Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Contact Sheet

This is a photo-book from Ammo that was well received, at least in snowed-in photographer-circles. It combines a collection of very famous photographs with the contact-sheets they were picked out of.

A brief introduction of the contact-sheet for non-photographers and those who only ever used digital cameras, who might not have heard of it before. When shooting negative film, most photographers just do not have the ability to visualise the positive image when looking at the negative. So, what they do is place all the negatives from a roll of film directly on a piece of photo-paper and make print of that. It is called a contact-sheet because the negatives are in contact with the photographic paper.

In the book each final print is paired with it's contact sheet. Shown above is Elliott Erwitt's photograph of Marilyn Monroe. You can see his selection process right on the contact sheet; marking the frames he likes and picking those to enlarge. Final selection would of course be made from the enlargements. As you see, the picture marked as "#1" wasn't the final pick.

I just wanted to show a 'contact sheet' from a large-format photographer too. Much of early large-format photography was only ever contact-copied, although it obviously holds up to much greater enlargements than 35mm does. But you get to see two alternative views of the famous photograph of "Case Study House #22".

Each photograph is accompanied by a brief biography of the photographer and an equally brief story about the photograph. In case you don't read the Queens, it is also provided in French, German and Spanish. It is a nicely bound book, with good quality paper and quite decent reproductions. Its main features are the range of photographers, 44 in total, and the insight into their work you get from seeing all the pictures they didn't pick.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Small Trades by Irving Penn

The well known Vogue photographer Irving Penn, didn't exclusivly shoot the famous, the pretty and the nude in the world of high fashion. From the beginning he was a still-life photographer. He did a large series of portraits of more common people with the implements of their trades. From the start it was a feature for Vogue about the workers of Paris, but he continued long after that. The entire series is 252 portraits and was bought by the Getty museum in 2008. The Getty is also the publisher of the book.

The book is quite hefty and very well made, with heavy, luxurious paper. In the beginning there is an example contact-sheet with some slight variations of the pose of the subject, and some pictures from the back. That way one can get an idea, if only a slight idea, how he worked. There is also a picture of his Paris studio with a large window on the wall and one in the ceiling. In addition, he has a reflector and a mottled back-drop, but that is it. It looks positively frugal by today's measure.

The pictures as such are reproduced in outstanding quality. They depict, apparently, comfortably posed workmen and women with one or two tell-tale tools that they use in their work.

It is a brilliant book for anyone interested in photography in general or in portraiture in any medium.

Julius Shulman in Modernism Rediscovered

I am in the middle of my one-week vacation. That means I try to do some photography. While trying to find some inspiration for doing that; I found some new (for me) photo-books. A perfect combination of activities becomes photographing photo-books and writing short reviews.

First out is Modernism Rediscovered, which is a book about the modernist movement in American architecture; And photographs by Julius Shulman. One of the big names in photography and one of the very best know architectural photographers ever. His probably best known picture is the "Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, 1960. Pierre Koenig, Architect." Which you can see below (It is from 'The Contact Sheet', another book that I will come to shortly):

I had of course seen his photos before, but it wasn't until recently I found out who took them. There is a film about his life and photography called 'Visual Acoustics'. It inspired me to set out to find a matching book. Luckily it turned out that Taschen has one. Not only do they have one, it has a special-price edition. Very affordable. Very high quality. Very good reproductions.

And if you are interested in architecture as such, there seems to be a wealth of information in the text. =)

More to come.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Treatment-targets in hypertension

We have to congratulate Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff and her co-authors on their recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association on: "Tight blood pressure control and cardiovascular outcomes among hypertensive patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease" reporting a sub-group analysis from the INVEST study.

This adds another sub-group analysis to the long discussion about the "J"-curve found in blood pressure vs. cardiovascular out-comes in hypertension studies. See, for example, this review by Alberto Zanchetti and co-workers from 2009. Similar results were found in the ONTARGET and VALUE and TNT trials. In all these trials the risk of a cardiovascular end-point starts to increase when pressure goes below 120 mmHg. Which also holds true for the INVEST trial. One important new point is that in the INVEST trial the all-cause-mortality - the first among equals of end-points - also increases with lowered systolic blood pressure. Although it is only significantly increased at pressures lower than 110 mmHg the trend is increasing already from 130 mmHg.

An important point is that all these trials concern the treatment of high risk patients. An untreated systolic blood pressure between 120 and 130 mmHg is rather considered pre-hypertension and is associated with increased risk, and will probably be indicated for treatment once the proper trials have been done. However, if you are a patient with hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease there is more and more evidence indicating that your pressure should be lowered with moderation.

What the field still lacks is a randomised controlled study where patients are randomised to either systolic blood pressure below 130 mmHg or between 130 and 140 mmHg. Before that there is no certain way of distinguishing the ability to get below 130mmHg from the intent to lower blood pressure below 130mmHg. That is, if there are, for example, a population of more pressure-labile patients that are at higher risk or if there is some other uncontrolled reason for this larger risk.

While some guidelines are lagging a little, the core result was known at least a year ago, and is reflected in the 2009 guidelines from the European Society of Hypertension where the target for diabetic patients have been adjusted upwards to higher than 130 and lower than 140 mmHg.

The next question is: "Why is this so?"

What happens with in high risk patients with serious co-morbidities that makes them vulnerable to aggressive lowering of blood pressure? I think it has to do partly with changes in the microvasculature that adapts the circulatory system to higher pressures, i.e. remodeling and hypertrophy; and partly with end-organ damage in the form of fibrosis and reduced capillary density making an increased capillary pressure important for a sufficient fluid and nutrient exchange over the capillary walls.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Playing ball

The proper training of dogs warrant treats. The better the treat the better the result so to say. There is this boxer in my house that thinks treats are conspicuously conspiratorial ways of making her do things she normally wouldn't. On the other hand, if, instead of a treat you use a ball - as I might have mentioned - she's willing to do anything.

Happily skipping along towards the field where balls are thrown and hunted.

Sitting as pretty as can be, begging to run after said ball.

Jumping on command for me to try and catch her picture.

Guarding her prize in the shadow of a trimmed hedge, rather like a dragon on her hoard.

There we are: The training and rewarding of blackish boxer bitches.

by Me.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

FASEB Summer Research Conference - Renal Hemodynamics

Jeff Garvin, introducing the second day of the meeting, if I remember correctly.

If any meeting deserves its own post it is the FASEB Summer Research Conference on Renal Hemodynamics. This year with the sub-title: Mechanisms to understand disease. It has been arranged every three years since 1989. This year, and mostly, it was at the boarding school Vermont Academy in Saxton's River, Vermont, USA.

The walk-way from the dorms to the dining-hall, going in the other direction you get to the auditorium. The dining-hall and auditorium were the only two air-conditioned spaces there, making them quite popular with the participants in the not-quite-100-degree Vermont summer.

As you gather from the name, it is a tightly scoped meeting that draws around 120 people to a half-a-week of 8.30am - 10.20pm scientific sessions. There is a generous lunch break for soccer, softball, paddling, basket ball or discussing papers and collaborations.

In the nicely hot weather, it was very refreshing to go swimming in the river, which was more of a creek than an actual river.

Another pass-time was walking around in the woods, not that I did much of that. This was taken on the way to bathing.

Organisers were Jeff Garvin and David Pollock who did a terrific job. The program was varied and interesting, providing more than usual space to younger investigators. This piqued some senior PIs that weren't invited and therefore stayed at home. Luckily, even they sent, or allowed, their more junior members to participate.

One of the very best part of this meeting is the poster sessions, which start when the bar opens in the evening. There were around 30 posters per session. About twice the size of a poster section at any larger meeting. There was ample time to visit all the posters and discuss science over beer. This was followed by more beer and ping-pong, fussball or billiards. Followed by late night story telling under the starry skies in Vermont, which may or may not have been abetted by the drinking of bourbon.

After a week of that, it is lucky that you can blame it all on the jet-lag when you get home.