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The Presidential Portrait Goes Digital 295

alphadogg writes "Barack Obama's election to US president has already brought a string of firsts, and on Wednesday there came another. The official presidential portrait was shot on a digital camera for the first time. The picture was taken by the White House's new official photographer, Pete Souza, and issued by The Office of the President Elect through its Web site. It was taken on Tuesday evening at 5:38 p.m. using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, according to the metadata embedded in the image file."
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The Presidential Portrait Goes Digital

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  • by happy_place ( 632005 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:22AM (#26465085) Homepage
    ...and so the reign of photoshop begins...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Bring out the Gimp!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by severoon ( 536737 )

      You guys should read the strobist thread [] on it. I'm in a bunch of photo-geek forums and the comments have been really entertaining...

      "His shoulder is cut off. It doesn't flow!"
      "The loop lighting is too subtle."
      "Why'd they use an octabox???"
      "Couldn't afford a hair light what with the economy and all, eh?"
      "Taken with the new Canon 5D-MkII...nice!"
      "Who did the color charting? Skin tone is way orange!"

      I thought they were hard on my photos when I post 'em...

  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:24AM (#26465105) Homepage

    ...but this. Come on. I get this being newsworthy at Gizmodo etc. But Slashdot? Seriously... Cool, yes. Newsworthy? Not buying it. ;)

    • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:41AM (#26465351) Journal

      slow news day?

      or VERY SLOW news day?

      You decide.

      There's an idle tag, but honestly, I think this is below the bar, even for idle.

    • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @11:06AM (#26465663) Journal

      Despite what its tagline says, slashdot long ago ceased to be any sort of news site. It is a discussion site. You've been here long enough that you should know that.

      This story certainly isn't breaking news, it's trivia at best, but human beings (especially nerds) are very good at talking about and arguing over trivia. Throw in politics, and the never ending debate of the merits of film vs. digital, and I think there's plenty to discuss.

    • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @11:08AM (#26465701) Homepage Journal

      Cool, yes. Newsworthy? Not buying it.

      I agree. It's hard to think of it in such terms, but a lot has changed in technology since Bush took office. Obama is not the first to be shot with a digital camera because he's so tech savvy (as the summary implies), but rather because in the last eight years, digital film has almost entirely replaced film photography.

      To put this into perspective, when Bush took office only early adopters had digital cameras. I got my first one (VGA resolution, even!) about the time Bush was sworn in. High resolution cameras capable of replacing film were simply impractical and too expensive for even professional photography. Fast forward eight years and a 'friggin cell phone can take multi-megapixel photos. The professional gear is just as affordable, if not more so, than the analog stuff and can produce resolutions that are more than comparable to a good film. The advantages of the new technology (e.g. zero film cost, easy manipulation, digital transfer, quick reproduction, etc.) are too numerous to fully name. In result, there are very few photographers who still use film-based cameras.

      Thus my point is simply this: This is a whole lot of non-news. ;-)

    • Jeeeez...
      In what kind of a backwater-hillbilly-hicktown do you live and work if "takin pichers de-je-telly" is considered cool?

      Does your modem come with a cradle for your telephone handset?
      Do you have to "crank-up" your telephone before going online?
      Is the monitor you are reading this on black and white?

      I mean... come on.
      I can understand going old-tech as a part of "geek pride"-thing, but there ARE limits.

  • by WmLGann ( 1143005 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:25AM (#26465131) Homepage
    Just heard an interview with the photographer on NPR. It's semi-off-topic in that it doesn't have to do with the medium used for photographs but still an interesting piece I think. []
  • 5:38 pm (Score:4, Funny)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:26AM (#26465139) Homepage Journal

    And here I always thought he looked his best at 5:39.

  • He's not the first black President.

    He's the first hipster President.
  • No more negatives. I've recently gone back to film and hand processing. Yes it's a real pain but there is a distinctive film look that digital just doesn't create.

    • is there really a difference in the result ? analog AND digital pictures are of such a high quality that YOUR EYE is the weak link.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I'm sure somebody said that during the advent of the DVD.

        And then Blu-Ray came out.

        • I'm sure somebody said that during the advent of the DVD.

          Then that someone was quite uninformed, as the limits of human vision are quite well known and both DVD and BD are still far from reaching them.

          Don't confuse marketing with science.

        • by timster ( 32400 )

          That's not really a very meaningful point... even 10MP digital cameras have much more resolution than Blu-Ray, and most people like photos to be smaller than they like their TV to be.

          If you do want to enlarge photos to ginormous sizes (and look at them close up) you cannot do that with 35mm film. At that scale you need a larger format.

      • Re:Sad (Score:5, Funny)

        by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:44AM (#26465395) Homepage
        You know how it is, vinyl sounds better than CD, stone carvings have a warmer feeling than oil paintings etc.
      • I beg to differ. There is a noticeable difference between digital and film, especially when it comes to tonality in larger formats. That and there's nothing as beautiful as an 8x10 transparency.

    • No more negatives. I've recently gone back to film and hand processing. Yes it's a real pain but there is a distinctive film look that digital just doesn't create.

      You just need the right algorithm.

      There's no such thing as the impossible to digitalize color, or look, or feel. If a human being can distinguish digital from analog, there's a problem with the equipment or with the image treatment software.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      And I would guess that a presidential photos should be on medium or large format film instead of a low res digital photo.

      Come on, first black president and we shoot it with a crappy 5D? (yes it IS crappy compared to a decent medium format camera) Why not a nice large format or medium format to get insane detail. I'm hoping they at least used a nice L series portrait lens.

      Digital has it's place for 98% of photography. but the important stuff, you gotta use the real cameras.

      P.S. my cheapie used Medium for

  • by ( 745855 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:41AM (#26465347) Homepage

    The 5D Mark II is amazing.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:55AM (#26465501)

      Mod it funny if you want, but he's right. It's the first SLR still camera to take full high-quality 1080 24p video footage. Given the camera's incredible sensor and lens selection, it's a still camera that threatens to cannibalize Canon's entire prosumer video line - which is why they had to artifically hamper some features, like disallowing manual exposure in video mode.

      I work with video every day, and I have a hard time not using our 5D mkII over our $8000 Sony XDCAM on many shoots.

    • 5D Mark II

      The picture was taken by the White House's new official MECHWARRIOR!, Pete Souza,

      Had to correct it.

  • but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by M-RES ( 653754 )
    ...what about the Geotagging? THAT's what we really want to know... WHERE was it taken? ;P
  • This is news how? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:47AM (#26465429)

    Um, I've been using digital pictures/cameras for near over a decade now. I think that it is more news that this hasn't already been done the last ten years rather than this one new guy is "the first" to use it.

    What next? The first president to create his own daily you tube channel, blog, website/forum, on-line poll asking the public who he should pick for cabinet positions, or owning/using his own PDA/Cell phone?

  • by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:54AM (#26465493) Homepage Journal

    At least we've still got a physical human being for a President.

    Next step, the Virtual President []. Sims expansion pack, anyone?

    • Hah. Have you actual DNA from this President? For all we know he could be an alien. They are still arguing whether he has a fake birth certificate.

  • It makes sense to use a digital camera since 99.99% of the use of that picture is going to be put on .gov websites or sent to post offices so they can change the picture in the frame, or in publications that are probably made with something like InDesign. I'd imagine whatever advantages you got out of the film photo (which I was never a believer in until out wedding photos were done on an antique camera with the crank and everything out of a 50's period movie), would be lost in the scanning process.

    If I
  • Beware, that could be seen as a threat to national security.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @11:09AM (#26465721)

    Why does everyone keep calling Obama's position as the Office of the President Elect? He doesn't have any power yet or anything, he's just the president elect... yeesh.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Neoprofin ( 871029 )
      He does actually have some power, unlike us mere mortals he's allowed to order "off the menu" at the White House, a privilege reserved for past, present, and future presidents.
    • by anothy ( 83176 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:55PM (#26469335) Homepage
      the term is not new. the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 establishes explicitly that the president-elect (and vice-president-elect) has an "office". you're correct that the office, like Obama himself right now, doesn't have any real power in government, but it is not a new creation. even the particular phrasing "Office of the President-Elect" can be found in 1992. we're just hearing so much more about it now because people are paying more attention to Obama than previous presidents-elect, and even former opponents say the transition is being run so well.
  • 5D != 5D Mark II (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jethro ( 14165 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @11:19AM (#26465881) Homepage

    The article states that the "5D" camera used for the photo has 12.8mp and costs $2K. This is true for the 5D, but the 5D Mark II has ~21MP and costs considerably more than $2K. If it cost $2K I'd get one!

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @11:30AM (#26466043) Homepage Journal

    The Office of the President Elect

    And what, the heck, is that?

    It isn't an official portrait, it's a picture of the guy who's gonna be president by his made-up official sounding transition team. The official portrait is taken of ACTUAL presidents, period.

  • Ceeeeeelebrate good Obama, come on!

    ..It's Obam-Obama!
  • by gsgriffin ( 1195771 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @11:40AM (#26466193)
    This is so boring, and I'm only wasting my time responding because I want to encourage people not to post stuff like this. Every President is historic. They all make it in the books. Most of you were applauding Bush after 9/11 and now most of you have changed. Some day, people will look back at Obama and yawn. There will be many more Presidents. Remember how excited many people were when the Republicans gain majorities in Congress? What came of that? You think Obama is our savour?

    Please don't create a post when Obama is the first Pres to use a specially recycled toilet paper made from a process that doesn't create any global warming gases or pollute our rivers and streams. I'll have to look elsewhere for my tech news...
  • indirect links (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:02PM (#26466557)

    Is anyone else sick of getting the links 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th hand?

    Here []'s the direct one for those interested.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken