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Archive for July, 2013

Of Pelicans and Pixels; Pots and Pans

July 11th, 2013 No Comments

Pelican: The Shape of Things to Come?

If you’re up-to-date on camera technology you’ll have heard of the Lytro, a camera which captures reflected rays from different angles of incidence to construct an image whose focus-point can be controlled and adjusted after the fact.

Now Pelican is barging in on Lytro (which has been featured on our sister blog) territory and going one better: you can choose multiple focus-points which can be at different planes in the image.  As Leo Kelion describes it in Computational photography on BBC, “a photographer in New York could choose to make the details of her husband’s face and the Statue of Liberty behind him sharp but everything else – including the objects in between them – blurred.”

Kelion’s interesting article is not solely about Pelican but is about the shape of things to come in ‘computational photography.’  With this in mind, Pelican’s technology too is not a mature, market-ready product.

Another leg-up that Pelican has over Lytro is that it is a technology that is small enough to be housed in a mobile phone.  No wonder, then, that Nokia has invested in it.

Nokia’s Gazillion-Pixel Play

Image representing Nokia as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Talking about Nokia, let’s talk about Nokia.  Their spanking new Lumia 1020 has 41 megapixels!  We stay with Kelion on BBC for this roundup.  

Though sheer number of megapixels is not the main driving force when consumers choose a mobile phone, this statistic will draw attention to Nokia, which should have a spillover effect to its other products – that’s the idea behind this handset with the ‘Are you kidding?’ stat.

All those megapixels aren’t only a ploy, mind you: where image quality is concerned Kelion says that analysts are nearly unanimous that the Lumia 1020 is on top of the mobile phone pile.  The camera – oops, mobile phone! – also offers Full HD video and an optical image stabilizer.

Kelion writes that this handset carries “a premium price” and perhaps it does, but where else can you get all that high-high-res plus a few optical-camera goodies thrown in and a bona fide smartphone at that price?  Over to you, Apple.

Last Word

You may have heard this one before but last word to neilwinch: “A photographer went to a dinner party where he showed many of his photographs. The lady of the house said, ‘Those are very nice pictures, you must have a great camera.’ He said nothing, but when leaving for home offered the following compliment to the lady of the house: ‘The meal was very nice, you must have great pots and pans.'”


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A Nice Pairing: FinePix S8400W and jAlbum 11

July 8th, 2013 No Comments

Fujifilm’s FinePix S8400W has got the once-over by Daniel Bell on ePHOTOzine.  

This is classed as a ‘bridge camera’ – or should it be called a ‘hybrid camera’?  As far as appearance goes, it certainly looks like something cobbled together.   For a camera so light and small, the DSLR-style pronounced, protruding grip stands out as does the flash housing on the plate.

Bell’s review is nothing if not honest; you don’t often read sentences like this one: “At ISO 6400 and 12800 image quality is dreadful, these two settings are best avoided.”  At the same time, because it’s so strikingly honest, we can take him at his word when he says, “The EVF is very bright and makes shooting easier in low light, in bright light when outdoors and when using the zoom” and “Good value for money.” 

The lens goes from 24mm up to 1056mm (35mm equivalent), but what’s especially eye-catching is this spec: f/2.9 to f/6.5.  This f-stop range compares favourably with other superzooms and other inexpensive cameras.

The best thing about this 16.2 MP camera is that it’s chock-full of features, all available at a wallet-friendly price.  Importantly, it also has WiFi plus USB and HDMI slots.  The whole package is just right for that young ’un who wants to get a ‘real camera’.  

Bell says about the FinePix S8400W that “image quality isn’t the best, but it’s not bad, particularly if you tend to share on the web.”  How about sharing using jAlbum 11, then?

Image representing Jalbum as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

jAlbum is an album/gallery app that’s been around for a while.  It’s free but comes with a ‘Pro’ option.  The highlight feature of Version 11, just out, is seen by Softpedia as “converts over 160 video formats suitable for the web (mp4).”

Photographers, however, would be interested in the app’s utility for pictures and here it doesn’t disappoint.  Novice or amateur photographers who’re interested in a fast, inexpensive, no-fuss way of creating albums/galleries may want to take a look at this app.

The just-issued press release, available on Shutterbug, explains that all you need do is drag-drop your entire folder (or any selection of images) and jAlbum will do the rest.  Feel free to add skins (themes) and customize as you go along!

It also has some features that would be attractive to aspiring pros: batch watermarking and integration with downstream service providers.

In an age when your sole rights to your own images seem to be questioned and infringed at every digital stop, perhaps jAlbum 11’s biggest selling point is its declaration: “jAlbum does not claim any rights to your images, and never will.”


Get Bedazzled with Michael Semaan

July 3rd, 2013 No Comments

We’ll close out the week with a grab-bag of mixed news with something or another that’s sure to please everyone – you

Back, Back to the Past

If you’re interested in vintage photos, antique photos, then take a gander at this image of miners relaxing and posing inside a mine shaft.

It’s one of a stash of 40-plus photos that are well over a century old, all of South African miners, that were discovered in a house’s wine-cellar!  Read about it on Amateur Photographer.

An Unusual How-To

Keith Cooper at NorthLight had published an excellent article that shows you how to extend your approach alongwith a set of pointers.  It had flown under the radar back in October.

For example, this unusual how-to points out not only the value of sharpening but tells you just what to sharpen and when (the driving factors).  He also explains how merely looking at (and subconsciously studying) lots and lots of photographs will make you a better photographer.  This article has one or two more hints that are uncommon.

It’s an ideal read for amateurs who’re wanting to take that step up to the ‘serious amateur’ category.    

Get Bedazzled

If you’re an amateur who’s toying with the thought of going pro, this blog post on the Leica Blog is just for you.  After all, he says, “though I’ve been doing photography on the side since I was 14. At the age of 38, I decided to focus 100% of my time and efforts on my photography and make it my career as well as my passion . . .”

This post is also for anyone who like good old-fashioned luscious pictures—

Vivid, saturated, ‘colourbursting’ landscapes are Michael Semaan’s calling cards (good job Leica, we need more of these!)  Semaan’s secret?  Here it is from the horse’s mouth: “Indeed, light itself can often be your subject.”

He uses light in several different ways, witness this image of a seashore (whose composition breaks the ‘rules’ to super effect).  Also, this photograph somehow makes one think ‘Zen’ . . . and notice the lines in the foreground . . . coincidence?

You can study and learn from Semaan’s style, which is for the most part extroverted and joyous, or just ‘bathe’ in the beauty of his vision


Richard Heeps, Sun Times’s ‘Dark Times’, and Sly Samsungites

July 2nd, 2013 No Comments

Richard Heeps and “Man’s Ruin”

“Man’s Ruin” is the rather strange name of Richard Heeps’s photo book and ongoing exhibition in London which pay homage to a near-vanished America of the 50s.  

PhotographyBlog reports that Heeps used manual film cameras (including the now-legendary FM2) and “rare, end-of-line films.”  Be that as it may, it’s the photographs that deserve a look and they’re all available on Heeps’s website!

You can see a youthful jiving bobby-soxer complete with saddle shoes and lace petticoat and a dolled-up roadster, both right out of the 50s.

Heeps also does Americana and here’s a fine contradiction: a young woman with ‘bad girl’ and ‘girly girl’ style and accoutrements!  Americana has always meant souping up your battered old wreck.

This big gallery is both nostalgic, eye-opening, and loads of fun with its many off-the-cuff shots.

Keeping an Eye on the Chicago Sun-Times

About one month back we had blogged about the mass sacking of the entire photography staff of the Chicago Sun-Times as a cost-cutting measure.  In The Expendables, the Threatened Species, the *Pro Photogs!*, we had opined that the Sun-Times “is no longer ‘shooting’ for quality photography; it’s content with sufficient photography; good-enough images.”

That’s exactly what it looks like gauging from a Tumblr blog that DPReview mentioned a few days back.  Sun Times / Dark Times takes it upon itself to show the front page of the Sun-Times every day, juxtaposing it with that of its fellow Chicago newspaper, the Tribune.

It doesn’t look all bad for the Sun-Times but many of their photographs are distinctly ‘amateurish’, flat, and lacking a locus of interest.  Overall it’s clearly shown up by the photographic quality of the Tribune.

Samsung’s Fake DSLR

The difference between the respective image qualities of DSLRs and compacts is one of psychology and not rooted in reality – at least that is what Samsung would have us believe by way of its guerrilla street test which resulted in a commercial.

Tim Barribeau reports on Imaging Resource that some sly Samsungites asked random passers-by to tell them whether they preferred a photo from one of their NX300s or a ‘pro’ DSLR.  What they didn’t say was that the ‘pro’ DSLR was another NX300 all dressed up to look like a DSLR.

Most persons preferred the images of the faux DSLR.  But – as Barribeau points out – the ad is a “final cut.”  How many people told the Samsungites “They’re both the same” or “There’s no difference!”?

Samsung ain’t picking up the phone . . . .


Francesca Balaguer-Mercado’s Photographs and Other News

July 1st, 2013 No Comments

The week gets underway with our weekly three-pack on whimsical and offbeat news.

Abstract Art in Soap Bubbles

For the ultimate in Abstract Art by way of Photography, look no further than soap bubbles in your wash.  Actually, creating the Abstract Art may be another matter entirely, for you’ll need specialized skills as well as specialized gear.

You need high-speed flashes and reflective panels and a whole lot of experience to capture a bubble at the precise nano-second that it’s bursting.  However, the charm and attraction of this gallery are in the vivid, saturated hues and arresting globular designs on display.

Read Michael Zhang’s write-up on photographer Fabian Oefner’s newest obsession on PetaPixel.

Exotic Animals on Gurneys

Exotic Animals Far from Home by Jordan G. Teicher features the photographs of Linda Kuo.  This is a gallery that will appeal to animal lovers and those interested in veterinary sciences because they document a veterinary hospital for exotic animals.

The value of these photographs is in their straightforward portrayals of (exotic) small animals and birds in a hospital setting, far removed from their natural habitat.  This leads to two outcomes.  First, the focus is squarely on the bird or animal and nothing else.  Second, it seems to lend a vulnerable and frightened air to the subject, which would exude no such air in its native habitat, especially when it is at the mercy of some human.

Women in Intriguing Situations

Upon reading Peter Imbong’s intro, in which he talks about breaking stereotypes and “women in traditional roles gone bad,” for Anti-stereotypes in ‘Blame it on the Heat’ you may prep yourself to view something edgy, dark, disturbing.  What a surprise, then, to run into images that are colourful, pleasing, and even gorgeous.

The article is about an exhibition of photographs by Francesca Balaguer-Mercado in which women are posed in non-traditional situations to break supposed stereotypes.

However, the photography of a hostess serving up a handgun, ostensibly to unwelcome guests, is simultaneously fashionable, sexy and humourous!  Which housewife, at some point or another, hasn’t wanted to take a gun to uninvited guests who just won’t leave?

How about a young lass who, harried by old-fashioned telephones all over the place, has broken out in spots?  And against a Roy Lichtenstein-type of colour-explosion background!  Nothing iconoclastic or ‘bad girl’ here; indeed, gals going bananas with phones is actually a classic stereotype! 

Balaguer-Mercado’s photographs have amazing breadth and variety.  You’ll find an atmospheric image of a ‘bad girl’ in some dive reminiscent of film noir (a wonderful contrast to the ‘Lichtenstein Girl’) while a gorgeous, pastel-tints image of an East Asian beauty with a parasol is reminiscent of Japanese camera-makers’ ad campaigns from back in the 1980s!

Compliments to VASK Gallery in Bonifacio Global City for giving this very talented photographer a solo exhibition.


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