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Sound Matters More Than Lighting in a Photo Shoot

Question: What is your working routine as a photographer?\r\n\r\n

Carol Friedman: My days are kind of controlled by\r\nmy projects, so sometimes they’re album covers.  Sometimes\r\n they’re commission portrait shoots.  Sometimes \r\nthey are editorial, so it kind\r\nof—I don’t dictate it.


Question: Why do you only shoot on film?


Carol Friedman: \r\nWell I guess\r\nI’m half traditionalist, half modern girl and I just never…  I love the digital world and I love\r\nelectronica and after I shoot everything is digital, but I just... I \r\ndon’t\r\nknow.  I love my cameras.  I\r\n love contact sheets.  I love the visceral thing \r\nof film and\r\nI’m not positive that I can replicate my lighting digitally.  My assistants tell me I can, but, just\r\nstubborn I guess.


Question: What equipment and materials do\r\n you like to use?


Carol Friedman: That is the least \r\ninteresting part of my\r\nwork.  I kind of—you learn it,  you\r\n master it, and then you make sure\r\nthat it just disappears.  You know,\r\nlike if I could have invisible lights, I would, and invisible cameras.  I’m just really trying to get at my\r\nsubject and I respect the technical aspect, but it is not anything that I\r\n think\r\nabout at this point.


Question: Why do you spend more time \r\npreparing the\r\nsoundtrack for a shoot than the lighting? 


Carol Friedman: For me there’s several \r\ncomponents to picture-taking and it starts with my goals as an artist.  It’s capturing I guess the inner life of my subject \r\nand then\r\nit is giving them their idealized version of themselves. \r\n We all look in the mirror and see us a\r\nlittle blonder or a little thinner or a little younger, whatever that \r\nideal\r\nmight be and most of the people that I’m photographing are selling \r\nsomething,\r\nyou know whether they’re on the front of an album cover or a magazine or\r\nthey’re a corporate person ready to switch companies or a doctor selling\r\n a\r\nskincare line... so I want to help them achieve that. And when I worked \r\nat Motown\r\nRecords the head of the label called it, you know, he’d say, “Diva, you \r\nneed to\r\nfix them.”  So he called it fixing\r\npeople and that is really the joy of what I do is really... not to fix \r\nthem, but\r\nto give them the them that they want to be visually and a big part of \r\nthat is…\r\nfor me is obviously making them comfortable, making sure that our… \r\nbecause it\r\nis a dance.  You know a photo session\r\nis really a dance and making sure that they’re comfortable and for me \r\nit’s the\r\nmusic, the music, the music.  That\r\nis everything.  So I do select a\r\nsoundtrack for each of my subjects and again my assistants you know they\r\n make\r\nfun of me because that is more important to me than the lighting, which I\r\n just\r\ndo in a minute right before, but I spend a long time on the soundtracks.


Question: What’s the most successful \r\npiece of music you’ve\r\nplayed during a shoot?


Carol Friedman: A lot of the people that I \r\nphotograph are\r\nmaster musicians themselves, whether they’re singers or great jazz \r\nplayers and\r\nit’s kind of fun to figure out who they came up with and who they \r\nemulated or\r\nwho they idolized actually. And that's just... it’s a wonderful way to \r\nget at who\r\nsomeone is through their own love of music and going right at their\r\nsubconsciousness if you will.  You\r\ndon’t play girl singers for girl singers. \r\nYou know, there’s certain things. \r\nYou do play Ellington for Bobby McFerrin. Sometimes like for \r\nTeddy\r\nPendergrass, Teddy has a whole lineage that came before his solo career \r\nwith\r\nHarold Melvin and the Blue Notes, so he has a signature song, “The Love I\r\nLost,” so I planned it.  I got him\r\nready.  There he was.  We \r\nput on “The Love I Lost” and the\r\nminute he heard that bass solo, boom, there was the album cover for \r\n“Joy,” and\r\nit really was joy, that is the title, because it was that visceral \r\nmemory for\r\nhim.  So sometimes it is an\r\noutright manipulation like that, but most of the time I’m just, I’m \r\ncreating a\r\nmood that is a place of comfort for the person and a way for our \r\ndialogue to be\r\nmore fluid.

Recorded on April 21, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Why the veteran photographer arranges the lights just minutes before a shoot, yet agonizes over the music she plays for each subject.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.