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Archive for August, 2013

Gear Special: Flash! Flash! Flash!

August 30th, 2013 No Comments

We have the most unusual of gear posts today; we take in three posts about three flash kits.  The makers are Lowel, Nissin and Pentax, and we make stops on pdn online, Shutterbug, and Digital SLR Photo.

Okay, the Lowel unit is not a flash per se; it’s an LED spotlight.  Jesse Will on pdn online has the goods on the Lowel GL-1.

This unit has enormous selling points.  It is lightweight, hand-held and battery-operated.  Add to that a focussing ring to adjust the coverage angle and a dimmer to control the intensity, and one has an extremely powerful lighting solution for many outdoor needs.

You can use it as a spot, fill, or deploy it with an umberella.  Apart from its versatility, other positives, according to Will, are ergonomic design and long battery life.

Next up is the Nissin MF18.  And – uh-oh – this one isn’t a proper flashlight either!  As Jack Neubart explains on Shutterbug, it is a specialized unit: a ringlight for macro work.  This unit is meant for Canon and Nikon’s TTL systems.

Neubart explains the technical construction and function of this ringlight, going into details about its LEDs, flash tubes, etc.  The specs that are most interesting are that several adapter rings are included and that in TTL mode, output intensity is adjustable from 1:8 through 1:1 to 8:1 (the ringlight has independently-controlled halves).  This point is illustrated with close-ups of a miniature rose.

This ringlight has other strong points which Neubart enthuses about, for instance, its display is highly “readable” and overall operability is “simple and straightforward.”

Finally, we get to an honest-to-goodness flash unit – two of them!

Ricoh’s new Pentax AF540FGZ II and AF360FGZ II boast a host of enviable features from what may be seen on the full press release on Digital SLR Photo.  As reflected in the model numbers, these units’ guide numbers at ISO 100 are 54 and 36 respectively.

These speedlites’ main claim to fame is ruggedness – ‘neither rain nor snow.’  Their 28-point sealing ensures that they are highly weather-resistant.

They possess a handy-dandy up-to-date feature: a fixed-light LED.  This combines with the now-ubiquitous Video Mode on cameras to give an assist in low-light situations.  On top of that this LED also has a few other uses.

These speedlites have customizable presets and four kinds of flash controls from TTL to manual.  Add to that adjustable coverage angles, vertical and horizontal bounce flash, and more, and the sum amounts to superlative products from Pentax.

 

Runaway Bridal Shoot and Other Tales of Mystery

August 28th, 2013 No Comments

Our weekly roundup of weird, strange and ‘surreal’ news from the realms of photography is kicked off today by an article with the word ‘surreal’ in its title—

Bleak and Surreal

That’s what DPReview calls the photographs of Mishka Henner, and they’re on the mark.  His ‘Feedlots’ project is photographic abstract art.  Henner did not photograph the images but composed or ‘stitched’ them from discrete elements from numerous satellite images. 

Henner’s composite images possess their own aesthetic, specially in terms of balance and tonal range.  However, they are so ambiguous that each viewer will (almost necessarily) impart his/her own interpretation to them – and that’s where the fun begins.

Rotten and Wrong

Someone else who ‘borrowed’ an image and manipulated it is one ‘bogdhan’ but this matter is absolutely unambiguous.  He lifted an atmospheric photograph by Hengki Koentjoro, did some Photoshopping on it, and submitted it to Samsung Camera’s photo contest – and won it!

Heikerost has the lowdown on Image and View.  The good news is that the cheat was disqualified and lambasted, Koentjoro’s authorship was recognized, and Samsung apologized.

The ‘strange’ part of this saga is that the thief expressed outrage and launched a counterattack on Instagram against his critics, calling them names and defending his misconduct.  Evidently, he doesn’t ‘get it.’

Oh, well.  Billy the Kid and Al Capone didn’t ‘get it’ either.

Lost and Found

You’ve heard of Runaway Bride.  Now here’s the ‘Runaway Bridal Shoot.’  The director of this ten terabyte epic is Chad Koerber and it’s brought to you by ‘Urbane Wedding Company’ Studio. 

Briefly, Urbane, Koerber, and crew shot countless dozens of weddings, at least 170.  Then, one fine day, they got caught in the Bermuda Triangle, retreated to an ashram high in the Himalayas – no-one knows what happened exactly; however, they were never heard of again, to the hysterical horror of several wedding-video-less wives.  

Nothing to cry about though; this Made-in-Hollywood script also has a Hollywood-like happy ending:– Cue a couple of knights in shining armour who arose out of the Mists of Avalon, carrying ten terabytes on three hard drives, chock-full of presumed-lost wedding videos!  As Don King would say, “Only in America!”

DL Cade has a review of ‘Runaway Bridal Shoot’ on Petapixel.

Hungry for more wacky news?  Allow Popular Photography to be your knight in shining armour.

Galleries: Stillness and Quietude; and Action and Movement

August 27th, 2013 No Comments
Leica compact cameras

Leica compact cameras (Photo credit: Nickolas Titkov)

Today we take a look at very ‘contrasty’ online galleries, two that are mostly action and movement; the other ‘composed’ of stillness and quietude – because it’s underwater!

Located in  in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cenote Angelita is an ‘underwater river.’  As oxymoronic and bizarre as that may sound, apparently there is such a thing.  DL Cade on PetaPixel has the explanation as to what an ‘underwater river’ is and how it comes about.  More pertinent to this blog, he also introduces the amazing photographs of Anatoly Beloshchin.

They’re among the weirdest yet coolest photos you’ll ever see because, though “You see banks, trees, mud and leaves strewn about in the same way you would at a normal river you might see flowing through the forest,” the photographs are clearly taken underwater – it’s a river beneath a river!

One or two of the photos are ‘positively’ unearthly – after all, you don’t expect to swim in scuba gear above what is clearly a river, do you?

Petapixel’s webpage also provides a short video of Beloshchin’s amazing excursion.

If your taste runs toward action and movement, head over to the Leica Blog and take your pick: Tobin Yelland’s photographs of skateboarders with an interview by Mark Whiteley or Robin Sinha’s photographs of Muay Thai Fighters accompanied by an interview.  Which do you like – the movement of a punch or the motion of a skateboarder?

Initial looks may deceive, however.  These two mini-galleries have something in common in that they capture and convey the essence of their subjects in private, personal moments: as carefree skateboarders and focussed practitioners.

 Both mini-galleries also take in what is part and parcel of their respective subjects’ surroundings and ways of life: would you believe that a skateboarder can get bloodied like a Muay Thai fighter?  And that in Thailand, the King is omnipresent and watches from everywhere, including from even above arena entrances?

As such, both mini-galleries are comprised of documentary images that would be of special interest to those who’re interested in skateboarding or martial arts.

 

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Manufacturing Controversies in Pom-PomLand

August 21st, 2013 No Comments

Well, whaddaya know but a few persons Down Under have managed to cause a Photography Controversy in Pom-PomLand!

We almost always post a ‘Controversy of the Week’ on our professional and trade sister site but this is a light-hearted, mmph! type of controversy that is, perhaps, better suited to our retail site.

Surely it is common knowledge that animals too have, er, ‘private parts.’  Tourism Australia – not very smartly, it must be said – posted a picture on its Facebook page of a kangaroo in a reclining posture with his private parts pixelated.  The smart thing to do would have been to use another picture altogether but someone at Tourism Australia is evidently enamoured of the look pioneered and popularized by American news channels.

Next thing we know, this misjudgement blows up into a controversy – and who blew it up and where?  Why, those chaps Australia is playing the Ashes against in Pom-PomLand!

Daily Mail cried, “Australian Tourism staff cause outrage after posting censored picture of kangaroo.”  The Mirror cried, “Kangaroo Facebook picture sparks censorship outrage after Tourism Australia pixelates out animal’s genitals.”  Yahoo News UK cried, “Australia tourism bosses cause outrage by censoring ‘full frontal’ kangaroo Facebook pic.”  (Emphases added.)  

‘Outrage’?  ‘Censored’?  Note that all three media sources use these words.  Shouldn’t responsible media be talking about ‘outrage’ at ‘censorship’ of free speech in almost every country of the world, as speech limitations accrete and accrete and free speech rights erode and erode?

There was and is nothing controversial about the photo, there’s no ‘censorship’ and no ‘outrage’ – Pom-PomLand’s media have misrepresented jokey and mischievous comments, plus some put-downs, on the Facebook page as ‘outrage’ and pixelation as ‘censorship.’  This is actually an interesting example of how a perfectly non-controversial but ill-judged image can be blown up into a controversy by those who want it to become one – this is a manufactured, fabricated, controversy.

A good theory is that they’re just wanting to rub Aussie noses in it after the ongoing debacle in the Ashes.  It’s a hundred-to-one they wouldn’t be acting this way if Lillee and Thommo had still been around . . . they’d have had other things on their collective mind.

 

Amazing and Tweet-worthy Photo News!

August 20th, 2013 No Comments

Yesterday we had blogged about World Photography Day.  In our weekly roundup of Interesting and Unusual Photography News, we’ll see how a group of Visual Arts students from an Indian college marked this day.

First, though, how about an amazing gallery of Amazing Animals” brought to us by The Vancouver Sun.  The reason this is (really) ‘amazing’ is that all this wildlife has been shot in a city park!   

This 20-plus image gallery actually also has ‘amazing’ photographs: check out this tweet-worthy photograph of a bird apparently feeding its young.  Things get ‘amazing’ in another way too: what on earth is this?  

This gallery will bring inspiration to any citified photographer who can’t find any wildlife to shoot.

Only last week we had alerted you to a photograph of a rare natural phenomenon: a waterspout and rainbow together.  As strange as it may be, another photographer repeated the act.  Maciej Winiarczyk, shooting in Scotland, captured a photo of the Aurora Borealis together with noctilucent clouds which are “somewhere between 47 and 53 miles high in the mesosphere, they are composed entirely of ice crystals and can only be seen between certain latitudes during twilight.”

You can see – make that you must see – the gorgeous photograph with otherworldly hues on PetaPixel (via Astronomy Picture of the Day) alongwith a time-lapse of the seldom-seen sight.  Tweet-worthy encore!

Anyone who likes the British Royals and Baby Pictures is up for a double treat, for a few hours back The Daily Mail published a picture story by Rebecca English entitled How portraits of royal babies have changed through the generations.

This delightful feature takes us from Sir Cecil Beaton’s artistic portrait study of Queen Elizabeth with infant Prince Charles in 1948 to casual snapshots of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) with infant Prince George (and a lovely black spaniel) taken mere days back.  

In between 1948 and 2013, photos of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in their pomp and glory with baby Prince William are also on display.

This picture story brings to the fore changing social attitudes, as reflected in the baby photos, even in Great Britain’s royal family.

What, then, did those Indian college students get up to yesterday?  Well, even as they documented slum conditions for posterity, they brought smiles on the faces of the slum-dwellers.  

Amutha Kannan, writing in The Hindu, has the story.  About 40 students from Hindusthan College of Arts and Science decided to celebrate World Photography Day by giving slum-dwellers something to celebrate: the rare pleasure of having their picture taken – and given to them!  The students took a printer with them and handed out free 6x4s to their happy subjects.

A Special Gadget Wrap

August 19th, 2013 No Comments

Camera

Panasonic just keeps impressing and impressing either with sheer quality or with breakthroughs, and where the new Lumix DMC-FZ72 is concerned, it’s the latter.  You see, it has a 20-1200mm (35mm equivalent) zoom!  At 60x, Photography Blog says it’s “currently the longest in the industry.” With this kind of focal-length range, its aperture of F2.8 – 8.0 (W), F5.9 – 8.0 (T) shouldn’t be too surprising.

This bridge camera is a tad bigger than most and though the reviewer, Matt Grayson, says “it looks quite futuristic,” it’s not like anything out The Jetsons or Minority Report; however, it is “chunkier” than the norm with a really protruding grip.

The proof of the pudding is in the images and here the DMC-FZ72 more than holds its own.  Images at sub-400 ISOs are excellent and those between ISO 400-800 are perfectly good for online viewing.

Not a great value for money, this camera claims near-top ratings in ‘Features’ and ‘Ease-of-Use.’  A good choice, perhaps, for a bird watcher who’s new to photography?

Lenses

Sometime back this month Shutterbug published quite a long article on lenes – over a dozen of them.  Actually this article is a preview of new lenses that have just made or will make their debut this year.  Jack Neubart covers all the major brands and every possible focal length from a 180-degree fisheye from Yasuhara Madoka to specialized lenses for astrophotography from Celestron, taking in exotica like a Rokinon Tilt-Shift lens along the way.

Most photogs will be interested in (relatively) prosaic offerings from Canon, Nikon, Tokina, and the usual suspects.

One of the highlights is Nikon’s “longest fixed focal length, FX-format AF-S lens,” an 800mm (F 5.6) monster with a teleconverter that brings the focal length up to 1000mm.  The price tag is a monster that matches the lens!  ‘Just folks’ photogs may be more interested in the Tamron and Sigma lenses with ‘just folks’ focal lengths and prices to match.

Gadget

iPhone camera-lovers may have a MasterCard in their wallets but what they really want is another type of charge card: the punningly-named ‘ChargeCard.’

PhotoJojo explains, with the aid of a GIF, that this is actually a USB mobile-phone-charging cable that has the size and dimensions of a charge card.  The engagingly-written product page provides more details about this clever product which will ensure that you’re never stranded for juice if you’re near any USB outlet.

 

Photojournalism: ‘Sincere Art’ and Roiling Egypt

August 16th, 2013 No Comments

Destination Egypt

These days, Egypt is the place to be for any aspiring photojournalist, Urban Photographer, or Combat-Zone aspirant.  American Photo has published a gallery of images of civil disturbances in Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

Right from the word ‘go’ it is clear that a great photojournalistic image must also needs be a great photo.  Luck or skill, the very first photo is well composed, catches the right moment, and tells a story.  The photographer is safe and sound in a tall building yet that angle of elevation lends a detached, in a sense impartial, perspective.

Let alone capturing the right moment, here’s a photo that captures the moment . . . the moment a vehicle is falling off a bridge.

Here’s a particularly alarming photo as it seems that the men are throwing stones at you, the viewer.

The gallery is actually a comparative photo-story, giving a ‘Then-and-Now’ account of Egypt’s experiment with Parliamentary Democracy and elections.  As such, you can view some fine photojournalistic images from two years ago, such as this one of revolutionary fervour.

Credit: Checco

Talk about photojournalism, that’s one of Luciano Checco’s specialities as we see on the Leica Blog.  Given what Checco says about his photographic background and how his first exhibition came about, it’s evident that he is both humble and a natural talent.

And we do mean ‘talent’: having the ‘eye’ and the talent to take so extremely tight a close-up of a homeless mother and boy was a stroke of genius.  Composing it the way it’s composed was another stroke of genius as the viewer can’t help but ping-pong between the two corners with the faces.  It is quite an incredible photo, for it conveys tension though the subjects are asleep.

Here’s more talent: this mysterious photo – ‘shades’ of IR film – is confusing and atmospheric.  It’s unclear how it was shot but it’s pretty clear that Alfred Hitchcock would have loved it on his storyboard.  As would any director planning a The Third Man remake.

Checco is not only a natural talent, the man is something of a photography philosopher.  Consider his pithy rationale for preferring black-and-white, one of the most convincing you’ll find: “I believe that black-and-white photos are abstracts of reality that transport the focus of the viewer toward the essential elements of the subject and the overall graphic composition of the image itself. To me colors are distracting and clearly define the age of the photo whereas black-and-white photos are timeless.”

You will also find considerable technical opinions and expertise disclosed in the interview.

Artistry, however, needs no words.  This simple-seeming photograph was not so simple to conceive as it may seem; a less talented photographer may not have posed his subject as well nor taken the shot from the same angle.  What in other hands may have been soft porn is rendered here as ‘sincere art.’

Rare to the Power Four

August 15th, 2013 No Comments

Our weekly walk through the wild and weird side of photography takes a rare train stop today: Rare.  Here are four rare photographs that some pro photogs would give an arm and a leg to have taken.  We’ll see a seldom-seen species, an equally seldom-seen cultural icon, a rare natural phenomenon, and an optical illusion that is rare in its perfection.

Species

Regardless of the rarity of this hitherto-unseen animal in the wild, this strangely delightful critter – a ‘olinguito’ for the record – is a charmer.  Look at those interested, alert eyes and quizzical expression!

This photograph, released only yesterday, is probably zooming towards ‘viralhood’ as you’re reading this.  This first-rate wildlife image is credited to a photographer by the name of ‘Reuters.’

Icon

The geisha is iconic of Japanese culture high and low; she is a figure of myth and controversy.  Alas, you don’t exactly see them on the streets of Kyoto (or Kobe).  Panasonic had the idea of a lifetime to use one for an advertisement for their Lumix GX7.

Bernie DeChant was the lucky photog who got the assignment.  Dan Havlik on Imaging Resource has the story alongwith a video giving an inside look at the ‘making of a geisha,’ in turn making Lumix look elegant, traditional, and trendy all at the same time.

(CaNikon: “Darn! Why didn’t we think of that?!”)

Phenomenon

Twenty-four hours back UPI brought us a story about Lars ‘Lucky’ Lundqvist.  He’s the photog who happened to be in the right place at the right time and grabbed his opportunity.  He took a video of a waterspout accompanied by a rainbow – it is as lovely as it is interesting.

This video just might result in little Gotland’s Baltic coastline and beach becoming a bit of a destination for nature photographers.

Illusion

If you believe the evidence of your eyes, Belgium’s bully boys Vincent Kompany and Marouanne Fellaini like to ‘get their kicks’ playing football with dwarves.

Your eyes would be wrong, however, as the truth is that Mathieu Valbuena, though about nine inches shorter than taaall Kompany and Fellaini, is not a dwarf by any stretch.

The camera angle, focal length, foreshortening, and the precise position and angle of Valbuena’s legs, far from appearing like foreshortening, give him the proportions of persons with ‘dwarfism’!

Credit for this fourth lucky shot goes to Yves Herman and that Reuters fellow once again!

 

A Real-Life ‘Q’ and Karl Lagerfeld’s Publisher

August 14th, 2013 No Comments
English: Logo of Steidl Verlag Deutsch: Logo d...

English: Logo of Steidl Verlag Deutsch: Logo des Steidl Verlags (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ‘Couture’ Photo Book Maker

PDNOnline has just published an article that is as lengthy and detailed as it is interesting and informative; it is an inside look into the world of ‘couture’ photo book publishing.

Why Gerhard Steidl Is a Book Publishing Master by David Walker is about a man dedicated to the art and craft – to the point of being “obsessed” – of designing and publishing photo books that would usually not be published by traditional / major publishers.

Steidl goes so far as to co-design and do proofing with the photographer being a junior partner and with a stake in the process.

These sessions can get a little fraught and emotional; you’ll read about a female photographer who got tetchy one day and slapped Steidl, and found herself thrown out of his shop.  (The article also mentions that the two “made up” after Steidl demonstrated his technical wizardry to her the following day.)

You’ll get to know that Steidl is no ordinary private photo book publisher in any sense of the word: to begin with, his creations are anything but ordinary on top of which he is the commercial printer for Chanel and is the publisher for (besides high-profile photographers) Gunter Grass and Karl Lagerfeld.

A Real-Life ‘Q’

You’ve seen strobe-frozen photos of exploding fruit and droplets in midair countless times.  Head over to PetaPixel to learn about the history and science behind this now-well-known photographic technique.

In an appealing article subtitled Paying a visit to Doc Edgerton’s high speed photography lab, Randall Armor talks about the man who “made flashing light cheap and portable, and found endless applications for it,” Harold E. ‘Doc’ Edgerton.

Edgerton, who passed away in 1990, was an inventor and also a professor at MIT where he worked in a lab, now known as ‘Edgerton Center,’ that is filled with the kind of gadgetry that would probably be of great professional interest to ‘Q’ of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

The Edgerton Center is where high velocities, high-powered rifles, and high-speed strobes come together to make for high-tech photography.  This isn’t only about today or yesterday; Edgerton’s high-tech genius goes as far back as the 1950s when he had photographed pioneering high-speed images of nuclear bomb tests.

Read the article to find out what happens (or doesn’t happen) when a bullet goes through a cream doughnut and see an incredible image of a bullet tearing edgewise through a business card.

 

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The Talking Point about the Nikon Photography Contest

August 8th, 2013 No Comments
Nikon Ohi Factory

Nikon Ohi Factory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our two just-previous posts had to do with Nikon gear and a major contest.  Let’s close out the week by combining these two topics: The Nikon Contest!  This year’s contest results were announced two days back.  

Nikon is an innovator not only in photographic gear, but (and very obviously) in photography contests: witness the types of categories: Photo story (two to five images presenting a theme or idea), Photographic video (45 seconds in length), and a special new category, ‘Motion Snapshot’ made with the Nikon 1.  Get all the facts and figures from Zoltan Arva-Toth’s report in Photography Blog and the contest entry page.

Head on over to the somewhat curiously-designed winning entries page.  You’ll learn here that there a final judges meeting over two days during which a multi-session symposium was also conducted.

Click on each category (and not a particular image) to view the winners, such as Category C.  (Note, though, that if you want to view what Nikon calls “detail information about each work” you’ll have to visit the site again on or after 13th August.)

Category D’s winners are the most overtly humourous and most of Category B’s winners clearly lean towards Photojournalism.  Category A’s winners, however, make for a major talking point.

Category A was an open category for stills but this category’s winners circle is striking – astounding: for it almost seems as if this were one very narrowly-defined category: “Simple, Direct Compositions Involving Humans, and Telling a Little Story.”  Fully a dozen winners exactly fit this description with only one (‘The Sun Comes Out’) not fitting it at all!  How amazing that a big – B-I-G – judges panel ended up choosing winning photos with such a strongly-unifying common thread.

That interesting fact revealed, Category A’s strongly-typed winners include some beautiful images that are classically artistic, ‘Brassai-an’, and evocatively descriptive in their execution or style.

 

Too bad we have to wait another week for Nikon to publish these images in “detail information.”

 

 

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