town) examining the ambiguity of place in the early 21st century. Ron is represented by Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art.

I’ve watched Ron’s work progress over the years and his style is an interesting and unique one. Anonymous characters come and go throughout images in soft tones around the edges of city living. Dreamy portraits, scenes and characters are presented — letting your imagination take hold as you think about the scenes behind them.

More recently Ron has been publishing short form videos on Flickr combining poetry overlayed on top of video footage and his imagery. These are very interesting and thought provoking as well. Dark tales in some cases feeling like some sort of Joe Frank like radio noir. Here’s a direct link to Ron’s video set on Flickr.

An interesting artist working with urban America, I’d highly recommend Ron’s work. You can also find more of Ron’s work on his photography blog here.

Ten images follow below:

Lament on the death of a Blackberry
Lament on the death of a Blackberry / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

A back door man
Back door man / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Home town
Home town / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Puddle jump
Puddle jump / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Loose change
Loose change / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

A secret garden
Secret Garden / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Day off
Day off / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Independence day
Independence day / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Cruising / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Lobby at night
Lobby at night / Courtesy of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art

Previous artists showcased in my New Artist of the Week Series:

New Artist of the Week #1: Carlotta Fancypants
New Artist of the Week #2: Troy Paiva
New Artist of the Week #3: rouge rouge
New Artist of the Week #4: Jonathan Haeber

New Artist of the Week Series #4, Jonathan Haeber

I’m pleased to present this week my 4th artist in a series of artists that I’ve been profiling at

Jonathan Haeber, or TunnelBug as he is known on Flickr, is doing a remarkable job of documenting the abandoned and lost places of America. From Michael Jackson’s now largely abandoned Neverland Ranch, to resorts in the Catskills, to closed and abandoned factories and manufacturing plants of the San Francisco Bay Area, Haeber is documenting these sites and locations perhaps better than any other artist in the world today. To see a set that showcases 54 different abandoned sites as of this writing also check out Haeber’s “Abandoned” collection on Flickr.

Part of Haeber’s drive to document these places comes from a long and deep love of history. He also studied English and Geography at UC Berkeley and cites his background in Geography as being helpful in what he shoots.

More than just the photographs that Jonathan shares with the world, he also provides extensive write ups and research done over at his website Bearings. I’d encourage you to take a read on some of his work there to better understand who and why he is documenting the sites that he is.

There is also a YouTube video out with Haeber sharing briefly some of what he is about and what he is doing with his art and his approach to photography.

Haeber’s work is impressive, the actual imagery, the documentation he does behind the imagery, and most of all to me, the endurance and passion that he shows with his growing library of imagery from the lost and abandoned places across the world. Below are 10 images that represent some of Haeber’s work.

Front Gate of Neverland Ranch

Grossinger’s Resort Indoor Pool – Catskills Mountains, New York

United Technologies Corp. Rocket Testing Facility

Treasure Island Naval Base Bowling

Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital – Long Island, NY

Ukiah Masonite Mill (now demolished)

S.S. Independence Cruise Ship Dining Lounge (presumably being scrapped in Alang)

Oakland Tribune Building from the Key System Building

Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, where L. Ron Hubbard conceived of Scientology

Charles Main Grave Site – San Francisco Merchant during the Gold Rush

Previous artists showcased in my New Artist of the Week Series:

New Artist of the Week #1: Carlotta Fancypants
New Artist of the Week #2: Troy Paiva
New Artist of the Week #3: rouge rouge

NYC Street Photographer Bruce Gilden

“All these people that I photograph, they are like my friends. I have no ethics. Anyone who gives you this ethics, I mean, c’mon, give me a break.”
— Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden is an in your face sort of street photographer who specializes in street portraits. Watch him work in the video above.

Thanks, cmiper!

Top 10 Places for Photography in San Francisco

Photowalking 7Golden Gate Bridge at Dusk, Dedicated to My Good Friend Robert ScobleSkinSelf Portrait, August 24, 2005

One of the most common emails I get from readers is an email letting me know that they are coming to visit San Francisco and asking what I’d recommend that a visitor shoot while here on their trip.

With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a post today of what I feel are the top 10 not to be missed photographic sites to shoot while you visit.

To dig deeper into some of the things to shoot in the San Francisco Bay Area I’ve set up two collections on Flickr.

The first collection is called Bay Area Photographic Destinations and includes 74 different shooting sites that you might want to consider on your visit.

The second collection is called The Micro Neighborhoods of the San Francisco Bay Area and covers 40 neighborhoods in the Bay Area that you might want to explore further.

I’ve highlighted different views of the points of interest with links so that you can get a better idea what I’m talking about. Most images are geotagged so you should be able to find them pretty easily. If you can’t find a site for whatever reason, shoot me an email or comment and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

So on with the list.

#1 The Golden Gate Bridge. This probably goes without saying, but the Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most photographed tourist spot in San Francico. That said, even as a local, I am constantly amazed at the shots I am able to get of the Bridge with each subsequent visit. There are four primary places that you should consider shooting the bridge from. The first one is simply to shoot on the bridge itself. I’d recommend both walking and having someone else drive while you shoot across the bridge. The three other spots I’d recommend shooting the bridge from are Fort Point (just under the bridge to the East), Baker Beach (a great beach West of the Bridge), and the Marin Headlines (many vista points just northwest of the bridge). There is also a spot just south of the bridge where you can get out of your car and shoot straight on at the bridge.

#2 Alcatraz. Not many things are more fun to shoot than abandoned old prisons. The best tip here is to reserve your ferry trip out to Alcatraz *early*. You will not be able to reserve a ride if you try and make your reservation when you are already here for your visit. Also I’d recommend making a reservation for a mid to late afternoon visit. This will give you an opportunity to shoot the prison during the day and after dark. The prison feels even spookier after dark and you can also get some great vista shots of San Francisco from the island (bring a tripod).

#3 Twin Peaks. At the top of Twin Peaks in San Francisco is one of the greatest vistas to shoot in the world. You can see the entire city of San Francisco as well as the Bay Bridge and Oakland. I find that this view is best shot at night. In addition to views of the City, City Hall, the Transamerica Building, downtown etc., there is an excellent far away view of the Golden Gate Bridge from this point as well as a great opportunity to shoot Sutro Tower.

#4 The Museums. The SF MOMA doesn’t allow photography in their galleries (shame on them) but you can still sneak photos here and there. The crown jewel for photographers in San Francisco though is the de Young. Although the de Young doesn’t allow tripods or backpacks (wear a photo vest), they do have an open policy towards photography. The other museum that you may want to visit is the Oakland Museum of California (currently under renovation so not 100% what it should be at present). You can take the BART over to the 12th Street BART station in Oakland and walk over to shoot the Oakland Museum of California. The Asian Art Museum allows photography as well and is a great shoot. There is also a great vintage arcade game musuem called Musee Mecanique in Fisherman’s Wharf.

#5 The Hotels. There are a number of hotels where you can get *great* overhead shots of San Francisco. Because hotels are fairly unrestrictive about who goes in and out, even if you are not a guest at a given hotel you can still gain access pretty easily to shoot.

The first hotel shot I recommend is from the catwalk atop the Mandarin Hotel. The Mandarin Hotel is the tallest hotel in San Francisco and there is the most amazing catwalk connecting it’s two towers on the top floor. You will catch a fantastic view of North Beach and the Transamerica Building from up there, especially at dusk.

The second hotel I’d recommend shooting from is the Financial District Hilton on Kearny. You’ll need to slip into the elevator with someone with a elevator key, but the views from the stairwell on the north side of the hotel are the best views of Coit Tower in the city.

The third hotel I’d recommend shooting from is the Fairmont Hotel which sits atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill. Take the elevator on the north west side of the hotel to the second floor from the top (the elevator won’t let you up to the Penthouse which is the Crown Room). Get off at the second from the top floor and make your way into the stairwell and use the employee service elevator to get to the top of the Crown Room (ignore the no trespassing signs). Usually it’s empty and you’ll have an amazing view atop the world all to yourself. I recommend shooting this pre and post sunrise.

The last hotel I’d recommend visiting is the Hyatt Grand Regency. Not only does this hotel have one of the most amazing modern interiors in the world of architecture, if you take the modernistic elevators up to as high a floor as you can you can sneak out the fire staircase on the east side of the hotel to get a spectacular view of the Bay and the Ferry Building. Make sure you prop this door open behind you as it locks and you’ll be stuck climbing down all the stairs if you don’t.

#5 Chinatown / North Beach. Chinatown and North Beach are comfortably close to each other by way of walking distances. Try walking up and down a few of the North to South streets in Chinatown (Grant, Stockton, Powell) to get some of the great neighborhood culture. After shooting Chinatown, make your way North to North Beach. There are some great night shots of the neon of the strip clubs on Broadway as well as great views in Washington Square Park of St. Peter and Paul church as well as beautiful views up at the top of Coit Tower.

#6 Haight Ashbury / Mission District. Not necessarily within walking distance, Haight Ashbury and The Mission are two of the best neighborhoods to shoot to see some of the best cultural sites in San Francisco. Both neighborhoods are rich with street art, graffiti and street murals and have lots of funky stores and art galleries where you can shoot the windows from the street. You’ll do best in the Haight sticking close to upper Haight Street itself. With regards to the Mission District I’d recommend shooting around Mission and 24th Streets. Especially pay attention to all of the little alleys shooting off of 24th Street and Mission itself. This is where you will find some of the best street art in San Francisco.

#7 City Hall. City Hall is one of the architectural high points of San Francisco. With unrestricted access to most of the floors of the building you can get several great vantage points to shoot the interior of the building. Bring a wide angle lens with you if you can. These shots work especially well there.

#8 The Ferry Building. Once a decrepited old rats maze of endless coridors of offices (if only I’d had more foresight back then to shoot them!), the San Francisco Ferry Building has transformed itself into a mecca for foodies. In it’s restoration it was also rebuilt to showcase the architectural beauty that it really is. Be sure and try to make your way up to the second floor and take the stairs just to the left of the grand staircase as you go up them. If you can act naturally enough like you work in the building you can squeak past the security guard and make your way up to a stunning interior walking bridge where you will get the best wide angled shots of the building of all. Try to visit the Ferry Building on one of the days (Tuesday and Saturday) where the farmer’s market is going on to get even more great shots.

#9 The Palace of Fine Arts / Exploratorium. The Palace of Fine Arts is a building in San Francisco originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. It’s especially stunning at night. Be sure to try to shoot a bit under the dome of the building to get a shot that looks like this.

The Exploratorium is a science museum inside the Palace of Fine Arts building. Although especially great for kids, the museum also has lots of fun things for adults to shoot as well.

#10 The cemeteries. There are two cemeteries that I’d especially recommend shooting in San Francisco. Neither are particularly easy to get to, but if you like shooting dramatic cemeteries both are worth a visit.

The first is the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. This is a large military cemetery with rows and rows and rows of identical grave markers. In addition to the stones themselves, there are dramatic views of the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Presidio from the top of this cemetery.

The second cemetery I’d recommend visiting is Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. You’ll probably want to rent a car to get to this location as it’s not so convenient, but this cemetery has the most spectacular cemetery sculpture in the entire Bay Area. This cemetery is where the wealthiest in San Francisco’s days gone by were buried and has dramatic sculptures of angels especially. Don’t miss Crocker’s angel.

There are lots of other great places to shoot in and around San Francisco. Browse some of my collections for some other great spots and feel free to comment if you have questions on other spots to shoot.

Bonus links:

Best Chinese Food in San Francisco: Henry’s Hunan (Downtown/Chinatown)

Best Mexican Food in San Francisco: La Taqueria (Mission District)

Best Reasonably Priced Sushi: Godzilla Sushi (Pacific Heights)

Best Expensive Sushi: Sushi Ran (Sausalito)

Best Breakfast Spot in San Francisco: Sears Fine Food (Union Square)

Best Used CD Store in San Francisco: Amoeba (Haight)

Best Wine Store: K&L; Wines (South of Market)

Best Wine Bar: Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant (Ferry Building)

Best Camera/Photo Store: None. They all are pretty much overpriced. Save yourself some money and make sure to buy from B&H; ahead of your trip.

Anyone Up for a DSLR Summit in San Francisco?

My friend Bill (DCVoyager on Flickr) sent me an email with an interesting idea today. Bill suggested that maybe we put together a meet up in San Francisco based on digital photography. He thought that if it was organized people outside of San Francisco might be willing to fly in to attend.

But I started thinking about that and what about taking it even further than this? What about organizing an actual DSLR conference in San Francisco? They have Web 2.0 and CES and Gnomedex and SXSW and all these other tech sort of conferences, why not organize one around digital photography? As far as I know there is not a conference based on digital photography that exists today.

Maybe Canon or Nikon or someone would want to sponsor it. We could keep costs as low as possible with a little sponsorship like this. We could invite the various photo sharing sites and people doing interesting things in the digital photography space, some top photographers, etc. and have a fantastic gathering in San Francisco.

We could maybe do some seminars on night photography, street photography, portrait photography or whatever during the day and also build several different organized photo shoots in the San Francisco around the conference. We have lots of locals here who know great places to shoot. Day shoots, night shoots, etc.

San Francisco is such a beautiful city to photograph and this could be a great way for people to come to San Francisco and shoot and experience it first hand.

If the conference was successful enough, maybe we could organize it as an annual event and hold it in a different city each year.

For those of you who read this blog and are not in San Francisco would this be something that you’d be willing to come visit for? Do you think it should be during the week or on a weekend? Who would you like to see as speakers or companies involved with this? My thought would be to open it up as much as possible and invite every company in the digital photography space who wanted to be involved to be involved. This would be more than just another Flickr meetup or geek dinner. The idea would be to organize a full fledged conference about all of the exciting things that we are doing with our DSLRs today.

Would love any feedback on this idea.