Pioneer of Photography: Jeanne J. Bertrand

Jeanne J. Bertrand

You probably have already heard the story of street photographer Vivian Maier and her discovery by former real estate agent John Maloof from Chigago. This began in late 2007, and a good online source is the article “The Life and Work of Street Photographer Vivian Maier” by Nora O’Donnell.

Little known, though, is the fact that, as a four-year old child, Vivian Maier and her mother lived with French photographer Jeanne J. Bertrand for some time. On the web site of writer Jim Leonhirth I found a PDF of an article from the Boston Globe, dated August 23, 1902. This fascinating article, entitled “FROM FACTORY TO HIGH PLACE AS ARTIST. Jeanne J. Bertrand, a Girl Of 21, Has Become One of the Eminent Photographers of Connecticut.” describes the story of a 21-year old French girl, who gave up a job at a needle factory in Torrington, Conn., to study the art of photography— in the late 19th century (this happened most likely around 1898) quite an adventure.

Besides the fascinating story, I wonder inhowfar Jeanne J. Bertrand may have—if only unconsciously—had an influence on Vivian Maier respectively her decision to take up photography. Since Jim Leonhirth is preparing a book on the life of Jeanne J. Bertrand, this may shed some further light on Vivian Maier as well.

Editing photographs in CinePaint

After having been tired of the comparably low quality the Gimp 2.6.7 offers, about one week ago I stumbled upon a .deb file1 of CinePaint 0.25, and much to my surprise, it worked! (In the past, making CinePaint work under Ubuntu was sort of a challenge: often, there were no appropriate .deb packages available, and when compiling CinePaint from source I often ran into problems with the color management.) Now I’m in the process of applying the bitmap editing techniques I used to use with the Gimp to CinePaint. About the main issue are masks. While mask handling using the Gimp is a bit difficult, it is even more so in CinePaint. But: the reward is the really impressve quality one experiences when working with CinePaint. (I usually work in 8-bit mode, although CinePaint offers up to 32-bit color depth/channel.)

Since CinePaint is an application for retouching film, the requirements are somewhat different from those of say, Photoshop. One thing, though, I would really love to see in CinePaint is the possibility to tweak an existing mask. (And, maybe, a quickmask mode. 😉

When starting CinePaint, it becomes immediately apparent that it is targeted at pros. The interface, somewhat resembling the one of Gimp (CinePaint evolved out of Gimp 1.0), is stripped of anything unnecessary; the filters available are stripped down to the absolute essentials: blur, gaussian blur, motion blur, sharpen, unsharp mask, two noise filters, and a few others. But–unlike the Gimp–CinePaint offers, as I said, up to 32-bit color depth/channel (including HDR), proper CMYK, and a well-designed color management system, afaik based on LittleCMS.

CinePaint is currently available for Linux, MacOS X, and BSD. Additionally, a tarball is available, in order to compile CinePaint from source. (There used to be a version for Windows available as well, and, according to the information on the CinePaint web site, will be availabe again sometime in the future.) In addition to the current version (the ‘Film Gimp’ version, which is based on GTK 2) , a new version named ‘Glasgow’ is under development. Unlike the ‘Film Gimp’ version, ‘Glasgow’ is based on FLTK and will consist of a number of different applications (see the overview on the CinePaint site).

To sum it up, due to the really professional approach and the clear interface, CinePaint is one of my favorite graphics apps. I’m especially curious how the new ‘Glasgow’ version will evolve.

Related: CinePaint.


1 You can find it at http://www.megaupload.com/?d=EY4W6NAX.

Photo editing (2)

My latest edit of a photograph from Stockvault. Software used: Gimp 2.6.7.

Photo editing

This is a free photograph that I downloaded from Stockvault (original: left; edited version: right). To my surprise, I came up with a not-so-bad contemporary fashion photography effect.

On fashion photography

I come to realize that I find most of contemporary fashion photography boring. Technically perfect—but that’s about it. Two notable exceptions that come to my mind are Sheila Metzner and Ellen von Unwerth.

Image of the Week

Shop window, shot in 1993.

Bitmap editing in Inkscape

bitmap, edited using Inkscape

This is an attempt of mine to use Inkscape 0.46 for bitmap editing. I got the idea for this sometime last year, and I already posted a few attempts of mine on Flickr. The reason for all of this is, that the handling of the bézier curves in Inkscape is so amazingly intuitive that the idea for using this for bitmap editing came kind of automatically, after I had imported a few bitmaps into Inkscape and tried out different things. (I actually cannot exactly recall when it occured to me that Inkscape has possibilities for bitmap editing, but I guess it was when I trie d to to edit a few of my own photographs and had to realize that the possibilities of the Gimp where somewhat limited for the things I wanted to do.

Here’s just one example of a task that is a bit challenging when trying to use the Gimp:

The problem is that the clone brush doesn’t work so well because the transition between the different brush strokes is not as smooth as it should be. In Inkscape, though, I found a feasible solution for this by using gradients. By superimposing several circular gradients over one another & then fine-tuning the result in Gimp (read: adding some noise and using the clone brush a bit here and there) I was able to get satisfactory results. (At first—before I decided to use Inkscape—I even gave CinePaint a try, but although the brushes in CinePaint are of far better quality than in Gimp, the look of the edited areas was not as smooth as I wanted it to be.)

After trying some basic bitmap editing, I went one step further & used Inkscape for things like additional eyelashes, eye shadow, and lip gloss.

Then, still one step futher, I painted some floral vector pattern on top of the respective bitmap & exported the result as a PNG.

Yesterday I made a new discovery: that it is possible (and comparably easy) to use Inkscape as a vector paint app, similar to the—as to my knowledge discontinued—paint* by discreet; only that the strokes in Inkscape cannot be animated that easily. (Basically it is feasible, though, to animate SVGs by using a language such as JavaScript.)