It's been a whirlwind of a time since I hit the New York City pavement on Thursday at 9:48 a.m. , fresh off the 6:35 a.m. train out of Union Station in Washington , DC. The Jacob Javits Convention Center is crammed with the likes of all those who have an affiliation with photography, and I must say, it's a wonderful thing.
It's too bad this contained, imaging utopia isn't real life though. For the place is a celebration of beauty, real life and the technology, retailers and educational institutions that get it to that level. Although it is still too early to predict the actual number of participants, I got word that management is indeed pleased with the turnout, with numbers exceeding last year.
I can attest that it is difficult to stroll on the exhibition floor as all lanes are crowded arm- to-arm with photographers, press, sales people and pr reps. Like tourists in a new city, many stroll the show with their eyes looking up, not paying attention to the road in front of them. There's less a sense of buzz, but more a sense of intrigue with the products this year. People are eager to collect all the information that is humanly possible to stuff in the vendor-provided shopping bags.
The staff of Studio Photography and PTN magazines is here, including Editors Alice Miller and Diane Berkenfeld, who are, in their own right, queens of efficiency in the media-marinated marsh made up of hundreds of vendors.
Like peddlers pushing their wares, there's something particularly old-fashioned about a show like this where people from all over actually get to talk to each other, without some kind of cyberspace connecting them. Participants actually get to chat and have good-ole traditional sit-downs. Ironically, all this conventional goodness takes place in the interstitial spaces within millions of dollars of cameras and technical equipment. The paradox seems to be akin to a world at peace.
A few of us had a tête-à-tête with Kostas Mallios, senior director for Microsoft's office of the CTO and Rich Media Strategies. He explained their thrilling plans to roll out their Vista operating system by late January and IView by February. He called Vista “super stable” and added, “It took between 3 and 4,000 people working on this for five years to get it out and with good reason.” It will “blow out of the water” the concept that Microsoft is not “graphically sexy,” he said. Mallios named a number of well-known shooters, such as Steve McCurry, who have made the switch from Mac to PC with this technology.
Sinar Bron Imaging has modified its popular Sinarback 54 M to the Sinarback 54 MC model, according to the company's Program Coordinator Jessica Conrad. Its new version, just put on the market, is actively cooled with Peltier and a fan, which prevents it from, “overheating,” she said. The fan also allows for a significant reduction in noise. Also, the Sinar Hy6, a joint venture with Franke & Heidecake and Jenoptic is set to be released in the U.S. by the early second quarter of 2007. The rolling body, medium-format camera covers the 6 x 4.5 and 6 x 6 formats.
Sony's booth was a theater of organized chaos, with many camera samples to touch and feel. Impressive was the new Alpha series - a100 digital SLR camera. One of the highlights is a proximity focus, a lens that will focus no matter where it is placed.
A real hit was the LiveBooks booth. The company which creates editable portfolio Web sites for professional photographers had pros walk-through their sites with participants on big screens. They also offered portfolio reviews by reservation. “I can do everything with this,” photographer Colin Finlay said.
A large and colorful Adobe theater greets participants as they enter the show room floor. One course on tap Thursday was “Special Effects for Creative Professionals using Adobe Photoshop” presented by Photographer Seth Resnick. Adding to the event's electricity, “I just arrived five minutes ago from the airport,” he said.
The sold out course sessions of the day: Light without Light and The Art of the Portrait.
Finally, the most moving part of my day: An announcement by the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Company that they have made an alliance with the humanitarian organization CARE. The group works to fight global poverty and has been working with HP in recent months to produce the “I am Powerful” exhibit. It's a call-to-action campaign to help empower women in poverty around the world. See the full story in a future story on the new event.
Other highlights: Canon's face-detection technology cameras that employ an algorithm to identify a face no matter what else is in the background, smaller cameras jamming in more mega pixels and GPS cameras that save the time and GPS locations of shots.