Ostrovsky finds geo-tagged images from a man in a Russian soldier’s uniform who posted pictures in Ukraine and untangles his social media posts, eventually leading him to Ulan Ude in central Russia where he meets the man’s wife and eventually speaks to him on the phone, asking about whether or not he was in Ukraine. Ostrovsky’s journalism in this piece is wonderful. He finds the exact locations of countless photos from the soldier’s social media profiles, both in Ukraine and Russia, and recreates the photos himself. He confronts European observers with some of this evidence and challenges them as to why they won’t definitively say that Russia troops are in Ukraine. Watch until the end when Ostrovsky shows his matching photos to the soldier he tracked down.
If you haven’t been watching Simon Ostrovsky’s Russian Roulette series on the conflict in Crimea and Ukraine, by the way, you’re missing out. It is some of the best television journalism I’ve ever seen, and as of this writing there are 108 videos in the series. The pieces get in deep, have a bit of humor, and really personalize both sides of the conflict. Vice’s HBO news show is good, but Russian Roulette is on another level.
It’s Winningham who introduces Winogrand, saying “Welcome to the Winogrand circus,” and then Winogrand asks for questions from the students. He talks about how he works, his approach to different subjects, and the work of other photographers (Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson–at 21:44: “[East 100th Street] is sickening…morally, it’s sickening, and photographically it’s just a goddamned bore,” and others). It’s a wide-ranging and very informal talk, but offers a fascinating perspective from Winogrand about his own work and others’.
If you don’t have two hours to spare right now, check out the 16-minute highlight reel (which doesn’t have any footage of Winogrand himself) at the National Gallery of Art.
And searching for this video today, I ran across this question and answer session at MIT with Winogrand in 1974. It starts with a short lecture by Tod Papageorge. There’s a transcript in an old post at 2point8 or on Google Docs. Winogrand’s often a bit enigmatic. Asked about whether he still likes some of his older pictures, he responds, “The one’s I’m interested in, I’m interested in. That’s all I can say.” Some of the audience members aren’t too happy with the vague responses and ask him why he’s answering questions the way he does. It’s a fun listen.
Bell¿ngcat is a fascinating operation. The site says it is “by and for citizen investigative journalists.” While I’m normally skeptical of much that falls under the name “citizen journalism,” Bell¿ngcat is something altogether different. Researchers there analyze satellite imagery, social media, photos and video from mainstream media, and other sources, to elicit facts about conflicts that might not otherwise be obvious.
I’m always fascinated by how different people interpret the same photograph, and Bell¿ngcat’s work shows just how far this can be taken. What looks like a simple portrait of a person with a gun might actually be able to tell you who the person is, where they are standing, who provided the weaponry he’s holding, and when the photo was taken. This can be achieved by analyzing architecture, vegetation, markings on weapons, the angle of shadows, and so on. What is apparent in a particular image can then be compared with news reports, publicly available satellite imagery, and other data sources, which can lead to incredibly detailed conclusions.
I first became aware of the site early last year, but since then, they’ve had a very successful kickstarter campaign and tons of fascinating investigations into conflicts around the world.
Bell¿ngcat is not the only group doing this sort of work, by the way. The New York Times reporter CJ Chivers has been doing munitions analysis through photos and video on his tumblr, in his book, The Gun, and of course in his reporting for the Times. There are consultants who trace munitions around the world, as well, often through imagery but sometimes even by traveling to conflicts. N.R. Jenzen-Jones tracks the movement of arms around the world at his website, The Rogue Adventurer. And Conflict Armament Research researches weapons in the field, reporting to the European Union’s iTrace project, which tracks the movement of weapons around the world.
A word of warning: Be very careful looking at this sort of stuff online, and always consider the source. One wrong click and you’re down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole where there’s a political motive behind every photo, all of which are staged. The 2006 Lebanon conflict sticks out in my mind as being particularly bad for this sort of politicized armchair analysis: see this long timecube-y website or look up anything about the GreenHelmetGuy. The links above, on the other hand, are worth considering and offer a great look at how every photograph contains more information than you think it does.
I met Glenn Ruga when I first moved to Boston in 2010. He helmed Boston’s Photographic Resource Center for 4 years, bringing great exhibitions, workshops, and speaker series to the city. He’s also the founder of Social Documentary Network and … Continued
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In conjunction with the re-release of Roger Ballen‘s 2001 book Outland, he’s produced a short film with director Ben Jay Crossman. You can watch it embedded above or at Ballen’s website. As with his previous films (Asylum of the Birds, … Continued
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In November last year, Aperture published a fascinating article about the use of photography by ISIS (aka Islamic State, ISIL, DAESH, Da’Ish. See this wikipedia section for the various names) by Sam Powers. I’ve been meaning to link to it … Continued
Kudos to GuruShots.com for changing their terms and conditions to language that supports the rights of photographers. They’ve eliminated a rights grab and should be commended. I remain wary of the site as a whole, but they are now much … Continued
What is this picture saying? Is it truthful? Does the photographer have a voice and a vision, are they moving photography forward with their image? It’s not enough to simply show up (f8 and be there), point, and shoot. When … Continued
The Museum of the City of New York has unveiled an online collection of ~5000 of Stanley Kubrick’s photos from his time on staff at LOOK magazine between 1945 and 1950. While not quite as easily searchable as Yale’s FSA … Continued