Articles written by Mike Smith
Well it had to come… the final installment of the A to Z of Photography appeared last week and with that a huge void in my life! With every end there is a new beginning, but before we reach that, where did the A to Z start, what topics did it traverse in its winding journey, and what were some of the highlights?
And so with some sadness, tinged with a sense of relief, we reach the final letter of the alphabet. And what better way to finish than with a vastly successful company that has virtually spanned the lifetime of photography, along with some photographic input from yet another novelist.
The cult of celebrity is alive and kicking, now seemingly the domain of the "influencer". However history is littered with photographers who attained celebrity status — step back 80 years and Weegee made the unusual step from press photographer to, well, influencer! This was long after the second of our two articles, which looks at the wet collodion plate process.
This week we continue the A to Z of Photography with an interview with contemporary photographer Benjamin von Wong, renowned for his attention grabbing, fantastical images. We follow this with a history of Vivitar, a camera and lens manufacturer that didn't make cameras or lenses!
We now arrive at the second of the three tricky letters of the alphabet. Unfortunately, U is uselessly underwhelming but ultimately and uniquely utilitarian! The first an iconic photo of political protest and confrontation, a theme that continues to this day in newsrooms across the world. Then discover Umbo.
This week we turn to a train wreck of an image — yes the iconic photo "Train Wreck at Montparnasse Station"! But before we get to that, step back to the dawn of photography and understand the principles behind tilting and shifting the lens relative to the sensor. Some of the highest profile photographers use tilt-shift lenses in their day-to-day work, so find out why that is.
At pretty much three-quarters of the way through the alphabet we stop at R, an eminently popular letter, to look at the foundation of pretty much all contemporary cameras — the Reflex. This is followed by the inspiringly funny work of Tony Ray-Jones whose career was cruelly cut short.
In this issue of the A to Z of Photography we turn to possibly the thorniest letter of the alphabet: Q. Fear not as we take you on a journey from an interview with the antipodean photographer Wayne Quilliam, through Elvis, Brahmanandam Kanneganti, Kim Kardashian, Princess Diana, and Donald Trump before finally arriving at the Queen.
With this installment we revisit the whole sub-genre of panoramic photography. Literally(!) a wide subject, discover the history behind it, the software to create it, and the competitions to enter. Once you've scrambled your way through the panoramas, discover one of the most beautiful photos in the universe. Read on.
Moving on to N, we enter the second half of the alphabet and with that a headlong rush to Z. It's been a blast getting to this point, but now we start the countdown. In this issue the A to Z of Photography we visit that most unwanted of digital acquaintances, noise, before taking a peek at the cover work (and Polaroids) of Helmut Newton.
With M we reach a significant milestone in the A to Z of Photography as this is the halfway mark. So far "Bronica and Burtynsky" and "Fujifilm" have been the most read with the "Family of Man" and "Image Stabilization and Into the Jaws of Death" languishing at the bottom of the popularity charts! Onwards then to Inge Morath and Minolta.
This week we move on to L in the A to Z of Photography and an image of Lenna that has impacted every photographer, along with the little red dot… yes, this article gives a brief overview of the history of Leica, a brand that has influenced everyone directly or indirectly through either their design or the photos shot with them.
How could we pass K without perhaps the last word going to the most iconic of iconic brands? Yes, this installment of the A to Z of Photography outlines the rise and fall of Kodak. Can the phoenix arise from the ashes of it's photographic self-immolation? Yevgeny Khaldei accompanies Kodak and, whilst not a household name, his signature image is one of the the most recognizable. Read on.
J takes us back to the very foundations of digital photography with none other than the, love-it or loathe-it, JPEG file format. If that seems like old hat, then step back another century to the iconic work of William Henry Jackson who produced some of the first photos of Yellowstone National Park.
This installment of the A to Z of photography begins with perhaps the most exciting photographic technology of the 21st century — image stabilization. This is followed by one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century — Into the Jaws of Death — which marks a tipping point in history. The I's have it!