News: Robert Capa’s Lost Negatives Have Been Found

Robert CapaĆ¢??s Lost Negatives

In 1954, Robert Capa died still believing that the negatives he left behind in his Paris studio when he fled the Nazi invasion had been lost forever.

The New York Times has published the story of how Capa’s negatives resurfaced and the implications of the discovery. One of the most intriguing elements of the story is the question of whether Capa’s arguably most famous photograph (Death of a Loyalist Soldier) was actually “faked” and the hope that these negatives may answer this once and for all.

It is a fascinating story.

Review: Spudz Lens Cleaning Cloths

Spudz Lens Cleaning Cloth

Now, I love technology! There’s something magical about the smell of new electronics, possibly because it is a smell that can only be recognized by men (trust me – ask a woman what “new electronics” smells like). Lots of little buttons, LEDs, motors, all that stuff!

So I was a little surprised to find myself getting all excited about Spudz Lens Cloths. But I am. I used to have one of those Pentax cloths which did a brilliant job and when it was grubby you just put it in the wash and it was fixed. Trouble is, I can’t remember where I last had it. And, in spite of visiting every camera shop and optician in my local shopping centre (which is pretty big), I can’t locate one. Obviously I have looked on the trusty Internet which did yield a result, but somehow the online store did not inspire me to purchase.

Anyway, I was flicking through the pages at the back of Digital Camera Magazine and I spotted this little advert for “Spudz” cloths. I trundled off to the Alpine Innovations website and did a little research and next thing I know I’m holding three variants of the product and rushing around the house collecting optical glass in need of a polish.

The Basics

The concept is wonderfully simple; find yourself a perfect material for safely and effectively cleaning optical glass, sow it into a pouch to keep it in good condition and attach a clip for you to fix it to something so you can always find it when you need it. How brilliant is that?

First Impressions and Observations

Okay, I’m going to be honest and say that my very first thoughts when I received the Spudz were a bit negative. The Mini version is tiny. Teeny-tiny, in fact – 2″ x 6″ (about 50 x 150mm). What possible use could that be, I wondered. However, I attached it to my mobile phone (as recommended by Alpine Innovations) and now I have possibly the cleanest mobile phone camera lens in the southern hemisphere. It doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t get lost and it has exactly the right amount of cloth to do the job. Genius!

My other negative doubt was a little more serious and was about durability. The old Pentax cloths were stitched around the edges to prevent them from fraying, but the Spudz cloth has been cut and left. I couldn’t see it lasting very long. However, anyone who ever used the Pentax cloth will probably tell you that the edge seam could be a pain in the proverbial, getting in the way during a delicate cleaning operation. That does not happen with the Spudz. I am very happy to report that after several months of virtually obsessive (and possibly excessive) cleaning, there is no sign whatsoever of the cloth fraying at the edges. Spudz are not stitched around the edge because they don’t need to be.

Now here is the bit that gets me all giggly. I have the XL Spudz, which is the largest of the trio at 10″ x 10″ (that’s about 250mm square) and I would say is the perfect size for a photographer’s needs. The XL is available in 18% grey so it can be used for taking accurate reflection meter readings and for setting white balance on digital SLRs. That is so smart. A grey card you can actually keep with you!

When your Spudz becomes dirty you can give it a wash and it’s sorted.

I feel I have written far too much here. Spudz are so simple in concept that one paragraph should cover it. I love the simplicity but most of all I like the feeling that someone has actually thought about what I really need and given me exactly that.

Finally (and this is a very personal thing), no matter how good or desirable a product is, there is always the possibility that you will have to make contact with the supplier/manufacturer and I put a lot of store in the quality of the personnel I have to talk to. In this case, I am pleased to report that my email “chats” with Alpine Innovations have shown them to be helpful and interested in the people who buy their products.

In Conclusion

I really don’t understand why they seem to be a big secret – they should be on the counter of every single photographic shop you walk into. Take a look at the Alpine Innovations website.

The quality is excellent, the price is fair, it does what it is supposed to do and I am never going to be without one.

Book Review: Portrait in Light and Shadow; The Life of Yousuf Karsh by Maria Tippett

Portrait in Light and Shadow; The Life of Yousuf Karsh by Maria Tippett

Okay, so this is not actually a book review, on account of the book not yet being published. But I’m really excited with the anticipation of getting my hands on a copy the second it is available. I’m hoping I can pass the excitement on to a few more people.

Karsh was (in my humble opinion) a true master of the art of portrait photography. His images of such icons as Churchill (Karsh took away his cigar!) and Einstein (in a sweater!) are sublime. I choose these two examples because the photographs are icons in their own right, making them almost icon squared, if you see what I mean.

I’m always a little envious of those who have the opportunity to photograph such universally recognizable people, but I don’t believe that makes it any easier to take a brilliant portrait. If anything, it probably makes it even harder, with expectations being that much higher.

Anyway, Karsh – right at the top of the heap (with a few other heroes), so do yourself a favour and get hold of this book as soon as you can. And someone, somewhere, put on an exhibition of his work and let me know about it.