Movie-goers at the inaugural Summer Cinema event. Photo (with a Georges Seurat effect): Ira Serkes

The night was less than balmy, but that didn’t deter around 250 people making their way to Center Street Saturday evening for the first of four Summer Cinema free outdoor screenings.

Some participants brought their own chairs and blankets, others rented fold-up chairs at the booth of the organizers, the Downtown Berkeley Association. Radiant Brand’s Steven Donaldson was spotted carrying in a whole selection of seating possibilities, including a wooden chair wrenched from the ground in his garden.

An artist from the Firehouse Collective performs with a flaming hula-hoop. Photo Tracey Taylor

Pre-movie entertainment at Center Street Summer Cinema, which was sponsored by Berkeleyside among others, included the excellent Mark Rosenthal on Caribbean steel drums and an impressive performance by Pirate-clad artists from the Fire Arts Collective.

Mark Rosenthal played the Caribbean drums to entertain movie goers before the screening. Photo Tracey Taylor

A couple of restaurants, including Sportivo, set out chairs and tables outside on the closed-off street while some movie-goers opted to buy take-out from local eateries and enjoy it while watching the cartoons that preceded the sundown screening of The Princess Bride.

Young winners of the movie night’s pirate costume contest. Photo Tracey Taylor

Several members of Berkeley’s Ambassadors’ program were on hand to keep a friendly eye on proceedings and ensure the evening went smoothly.

Bar Ristorante Sportivo took advantage of a closed street to serve customers al fresco. Photo Tracey Taylor

The movie series continues next Saturday with a showing of Pixar’s Up. As at the inaugural event, prizes will be awarded for best costumes and the evening kicks off at 6:00pm with Steve Laciak on Brazilian guitar.

Raiders of the Lost Ark shows on August 20 and The Big Lebowski on August 27. Full information can be found here. 

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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18 Comments

  1. Joe S.,
     I certainly recognize your concerns and appreciate the thought you’ve given defining photo journalism.  There have certainly been some egregious scandals in the area digital manipulation of images so I can appreciate the need for standards in maintaining the public trust.  That said , I’d like to make a couple of points.  The first one is that you’re making an argument that publishing less information is better than more.  Our eyes can pick out the shadow detail, why should we lose it to the limitation of the sensor (or film).  Second, built in HDR functionality is becoming common place as cameras and multipurpose devices have more image processing capability.  In many cases, this involves taking two photos in rapid succession with different exposures.  The human visual system uses both spatial and temporal data, so why shouldn’t photography?  Should Berkeleyside not use an HDR image sent in by a citizen journalist?  Lastly, the cat is out of the bag as there are HDR sensors on the market with separate high and low gain amplifiers.  These will only come down in price and become more common place over the next decade.  That said, I’m still up in the air over the use of the lead image (many thanks to Ira for publishing the original).

  2. Anyone have any idea why Disqus still shows multiple “returns” after I’ve edited them out and saved the edited post?

    I tend to create longer posts in TextEdit or Pages, then copy and paste them.Ira

  3. HDR / DIGITAL PROCESSING
    Many HDR photos look like something Ansel Adams would be forced to create were he were an indentured servant to Thomas Kinkade.  

    That said, I like it when BerkeleySide use whichever graphic best illustrates the story.   

    Jana Bouc’s watercolors are delightful, and wonderfully illustrate shops on Fourth Street in a way that photos couldn’t.

    https://berkeleyside-newspack.newspackstaging.com/2010/11/22/fourth-st-sketches/

    Most of the time a photo “as-taken” does the job.  

    Sometimes a watercolor, sketch or digitally modified photo does a better job.    

    The only issue for me – identify the image as such. Tracey labelled my “Photo (with a Georges Seurat effect)”  … which described it well.

    Was this the appropriate image to use “above the fold”? For this event, I think yes.  It’s clear that this is a digitally modified image.  Definitely not a work of art, it captures the feeling well for me (and made Carol smile too)

    Ansel Adams said “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”  

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/anseladams110426.html

    “Clearing Winter Storm” prints were created with dodging and burning, so would likely not meet photojournalistic standards.  I’d still love to see BerkeleySide use it in a relevant story if they had the rights to do so.

    Dodging and burning is probably would be the only way to take an actual photo which captured people watching the movie … and that most definitely wouldn’t be a news-quality photo. 

    Here’s the original photo

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/serkes/6025893806/in/photostream

    My initial reaction?  Toss it.

    Then I wondered what would happen if I applied software effects … so opened it in Photomatix Pro and applied Tone Mapping to it.  I just “pushed the button” then saved the version I found most interesting.    

    Here’s the result (the version Tracey used)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/serkes/6020959924/in/photostream

    This photo 

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/serkes/6020407413/in/photostream/

    Reminded me of Seurat’s “Circus Sideshow”

    http://goo.gl/EWkZk

    That’s why I captioned the series “The night before Seurat spent Sunday In The Park, he spent Saturday night in a Berkeley Park-ing lot”

    REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY

    The secret is in the lighting … and that’s where Thomas Grubba [http://www.tgrubbaphoto.com/] excels. 

    His shutter clicks 3-5 times when he takes photos for us, so I know that some photos we use are mergers of several different exposures.  

    This site outlines “Proposed Real Estate Photography Guidelines for Image Modification”

    http://photographyforrealestate.net/proposed-real-estate-photography-code-of-ethics/

    These proposed guidelines seem reasonable to me … what do you think?

    Ira Serkes

  4. Hi EBGuy,

    For our purposes, when I say “HDR” I mean something like the “auto-seurat”ish image above, where you can see far more dynamic range than the human eye can, from the darkest parts of the shadows under the chairs, to the details on the projection screen. This is, of course, only the same technology that digital camera manufacturers build into their software (Nikon’s D-Lighting, Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimizer, etc.), but taken to a much more extreme point. The difference is that D-Lighting often recovers what the eye CAN see (the eye having better dynamic range than a D700 sensor), whereas HDR recovers much, much more (as the image above demonstrates). So while you could’ve seen a similar scene had you been at the screening — as you point out — you certainly wouldn’t have seen one like this, unless you have some special visual powers.
     
    I don’t have beef with HDR in general. I have beef with HDR in news reporting, because it’s essentially a doctored photo. If the final obligation is to the truth, I think HDR images are problematic because they aren’t truthful. And, as we discussed above, they “muddy the waters” of straight news photography. In addition, the Seurat effect that’s being used here makes the image look really noisy. Before the “seurat effect” text was added in the caption, I thought the image had just been taken at a really high ISO. Color noise ain’t pretty; in a “straight” news photo some noise reduction presumably would’ve been used.

    With regard to real estate photography, you can expose for the outdoors and indoors in the same exposure if you light the scene correctly (even with just one or two bounced, gelled flashes). That’s not to say that you should do that, or that iPhone real estate photos are inferior, but you totally can if you want. Strobist.com has some good tutorials, FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Joey

  5. Joe S., Can you please explain your beef with HDR (other than I don’t like it when amateurs are let loose with this technology — and you know, there is something to be said for that argument).  The “auto-Seurat” thing I get, but you specifically called out HDR.  Are you asserting that you could have taken a more ‘realistic’ photo by conventional (whatever that means) methods that would have been representative of the scene that evening. I am, admittedly, well out of my league here, but I assert that HDR might actually be better in a night scene like this.  I can see the movie, street scene, and people watching the movie — just as if I was there. YMMV.
    PS – Tracey, how about an expose on HDR photography being used in real estate listings.  Talk about HDR run amok.  Then again, heaven forbid someone being able to see an interior AND what’s outside of the window.  I mean, if you really want that, you should hire a professional photographer who can do multiple exposures and then piece together the indoor and outdoor scenes in Photoshop.  Hmmm.. hire a professional.  The iPhone is going to put us all out of business.

  6. Hi Tracey,

    First of all, I’m impressed that the editors here communicate so well with readers (even ones who phrase their initial comments in a way that’s regrettably snarky).

    In this case, I think the waters were particularly muddied because the photo illustration was chosen to lead, with the straighter ones below. Or maybe the two shouldn’t mix in the same story at all. We talked about this a lot at the paper I used to work for, but I still don’t know.

    Cheers,
    Joey

  7. Joe — this is Tracey Taylor here using Lance’s laptop. I made the decision to use Ira Serkes’ altered photo for this story. I liked it and the ones I had taken of people watching the movie were not very good. 

    However I actually agree with you that, even though this wasn’t a hard news story, we should have stuck to using as straightforward a photo as possible. 

    On reflection, I think it muddies the water when you put an artistic photo on a piece of journalism. As far as I know this is the first time we have done this. And I won’t be doing it again. (Even if it means I take a different view from my fellow editor!)

  8. D. H. and lknobel,

    I don’t think appeals to journalistic standards are pretentious; I just think they’re important, as someone who’s worked as a staff photographer and photo editor in New York. If you want to emphasize what’s subjective, I guess I’d just point to the viewer’s subjective experience of the movie event. No one saw it as it’s depicted in your photo, because no one can see 11 stops of dynamic range.

    I explicitly didn’t say I found your work ugly. Nor did I say I thought you’re next Damon Winter. I wasn’t judging it on those merits at all, nor did I mean for my comment to be a personal attack. (See how my language is directed at the editors, not at you?)

    If it’s intended to be a photo (and it’s credited as such and appears alongside other “straight” photos which are appropriately labeled), it should look more like a photo. Otherwise, maybe it should be tagged “photo illustration,” or something like that.

    Cheers,
    Joey

  9. D. H. and lknobel,

    I don’t think appeals to journalistic standards are pretentious; I just think they’re important, as someone who’s worked as a staff photographer and photo editor in New York. If you want to emphasize what’s subjective, I guess I’d just point to the viewer’s subjective experience of the movie event. No one saw it as it’s depicted in your photo, because no one can see 11 stops of dynamic range.

    I explicitly didn’t say I found your work ugly. Nor did I say I thought you’re next Damon Winter. I wasn’t judging it on those merits at all, nor did I mean for my comment to be a personal attack. (See how my language is directed at the editors, not at you?)

    If it’s intended to be a photo (and it’s credited as such and appears alongside other “straight” photos which are appropriately labeled), it should look more like a photo. Otherwise, maybe it should be tagged “photo illustration,” or something like that.

    Cheers,
    Joey

  10. Amen, Daniel. One of the things we’re proudest of on Berkeleyside is the extraordinary group of photographers we’ve been able to draw on.

    There’s also a distinction to be made between straight news photos — let’s say of a fire or demo — and the deliberately artistic approach taken by Ira Serkes on Saturday night. It’s not pretending to be a news photo — it’s more in the nature of an illustration.

  11. My photos are occasionally used on Berkeleyside (see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/parksdh/sets/72157626234020320). Many of them are HDR. It sort of gives me a sad to think that my photography won’t pass muster with random dudes on the internet… but not really, because I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. 

    From start to finish, photography is inherently subjective. That being the case, let’s strip this whining of its pretentious appeals to journalistic standards and rewrite it in a more direct form: “Berkeleyside should not post photos that I personally find ugly.” Well, stop complaining and go take the damn photos yourself.

  12. Please, please, please stop using HDR images for news photos (see top image of movie-goers). It’s tantamount to exaggerating a quotation from a source or changing details in a description — in short, below the standards of an awesome news site like Berkeleyside. Thanks.

  13. Great event.  I was surprised more people didn’t take advantage of the Center Street closure to mix and mingle before the movie, but I’m sure Saturday’s arctic temperatures had something to do with that.  Come out early next week, folks.  Thanks to those who organized.  We’ll be back!