Legal Droning Will Have to Wait

And other things in photography we learned this week

by David Schonauer

Drone News

The world is grappling with the power of drones. And the whole thing is taking longer than expected.

The Federal Aviation Administration failed to meet a deadline for creating national drone regulations. As the Verge noted, the effort to broadly legalize drones will now take a while longer: An FAA spokesperson told NBC News that final rules for drone flight should be in place “late next spring.” Commercial drone operators currently work in a regulatory gray zone, many hoping to get a Section 333 exemption that lets them fly before the official rules have been worked out. So far, 1,800 of those exemptions have been handed out.

Meanwhile, the FAA imposed a record $1.9-million fine on one commercial drone company, SkyPan International Inc. of Chicago, for flying scores of sorties over some of the country’s most congested airspace in New York and Chicago. USA Today reported the story.

We also learned that the agency is testing a new technology that would located illegal drone operators flying craft near airports. The tech tracks radio signals used to control drones from within a 5-mile radius. And the LA Times reported that California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that prohibits paparazzi from flying drones over private property. The law changes the definition of a “physical invasion of privacy” to include sending a drone into the airspace above someone’s land in order to make a recording or take a photo. Brown previously vetoed broader legislation that would have made flying a drone above someone’s property without permission a trespassing violation.

Other News

In other news, we reported that the art market for photography has not been keeping pace with the markets for other kinds of art. There remains a bias among collectors against photographs because they can be be reproduced. Nonetheless, the recent fall photo auctions in New York saw records set for work by Alfred Stieglitz and a reawakened interest in Robert Mapplethorpe, whose photograph “Man In a Polyester Suit,” which was once denounced in the United States Congress, sold at Sotheby’s for $478,000, including fees. The last time the print was sold at auction, in 1992, it traded hands for $9,900 (about $17,000 when adjusted for inflation), noted the New York Times.

Finally, we learned that Somalia now sits atop the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Index. The annual report details countries where journalists are killed with no resulting convictions. The list includes 14 countries where at least five journalists were murdered and no one was convicted of those murders. They include Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost 96 percent of those killed were local journalists. See Poynter.

Here are some of the photo stories we looked at this week:

1. American Heartland, West of the 100th Meridian

For New York City-based photographer Andrew Moore, the land west of the 100th meridian — the line that slices the US in half — is far more than “flyover country,” noted Feature Shoot. Or, to be more specific, Moore has given a new definition to “flyover.” For the past 10 years, he and pilot Doug Dean have been skimming over the landscape at a low altitude in a small Cessna airplane to capture it in a unique way. The result is his series “Dirt Meridian,” a glimpse of a seemingly empty place that is filled with life, and ghosts.

2. The Extraordinary Life of Philippe Halsman

Legendary photographer Philippe Halsman shot 101 covers of Life magazine — while also making the likes of Richard Nixon and Marilyn Monroe jump for art’s sake. We took a look at Halsman’s extraordinary life and work, which are the focus of an exhibition currently at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. The show underscores his importance in 20th-century photography: As one critic noted, his photos of famous subjects jumping in the air helped photography itself make the leap between reality and imagination.

3. Tim Tadder’s “Las Muertas”

California-based advertising photographer Tim Tadder has created a personal project called “Las Muertas” that was inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos. “Two things came into play that inspired this project,” says Tadder. “First and foremost, a wild fire burned homes and land very close (across the street) from our studio.” Tadder says he was looking for a way to capture the “incredible beauty in the destruction.” The other thing that provoked the series, noted the A Photo Editor blog, was Halloween.

4. On the Front Lines of the Battle Against Gray Hair

Photography has recently been used as an instrument to explore issues of body image, including the inevitable process of aging and the pressure (from within and from society) to fight it. Photographer Pam Connolly’s series “Salon Studies,” which we spotlighted this week, focuses on women treating their gray, and, as Connolly shows, the effort comes with a price. “As you start to go gray there’s a lot of pressure not to be gray,” she says.

5. Capturing the Nobility of Farm Animals

New Zealand-based photographer Cally Whitham’s series “Epitaph” suggests that there is an inherent but overlooked dignity in farm animals, noted Feature Shoot. Mass production of such animals by today’s globalized agriculture industry has rendered such animals as mere products, she says. Whitham found her subjects in farms across rural New Zealand; almost all of her subjects are now dead, but her painterly images remember them as individuals that should be celebrated.

Originally published by AI-AP.

David Schonauer is Editor of Pro Photo Daily and Motion Arts Pro. Follow him on Twitter. Jeffrey Roberts is Publisher of American Photography (AI-AP) the finest juried collection of photography in hardcover as well as Pro Photo Daily. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter. Follow Pro Photo Daily on Facebook.

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