BitDepth 599 - October 23

PhotoPlus 2007 placed an emphasis on education, with exhibitors clearing valuable display space for mini-lecture halls and the crowds came to learn.
Learning at NY PhotoPlus Expo

The audience at Adobe's lecture space on the show floor at the PDN PhotoPlus Expo. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

If there was a theme to this year's PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, it wasn't the official theme of the Expo, "World in Focus," it was work in focus. Hundreds of photographers pulled out notebooks and sheets of paper as they focused their attention on dozens of large screen LCDs and massive projected images to learn.
PhotoPlus Expo is actually two events, an intensive series of seminars which cost between US$80 and $150 for a couple of hours of intense instruction and a massive show floor full of exhibitors who have geared their presentations to professional and wanna-be professional visitors.

The show started slow, the crowds that thronged the front entrance at last year's show were absent, and the crowds grew more slowly as the show got underway. The neatened floor plan of the exhibit floor pushed the smaller, generally more cluttered exhibitors to the back of the room, a space roughly the size of two football fields.
Up front were the large exhibitors, who placed a strong emphasis on learning, with small lecture halls carved out of their presentation space that attracted large crowds.

That sometimes led to confusing exhibit spaces which tended to have too much busywork around for folks who dropped by to learn something new and muddled access for potential customers trying to browse the wares on show.
RAW software competitors Adobe and Apple had no confusion about their reasons for being at the show. Their large exhibit spaces were built around lecture spaces, with demonstration areas shunted firmly to the side.

As I approached Apple's booth, a tall blonde in a tight black Apple branded T-shirt strode up to me and immediately struck up a conversation. It took a couple of minutes for me to realise that I was being polled on my software preferences and by the time I mustered my wits, my badge was being scanned and I had an invitation to attend one of the company's Aperture lectures.

The PhotoPlus organisers took a cue from this emphasis on show floor education to move their keynote events io a black-walled area at the rear right of the hall. If you didn't know where it was, you might have completely missed it.

It was there that I caught the tail end of the theme keynote, "Making a difference in photography."
Much of the presentation was the typical "weeping white man" stuff as talented photographers presented beautiful work with agonised purple prose. Typical of this dribble was Chris Rainier, described by a New Guinea bushman, according to one of his anecdotes, as coming from "where the green meets the blue." Rainier almost ruined a presentation of astonishing images with an unnecessary and emotional narration for pictures that spoke more eloquently than he could.

Far more intriguing was Greg Marshall of National Geographic who shared his work with the "critter cam," a small, sensor laden tube that is attached to mammals. The device records environmental data and more strikingly, video of dozens of creatures, ranging from lionesses to monk seals that provide an unprecedented record of what animals do when human's aren't around. 

With more than 500 deployments of the critter cams attached to 50 species, Marshall and his National Geographic team are on the way to answering those age-old questions about trees and bears in the woods.
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