The Conversation: Hollywood may be able to afford #MeToo, but it’s a stretch for the Australian arts

“…the larger task remains to engineer a genuine culture shift at the grassroots of the arts; to adequately support artist wellbeing in a competitive and under-funded sector. Real culture change doesn’t come cheap. It takes money, time and resources and on that front, Australia is a long way from Hollywood.

In our competitive and underfunded sector, power relationships are ever present. It is simply too easy for an artist to not be selected for future contracts if they are perceived to have had mental or physical health issues in the past. Young artists have very strong motivation not to disclose such issues and risk succumbing to career-ending illness or injury….”

Screen Producers Australia: Australian Screen Industry Code of Practice – Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying


This has, alas, all come about a bit too late.


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The Atlantic: How the 50-mm Lens Became ‘Normal’, by Allan Daigle

“… One lens in particular—the 50-mm lens—is often seen as the most objective of objectifs, and it is said to be the lens that best approximates human visual perspective. For example, the precision-lens manufacturer Zeiss states that its Planar 50-mm lens is “equal to the human eye.” Many artists have taken up 50-mm lenses to render ordinary, everyday experience….

… But the concept of “normal vision,” let alone the 50-mm lens’s ability to reproduce it, is hardly a given. The idea that a 50-mm best approximates human sight has more to do with the early history of lens production than any essential optical correspondence between the lens and the eye….

… Perhaps the 50-mm communicates an anxiety about whether an individual can understand someone else’s vision. Under the right circumstances, a 50-mm lens does create a perspectival relationship that, more or less, approximates the ways the majority of people see their everyday world. But it’s still relative….”


The legendary Minolta CLE 35mm analog film camera with 40mm f/2.0 perfect normal prime lens, photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.

The relevance of 50mm focal length in 35mm sensor format being “normal” or “standard” has long been in dispute with opponents often pointing out that the mathematical  definition of “perfect normal” in that sensor format makes it closer to 40mm, hence the 40mm “normal” lens supplied with the Leica CL and its successor, the Minolta CLE.

Viewing the world through the narrower 50mm focal length appears to be more a matter of habituation than human biology, as I deduced many times over when teaching art students new to photography.

Human binocular vision is capable of encompassing a view over 180-degrees when staring directly ahead and without moving the eyes, as indicated by the results of my tests with new photographers, and that instantly opened their eyes to seeing the world beyond the single prime object of interest, rapidly progressing into keenly observing the relationships between near and far, left and right, above and below.

Photographed with Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens on Panasonic DMC-GX8 rangefinder-style camera with tilting electronic viewfinder. The 25mm focal length in Micro Four Thirds is equivalent to 35mm in APS-C and 50mm in the 35mm sensor format aka “full format” or “full frame”.

While the 50mm focal length and its equivalents of 25mm in Micro Four Thirds and 35mm in APS-C have their uses, especially in video and portraiture, I recommend considering focal lengths often described as “perfect normal” such as 40mm in 35mm format, 27mm in APS-C and 20mm in Micro Four Thirds, for the way they better embed their prime subject within a field of background relationships with objects, people and places.

I also recommend reading the analog film and digital sensor normal lens tables in Wikipedia at Normal lens for focal lengths derived from actual film and sensor sizes.

Some “Nifty Forty” lenses for 35mm format sensors


Help support ‘Untitled’

Of all the brands of aluminium and brass step-up rings I have tried, those made by Breakthrough Photography have proven to be the best and are unique in their top quality machining and easy-handling traction frame.

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • 40mm prime lensesB&H
  • APS-C Lenses, Focal Length: 35mmB&H – includes Fujifilm and Sony E-Mount
  • Breakthrough Photography UV filters in knurled brass traction framesB&H – I strongly recommend Breakthrough Photography’s knurled brass-framed UV, ND, and CPL filters as well as the company’s excellent brass step-up rings.
  • Chiaro UV filters in knurled brass framesB&H – I also recommend Chiaro’s brass-framed UV filters, especially when the size you need is available in the company’s 99% light transmission brass top and side knurled range for maximum grip and durability.
  • DSLR Lenses, Focal Length: 50mmB&H
  • Heliopan brass step-up ringsB&H – If the step-up ring you need is not available in Breakthrough Photography or Sensei Pro brands, this is my recommended third choice.
  • Micro Four Thirds Lenses, Focal Length: 25mmB&H
  • Mirrorless System Lenses, Focal Length: 50mmB&H
  • Rangefinder Lenses, Focal Length: 50mmB&H
  • Sensei Pro brass step-up ringsB&H – If the step-up ring you need is not available in Breakthrough Photography brand, these are my recommended second choice.

Jenny Smets: Overshadowed or overlooked?

“Although there seems to be more focus on the gender disparity issue lately—some are even cynically saying it’s a fashionable trend to talk about gender and diversity—the fact remains that women are less represented and less awarded in the profession of visual journalism….”


  • Women Photograph – “an initiative that launched in 2017 to elevate the voices of female visual journalists.”

Kickstarter: SOLIDteknics nöni seamless stainless saucepan + skillet-lid♥ – brilliant Australian design and manufacturing

“Yes, nöni™ is a genuine world-first in cookware: seamless one-piece production wrought stainless steel saucepans.

It has never been done before because it is almost impossible, and not possible with traditional pressing methods. After thousands of years of metal cookware (and a century of disposable cookware), this innovative little Australian engineering co. found a way. The patents* are pending, tooling made, prototypes loved by chefs, and production is ready to go!…” Screen Australia’s withdrawal of support for entry-level filmmakers causes dismay

“… “We have had to get out of the entry-level film market as a result of funding cuts,” chief operating officer Fiona Cameron told a parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the film and TV industry last week. “The state governments typically work in that area and we work in the area over and above that.”…

… Writer-director Heath Davis, whose first film was Broke, said he views Screen Australia’s decision as “more evidence that filmmakers have got to start looking externally, not internally, and truly embrace collaboration. That means everyone helping one another get their projects happening. There’s too much of an every person in it for themselves philosophy here and that needs to change. I love film and am worried about where it’s heading.””

Please Support Brian Griffin’s Kickstarter Campaign to Publish ‘POP’, the Chronicle of His Achievements in Music Photography

Brian Griffin, one of the most creative, innovative and successful photographers and moviemakers I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of publishing his latest book, POP, a chronicle and collection of his remarkable achievements in album cover photography.

Brian Griffin created the cover photographs of many of the most significant albums of the Punk, Post-Punk and New Romantic movements of the 1970s and 1980s. He photographed this masterpiece for the cover of Depeche Mode's second album, 'A Broken Frame'.
Brian Griffin created the cover photographs of many of the most significant albums of the Punk, Post-Punk and New Romantic movements of the 1970s and 1980s. He photographed this masterpiece for the cover of Depeche Mode’s second album, ‘A Broken Frame’.

POP will be a must-have amongst photography books, revealing the scope of the work and vision of this Black Country outsider who made off to the London Dockland’s area of Rotherhithe to set up studio and revolutionize corporate photography, popular music photography, advertising photography and the art of photographic portraiture.

Brian Griffin’s visionary, minimalist, dense-with-meaning photography appeared as a shining light in the gloom of the corporate world of 1970s Britain. One of the greatest magazine art directors ever, Roland Shenk, spotted Brian Griffin’s maverick talent and commissioned him to contribute to the pages of Management Today, one of several brilliantly designed magazines in the Haymarket Press stable along with advertising industry publication Campaign

I came across Management Today in the magazine archives of a university art school I was deeply frustrated by, and found a kindred spirit in Brian Griffin, an outsider in the world in which he was working and revolutionizing. His work in the corporate sector, then the music world and then in advertising stood out for his singular vision and rare ability to create something extraordinary out of almost nothing at all.

My last visit to Brian Griffin’s Rotherhithe studio far too many years ago was at the point where he was about to give up photography for directing television commercials, celebrating his transition from one creative field to the other with a big bang of a photography exhibition.

Since those days, I am pleased to say, Brian has become a photographer once again and has enjoyed a string of exhibitions of photographs old and new at festivals and galleries all over the northern hemisphere.

Alas, no gallery or photo festival director in this part of the world has seen fit to invite him to show here, to our very great loss. Pledge to Brian Griffin’s Kickstarter campaign for POP, page through the book when you receive it, and you, too, will wonder why.

Then, perhaps, you will also wonder whether Mr Griffin’s next major book publishing project will be a compendium of his equally revolutionary images in the fields of advertising, corporate, magazine and portrait photography.


Header Image:

Portrait of music producer George Martin by Brian Griffin.

Apollo: Do UK museums take photography seriously?

Breakthrough Photography Launches Latest Kickstarter Campaign for a Set of Innovative Top Quality Glass Filter Solutions

Breakthrough Photography, the small, independent San Francisco-based maker of some of the finest glass photographic filters and step-up rings, has just launched its latest Kickstarter campaign. I am a customer of theirs and I only just found out about it, by sheer accident. Companies of all shapes and sizes are increasingly relying on social media to get the advance word out on new product launches and existing product updates, as well as apparently creaky old email lists, and it SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK, especially when Kickstarter Campaigns featuring earlybird discounts are involved. I don’t know what the answer is but surely this ain’t it. 

That aside, Breakthrough Photography’s campaign was launched mere minutes ago at the time of writing, and two out of four pledges are already gone, testimony to the quality and popularity of the company’s products as well as their unique solutions.

I became a Breakthrough Photography customer for two reasons. The most urgent was that I needed a screw-on ND, CPL, and UV or protection filter solution that fingers and hands damaged by an accident at an unsafe state government workplace could attach and detach while minimizing risk of dropping. Breakthrough’s traction frame was the answer.

The second was that I was becoming tired of the myriad of subtle and coarse variations in colour and sharpness I was seeing in other quality brand filters I owned and had paid plenty for. Having to do custom white balances every time one changed a filter was getting beyond a pain.

Graham Clark of Breakthrough Photography does a great job of illustrating these problems in his Performance Gallery and other informational assets on the website but one thing rarely if ever pointed out is that his filters are excellent for video as well as stills photography.

I now add the cost of a Breakthrough Photography UV filter and step-up ring into my new lens budgets, and as the variety of the video work I take on expands, will be factoring in the new square and rectangular filters and filter holder introduced in this Kickstarter Campaign that has already broken through its $50,000 goal with 31 days to go. I will be replacing non-Breakthrough brand filters and step-up rings as finances permit.

I have said it a few times already elsewhere on this site and others, but Breakthrough Photography’s trademark brass CNC-machined traction frames are sheer bloody genius. That and the company’s filter colour neutrality and sharpness should be an inspiration to other top-quality filter makers.

Breakthrough Photography’s screw-on filters and step-up rings are not the universal answer though. I use mirrorless cameras and many lenses in the Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic lens systems have filter diameters in sizes for which Breakthrough does not cater.

I hope that will not always be the case. At the moment I rely on second-best UV and protection filter brands for these lenses and multi-brand, multiple step-up ring kludges for lens filter diameters that Breakthrough does not make filters or step-up rings for right now.

Those second-best filter and step-up ring solutions are made of aluminium, not the far superior brass, and tend to bind and cross-thread. Brass is always better and brass traction frame best of all.

Breakthrough Photography’s current missing diameters include 37mm, 39mm, 43mm and 46mm. I am hoping Mr Clark will see fit to add those diameters to his offerings soon. Potentially dangerous kludges have no place in a working professional’s kit.


Image Credits:

Header image made from screenshot of Breakthrough Photography’s Kickstarter campaign page then processed with Affinity Photo and Alien Skin Exposure X2.

SheDoc Australian Documentary Filmmaking Initiative for Women as Relevant as Ever

Social media has a habit of recycling old news as if it were new news, so little surprise that SheDoc, the joint initiative between Screen NSW and the Documentary Australia Foundation, has appeared on news feeds just as its applications deadline of March 1st looms. 

SheDoc was launched in November 2016 and is a joint initiative of Documentary Australia Foundation and Screen NSW with the support of Røde Microphones.

This initiative is not before its time, given I have witnessed and experienced discrimination for being the wrong person from the wrong side of the tracks for decades now. With luck, female documentary moviemakers who have been unable to break through the glass ceiling may begin to start seeing some cracks appear.

SheDoc’s aim is to give 4 grants per year to:

  • Encourage new voices.
  • Enable skills to be consolidated or developed.
  • Assist projects to be kickstarted.
  • Assist in building strategic audience engagement strategies.


Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.