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Take Your Best Shot, Courtesy CGX —Cagle

September 2009


GOOD DAY to you, kind readers. We have a bit of a magazine theme for this month's installment of news.

The first item shows how a dash of creativity and a pinch of technology can provide another financial outlet for those daring to be different. The publishers of National Geographic have teamed up with Consolidated Graphics (CGX) and its HP Indigo digital printing capabilities to put a personal touch on their storied magazine. Readers of the publication can order customizable photographic covers of a special collector's edition magazine called National Geographic Your Shot.

The collector's edition features the best photographs from the 150,000-plus images submitted by the public to the Your Shot online feature, where readers can submit their photography for possible publication in National Geographic magazine.

Picture buffs can order the collector's edition online with a cover that features their own high-resolution photographic image. CGX is using its HP Indigo digital presses to produce the covers, which are then bound to copies of the special edition magazine.

The National Geographic Your Shot collector's edition is the first special edition from National Geographic magazine devoted entirely to reader photography. The publication has cultivated an extensive Web-based group of photography lovers through both its three-year-old Your Shot online offering and the more recent My Shot, which was launched in 2008 as an active photography-based community where readers can upload their photos to take part in various interactive options, such as jigsaw puzzles.

The Your Shot collector's edition can be purchased at the National Geographic magazine Website at

HAMMER TIME: A cover for newspaper supplement West magazine painted by Ed Ruscha recently sold for more than $500,000 at Christie's Post War and Contemporary Art auction at Rockefeller Center in New York.

"West is the most expensive editorial or advertising ever sold as fine art," says designer Mike Salisbury, who commissioned the work. "Some Norman Rockwell pieces may go for more, but that would be the second, third or fourth time they were sold. And, considering fine art sells by the square inch and West is only 11x14˝, we did good."

Salisbury asked Ruscha to create the cover when he was working as the art director for West, a magazine supplement to the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times. The artwork culminated Ruscha's famed "Romance with Liquids" period, which was characterized by a series of works where the words appear to have been formed by spilling liquids onto the surface of the canvas.

Think that's a lot of money for a seemingly clever concept that could be copied? Ruscha's last fine art piece sold for $3 million. The liquid letters image may well turn out to be a shrewd investment.

SAY IT AIN'T SO, MAMA: The hands of time and technology keep on moving, whether we want them to or not. In mid-June, Kodak said goodbye to an institution in its film stock arsenal, retiring Kodachrome.

Singer/songwriter Paul Simon was too upset to comment.

Kodachrome's salad days were in the 1950s and 1960s, but sales of it dropped to a fraction of 1 percent of Kodak's total sales for still-picture films. According to a Kodak official, 70 percent of the company's business is now derived from digital products. Kodak still plans to produce film—it's offering seven new professional still films and several new motion picture films—but the type that Simon sang about in his 1973 song are no more.

"Makes you think all the world's a sunny Mama don't take my Kodachrome away," Simon wrote.

According to The Associated Press, only Dwayne's Photo, of Parsons, KS, still processes Kodachrome film. The lab has agreed to continue processing it through 2010. Store supplies of Kodakchrome will likely be exhausted this fall.

Kodachrome captured memorable moments in time during its 74-year history, but perhaps none more compelling than Abraham Zapruder's 8mm reel of President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963.

HOW MANY WATCHES IS THAT?: In 1945, Virginia Saunders began working as a typist (remember them?) for the FBI. A year later, Ms. Saunders changed federal jobs and joined the crew at the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

Bless her heart, Virginia's still working there!

This past spring, Saunders celebrated her 63rd year with the GPO, for which she has been responsible for the Congressional Serial Set since 1969. The publication is a casebound compilation of all House and Senate documents and reports for each session of Congress.

"Retirement has crossed my mind, but what else would I do? This is where my heart is," she says.

Perhaps the GPO could honor her decades of dedication by sending her on a cruise. Taxpayer dollars are squandered every day, but this would be money well spent.

Visit watch?v=X9iK4z1qKZ4&feature=channel_page to see a video tribute to Saunders' career. PI

—Erik Cagle


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