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Steelpan, Technology,
the 2009 PhotoPlus Expo
- and You

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Handling the quick and ever-changing developments in technology

Time and money are two things that most people find in very short supply. So it is not surprising, that the challenge of keeping up with the new and ever-evolving technological developments that continue to have a profound impact on our lives - in even the simplest of tasks - can be daunting, cost-prohibitive and intimidating. However, the consequences of not being up on these changes - whether for financial dealings, social networking, professional interests, work, family, personal or pleasure pursuits - can have serious consequences.

So - how do we get ourselves up-to-speed without spending a lot of money (by, for example - perhaps paying for a course to gain insight into equipment, to find out if it may, or may not be for you), and time?

One clear and direct way to decipher the “noise”, peruse an abundance of choices and acquire the introductory/ working knowledge necessary to make informed choices on potential usages and purchases - is to attend a trade show where you have access to information, see actual products, attend demonstrations, try out equipment and interact with experts there at your beckoning. Furthermore, trade shows can quickly and inexpensively provide the medium to discern what we know, what we want to know, what we think we know and what we absolutely should know - and what the hell we didn’t!

The advantages of attending a trade show or expo
  • Meet key people at all levels in the industry you are seeking knowledge in
  • You are exposed to people who have real working knowledge of the products and technology you seek
  • You get to compare competing products
  • Sit in on seminars and workshops that highlight capabilities of products - many are free
  • Shows are spread over a few days so you have a chance to follow up with presenters
    Meet many people who have, or had questions, concerns and interests similar to your own.

So at a trade show, you can arrive in the morning knowing little or nothing; by noon you will know something - and by the time you leave, you can know a lot. All of which put you on the path to acquiring knowledge -- and the wherewithal to ask the proper questions to gain more knowledge. And some trade shows even waive registration fees if you pre-register online, or have a promotion code.

There are thousands of people with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds at the three-day Photo Expo held in New York at the Jacob Javits Center.

Tomorrow - a closer look at the photo expo, and handling the choices offered by new and constantly-developing photo technology.

New York, USA - When Steel Talks (WST) is among the press corps at the PDN International Conference and PhotoPlus Expo, Jacob Javits Center, New York.  We are here to mingle with manufacturers, observe, question and explore their philosophies and their new digital imaging products and accessories that have, and will continue to have, such a great impact on our story - the story of the global steelpan culture, art form and community.

Press corps at work for the PhotoPlus Expo

Indeed, the tens of thousands of people who are part of our global WST network on Facebook, Ning, PanOnTheNet and more, have come to expect - in addition to full articles - high quality images, photos that tell a story about the art form, its practitioners/ musicians and fans.

We, When Steel Talks, are now equally as famed for our steelpan photography, as we are known globally for state-of-the-art recordings, video, audio production and news coverage.  Photos bring text to life - just as the key to a superior video is superior audio.  Without those great, eagerly-anticipated images from our WST pan-photographers our articles would be - well - simply a grouping of characters on a screen enrapturing readers, but still leaving much to their imagination - and awaiting that final touch - photographs - to be truly brought to life.

Have you noticed that hardly anyone says “cheese” any more to the subjects in a photo - especially a group picture? This year as When Steel Talks traveled to festivals and panyards of the world, and went out on our annual pan yard recordings, the WST pan photographers now called out for the “Facebook” smile, or pose - and all enthusiastically complied. “Facebook it, Tweet it, Photoshop it” are now part of the permanent entries into the global lexicon and consciousness of man.  And an integral component of them, is digital photo technology.

So what caught our eye on the first day? 

With scores of booths and cordial reps vying for attention, there were of course those that made us do a double-take, and investigate further.  From cameras, camcorders, photo printers, to storage media, media colleges, software, related digital imaging services, accessories and more - there was much to investigate.

Olympus Imaging America was a favorite, with WST taking special interest in the E-620, one of their latest DSLRs, while still noting their 2007 flagship E-3 which debuted in October of that year, the E-30 and of course the attention-grabbing Olympus Pen - E-P1.  Skilled, well-informed and extremely accessible Tech rep Nathan Ross entertained practically every one of WST’s queries.

Nathan Ross with Olympus E-3

A quick trek through the aisles allowed WST to zoom in on innovative accessories that are well suited to the photog shooting on the move (like WST’s pan photogs).  Both Trek-Tech and SteadePod got a second look with their versatility and flexibility in adjusting to space and support challenges - bringing their unique brand of stabilization to the fore.  The former offers an intriguing monopod/tripod (and hiking staff) combo available with sturdy MagMount ball heads.  For the extreme minimalist, the SteadePod delivers steadying by maintaining tension on a lightweight cable attached to a still or video camera, while anchored by a footpad.

Trek-Tech monopod products


Edward Fasano (l) and Mark Suban

Nikon is always on the cutting edge of technological development, and has one of the largest representations at the 2009 PhotoPlus Expo.  Edward Fasano, General Manager, Marketing, SLR System Products, and Nikon tech rep Mark Suban were but two of the many Nikon personnel on hand interacting with event attendees.  The extensive array of Nikon digital imaging products and accessories on display included recently-unveiled DSLRs Nikon D5000, D3000, D300S and the D3S.  WST was pleased to interact face-to-face with Fasano, a key figure on the digital media scene - and explore a bit more in-depth, the perspective behind the designs of a couple of their more recent product lines.

Spider camera holster

An accessory that would be considered handy by some merited the attention of folks eager for an opportunity to experience for themselves quick access to cameras - the Spider Camera Holster.  Strapped around the waist, cameras with lenses attached ride securely on hip, but rapidly detach, and are almost as quickly replaced - from hip to hands in a flash, according to the company.

With the ability to capture higher resolution images on the upswing, the storage media is well in step with space required; SanDisk and Lexar sporting high-capacity drives, along with the likes of LaCie, Western Digital and more, were definite considerations.  Lens connoisseurs were not left out, with specialist representatives showcasing both high-end and econo mode product lines.

Dina of Metal Mural

These days, displaying your digital moments can take several forms. WST visualized one in particular - Metal Mural - as an opportunity that many ‘pan parents’ might like - highlighting the picture of their child in action on the steelpan instrument, on a glossy metal tile.  Reproduced on a single tile about twelve inches square which could be placed anywhere,  for those so inclined, an entire mural of a much larger size consisting of several tiles could be put together.  Which young steelpan musician would not be captivated by a fairly large likeness of themselves caught up in the musical moment - on a wall area?

Scott Heath and PDN’s Lauren Wendle

For an event of this magnitude to come together, several actors come into play, not least of all the public relations firm - for this event, veterans in the communications field, PR-Synergy, and event organizer PDN (Photo District News) represented by Vice President/Publisher Lauren Wendle.  In chatting with Scott Heath of PR-Synergy, WST learned that it is the first trade show for his company.  Scott and his team are in the process of pulling off what has been a highly-anticipated and hotly-attended event on the annual trade show calendar.  For Scott, representing and promoting the 2009 PDN International Conference and PhotoPlus Expo at Jacob Javits is close to his heart as PR-Synergy represents several movers and shakers in the digital imaging world - and beyond - and proudly counts a ten-year relationship with digital imaging giant Canon in its roster of clients; it is obvious why the fit is like hand-in-glove for Executive VP Scott, PR-Synergy President Lou Desiderio (pictured right, assisting press personnel), and associates.  Up and on his feet most of the time ensuring that things rolled according to plan, it was in the midst of it all that WST was able to share a few words with both Scott and Lauren Wendle.  Lou himself moved around unassumingly, interacting with those present and tending personally to even the simplest of tasks - such as facilitating wireless access for users, and more.

Why is When Steel Talks here?  

As the thousands of you who navigate the When Steel Talks (WST) website and social networks everyday already know - no longer is anything truly ‘local,’ and neither is anything truly ‘global.’  The internet, Facebook, Ning, Twitter and YouTube among others, have redefined those borders forever.  And thousands of you (in numerous languages and places from all over the globe) greet each other in some facsimile of “Good morning, Facebook people,” everyday on the WST profile, fan page or group - and you are keenly aware that quality digital photographs are critical to the story of Pan on the internet - in fact they form an indispensable component to the global music community and art form.  Because of that importance we take the When Steel Talks global network to the PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York.  This is part of our ongoing thrust to introduce new technologies that directly impact the steelpan music community.

It was way back in 1998 when German imaging company AGFA - probably more through the curiosity of what we would do with product, more than anything else - dispatched two pioneering digital cameras - an ePhoto 1280 and ePhoto 780, along with an AGFA scanner for our evaluation and promotion.  Of course they got much, much more than they ever expected - as the pictorials and subject matter we presented with the cameras were like nothing they had seen before.  Simply put, our photos stole the show at that year’s Photo Expo.  But more importantly, having access to that technology at that early stage allowed us to apply it to the documentation and capturing of the life of steelpan music enthusiasts, the culture, art form and global community in a way that still reverberates today. 

It was literally history in the making, both for AGFA and the global steelband community, with the flexibility gained in documenting images of pan.  With this captivating new digital photo format, we now thought and operated in the digital frame of mind at a very early  stage in the game.  It was this atmosphere which led a then-fledgling Adobe company to contact our organization, beginning what would turn into several years of a mutually beneficial partnership.  Many other leading manufacturers of multimedia digital technology would almost immediately follow.

Technology, especially digital technology, has permeated every aspect of our existence in ways both known and unknown. The most basic functions of our lives are now inextricably impacted, connected and influenced by some form of digital technology.  And of course, of those entities impacted - not least of them is the world of “photography” - its culture, the education, history and moreover, the science of photography and its dynamics.

Let us face it - with the explosive development of social networks and other online digital delivery systems, the art and/or business of photography and passion of capturing images, have taken on a whole new perspective and place in our lives. Our expectations and understanding of our physical environment and social conditions have changed dramatically.  No self-respecting organization can honestly say, that they are ready for prime time if they do not have a documented photo image - or film - archive of their activities (do you really exist if you do not have such?), or lack the ability to procure same.  And Photography is a critical aspect of that documentary portfolio.

Digital photography has changed who we are, and moreover how we and others see ourselves.  Photography captures the moment and history almost simultaneously of an event and/or condition.  Digital photography and its support systems remarkably allow a picture to be a sentence, paragraph, chapter or volume of an occurrence.  And for assignments like capturing, documenting and re-telling the rich and colorful history and present day activities of the steelpan instrument - this technology is incalculable in pictorial storytelling.

The PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York runs through Saturday 24 October.

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