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Archive for July, 2013

Three-Pack: News, Gear, and How-To

July 31st, 2013 No Comments

We’ll close the week with one nibble each from three of our usual categories: interesting news, tutorials and how-tos, and gear and gadgets.  

News

If you’re an amateur you’re probably not a member of the AIPP.  Why not see how ‘the other half lives’?  Earlier today the AIPP reported on their just-finished Epson-Sponsored State Awards 2013 which ended after Victoria’s winners were announced.  A “total of 3383 prints [were] entered by 620 entrants” with only seven – one from each state – winning the overall ‘Professional Photographer of the Year” title.

Check out the winners on AIPP Epson Photographer of the Year Awards.  All the honoured photos, i.e. the best photographs of each category-winning photographer, are viewable but this may not be immediately evident.  Just click the state name in the top bar, e.g. here’s the page for NSW.  A mini-gallery of dozens of gorgeous photos, dimmed, will be displayed.  Hover/mouse-over on each to remove the dimming or click on a photo to view it in high-res.

Gear

You may have read about Socialmatic’s Polaroid-branded camera for the Instagram crowd.  It is so ‘Instagramy’ that the camera too is square!  The Polaroid name makes perfect sense because this camera will spit out printed photos.  Unlike those old Polaroids, this is a bona fide digital camera which will store your prints on a card, thus you get the best of both worlds.

Make it the best of three worlds: as a ‘connected’ camera, with WiFi and Bluetooth, you can instantly upload and share photographs too.

Several days back Photography Blog and and Digital Spy published details about this early 2014 release’s impressive features and specs and its price – and if the quality is any good, at that price this baby is gonna be a smash hit.

Tutorial

Earlier today Shutterbug published a highly-specific how-to by Clay Blackmore: Mastering the 3/4 Couples Pose.

Blackmore provides four tips that include a rather counter-intuitive launch-pad and a ‘couple shooting’ fundamental for the second step, ‘Lean In,’ though that is “never about pushing them together all at once,” he advises.  Other good advice includes shooting ‘classic’ before you get ‘creative’.

Check out the article for the rest of the tips in this brief how-to that is adorned with one or two couple photos whose subjects you may recognize.

The format of today’s post is mirrored on our sister site so if you like the topics but not the exact contents, head over to the other blog where something may strike your fancy.

 

Of Humour, Ants, and That ’Orrible ‘Glamour-Dimmer’

July 30th, 2013 No Comments

A Myrmecologist’s Gallery

DPReview writes that ant fights include “brutal take-downs that rival UFC brawls.”  Poetic flight of fancy, straightforward facts, or something in-between?  Look at this photo and you will be able to make a quick and correct decision.

DPReview’s very specialized story on ant Macro Photography is about the strange passion of Alex Wild who seems to have photographed ants in many parts of the world and seems to know a lot about their loves and lives to the extent that his website has a special section devoted to ‘Ants Fighting’ and has a top-level heading, ‘Ants’ where you’ll find out that, besides being a photographer, Wild is also a ‘Myrmecologist’!

All that explained, most any photographer interested in Macro Photography will be blown away by Wild’s photographs of insect warfare. 

A Humourist’s Gallery

How would you like to tickle a brown bear under the ‘armpits’ and make it howl with pleasure?  At least that’s what someone in a photo by camera-toting funnyman Zack Seckler seems to be doing – and to a wall-mounted stuffed animal, at that!

If that joke is a little too ‘hairy’ for you, how about a lion patiently waiting at a deer crossing?

PetaPixel has just run a story on Seckler’s photographic pranks and visual puns.  There is no doubting his imagination and his technical skills to execute his vision with a camera.  Seckler’s website has a whole section under the heading ‘Humor’ that’s loaded with whimsies galore.  

Seckler’s humour and artistry combined and found a high point in a marvellous photograph of some type of monkey or lemur in a barren, dead tree in a desert!

Any photographer who feels jaded and needs a ‘shot’ of inspiration might want to pay a visit to Seckler’s online gallery.

A Celebrity Passport-Picture Gallery

Okay, let’s double up on humour, shall we?

Sarah Gilbert and The Guardian are surely severely starstruck: this oh-so serious, snooty and high-minded newspaper says that celebrities’ “true glamour” cannot be “dim[med]” even by that terrifying and notorious glamour-dimmer (shudder!), the “brutality” (sic) of the “photo booth”

Leaf through this gallery to view an airbrushed pic of Marilyn, a flaky-looking Virginia Woolf, a scary, zombie-like Janis Joplin, and a waxwork of Whitney.  Whoever finds ‘true glamour’ here should try his/her chances searching for Long John Silver’s pieces of eight.

You’ll be chuckling and giggling all the way, not only at the photos, but, at The Guardian getting all silly and dizzy about funny photos.

 

The ‘Black and White’ of Coastal Ukraine and Inner-City Chicago

July 29th, 2013 No Comments

The ‘Black Sea’ of Ukraine

If you like no-holds-barred documenting of grey city zones and urban decay, Rafal Milach’s Black Sea of Concrete may appeal to you.  This play on words focusses on the ugly ‘sea’ of ‘concrete’ along Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.  The photographer himself sees his work as “post-Soviet nostalgia,” as he puts it in a story on BJP.  

Check out his bleak vision of a dock – something from a dystopic Sci-Fi film?  This image embodies the title, ‘Black Sea of Concrete’, doesn’t it?  Now this image of wreck, rocks and grey sea does look like it’s straight out of that endtimes Hollywood epic, Waterworld.  

As for that ‘post-Soviet nostalgia,’ could anything embody that aspect better than a stylized ‘concrete’ hammer and sickle in an umkempt ‘sea’ of weeds and paving slabs? 

If, by now, you’re yearning for some colour, here’s just about the only outdoor splash of it in this mini-gallery; though even this image conveys decay and bleakness.

If telling it like it is in ’50 Shades of Grey’ all the way through to ‘black’ appeals to you, you may wish to get Milach’s photo book.

John ‘White’ of Chicago

Nearly two months back we had blogged about the Chicago Sun-Times’s infamous retrenchment of its entire photographic corps.  That corps counted among its assets a Pulitzer Prize winner, John H. White.  Photography Blog has run a story mentioning that White’s era-defining photographs of Chicago’s South Side will open in a London gallery a week from today.

These photographs are truly evocative, capturing the ethos and spirit of a particular community in a particular time.

Here is a startling photo of a drab residential block in front of which stands a young couple – who have evidently been thrown out of their home.  A less startling and more gentle, though equally race-tinged, photograph of black women (‘missionaries’ according to the caption) in white boarding a bus harks one back to the 1960s as it carries a whiff of segregation.

The year 1970 was near or around the height of the ‘Black Power’ Movement.  A photograph of a ‘human blockade’ of another eviction radiates that ‘Black Power’ consciousness – upraised closed-fist salutes notwithstanding.

Not all was gloom and doom; White managed to capture lightness and optimism too: witness this young girl’s dreams of someday becoming a gymnast being formulated and expressed in a very unhospitable setting for gymnastics. 

This exhibition is scheduled to run for four weeks.

 

Gobsmacked: Frogs Holding Umberellas!

July 24th, 2013 No Comments

This week’s edition of weird and off-the-wall news from the World of Photography is not at all weird or off-the-wall; it’s more like amazing, gobsmacking news.

Frogs Holding Umberellas – Really!

We know that chimps and monkeys use tools; it turns out that tree frogs do too – they use umberellas!  Three absolutely awesome photographs by Penkdix Palme were published by SWNS.com yesterday.  These photos show a frog clutching at the stem of a leaf, clearly using it as an umberella, to hold it over itself.  Two of the photographs show the amphibian angling the leaf transverse to the direction of the shower.

Let’s hope to heavens these photos are not manipulated in any way.  Why haven’t these images – scientifically groundbreaking ones? – gone viral?

Royal Baby == Crushed Photogs

By now you have probably seen a bunch of photos of England’s future sovereign with his proud parents.  But none of them have remotely been like this one.

Amateur Photographer reports on an unusual photo of the event.  Lewis Whyld has published a 360-degree photograph of the moment when parents and baby emerged into the street, depicting a media crush like no other.

The 360-degree panorama will sweep by itself aftere you press the ‘Play’ button; however, you can speed it along or reverse it by swiping on it.

‘Clowning Around’

Twenty-four hours back, the Baltimore Sun Darkroom ‘clowned around’ in Guatemala for Latin America’s Fifth Annual Clown Convention with some very viewable pics!

This gallery has photos that are explosions of vibrant, gaudy colour.  It also has photos filled with equally vibrant but harmonious colours.  

If you ever thought clowns are scary, Boo!  And if you think they’re funny, who could be funnier than this ‘little tramp’?  If they make you dizzy, try this pic.  But if you think that underneath it all they’re just like you and me, you’re probably the most correct.

We sign off with a special just for you, dear photographer! 

 

From Equatorial Africa to the Arctic Pole . . . and Outer Space!

July 23rd, 2013 No Comments

Today we look at three very unusual photo galleries.  On Monday German, Canadian and American websites posted news items about exhibitions and galleries related to subjects from Equatorial Africa, the Polar North, and in Outer Space!

Equatorial Africa

Helen Whittle on Deutsche Welle suggests that the West’s view of Africa has been defined by Photography.  Whether or not she gives photography more credit and more power than it deserves, her thesis is developed from the germ of an idea around which a major photography exhibition has been put together at The Walther Collection in small town Germany.

The exhibition is divided into three sections of which the early twentieth century photographs of Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin (found in the ‘Black House’ section) comprise the centrepiece.

These are not ‘art photographs’ but very faithfully rendered portraits of African subjects that do not depict them as such, in any manner or with any intent; rather they capture, preserve, the subjects as they are, perhaps even teasing out the respective subject’s essence.  The intention does not seem too distant from that of Karsh’s (much more) famous portraits of famous personages. 

Equally fine “vintage portraits” documenting a bygone Africa from the nineteenth century are seen in the ‘Green House’ section by various (for the time) very talented photographers.

Polar North

CBC features a story about photographs of “rare arctic wildlife scenes” with the interesting twist that no photographer is involved!  You see, the photos were taken “using remote camera technology.”

These motion-sensing cameras did the job in temperatures that fell to -40 in Yukon Territory’s Ivvavik National Park, capturing images of shy and seldom-seen animals.

The eleven-image gallery shows porcupine caribou, grizzly bears, and even a wolverine and a musk ox, apart from impressive views of an unspoilt tundra.  You can also see some of the same, and older, images on Parks Canada’s website.

Outer Space (well, not technically)

Sorry photogs, but the only way you’ll ever be able to take photos like the ones on offer here is if you book a million-dollar seat on a space shuttle.  PetaPixel reports on “a rare portrait session” for Planet Earth from “almost a billion miles away.”

By some chance these photographs, taken in interplanetary space, are artistically appealing.  The Earth, appearing as a pinpoint of light near the centre of the image, can be missed.  It is the curvature of Saturn in one or another corner with those obvious and well-known banded rings in a sea of gradated blackness that ‘makes’ these photos.

 

Akvis, Fujifilm, Canon: Apps, Lenses, Allegations!

July 22nd, 2013 No Comments

A Revised App

Akvis have just released AirBrush v. 2.0.  If you’re a photographer, it allows you to play at being Cezanne or Gauguin.  

Available either as a standalone app or a plugin for Photoshop, AirBrush converts your plain jane photograph into an airbrushed painting with one click – choose one of the 55 presets and that’s it.  Or mess around with the effect settings.

The sample image on Photography Blog’s write-up indeed resembles a restrained expressionistic landscape.  You can also achieve a fine illustration effect, among others.

Photography Blog says that a “full-featured free evaluation download of AKVIS AirBrush v.2.0 is available at the Product Page.”

A New Lens

Fujifilm, capitalizing on its growing perception of being a big league camera-system maker, has been making lenses for a while.  The latest one is a prime pancake lens, the XF 27mm F2.8 (41mm equivalent).  This lens has just been reviewed by Mark Goldstein on Photography Blog.

Its design is based around five elements, including one aspheric, in four groups.  

Performance-wise it does extremely well where distortion and chromatic aberrations are concerned with edge sharpness being the only fly in the ointment.  An interesting quirk of this lens is that the aperture at which you can get the sharpest images is not two or three stops from wide open, but, all the way down at f/11.

Getting top marks in size and weight, Fujifilm’s XF 27mm F2.8 garners four out of five stars from Goldstein and Photography Blog.

A Fresh Allegation

In case you’ve been away from the rumour grapevine, Canon has lately been up to some mischief.  Rik Henderson on Pocket-lint puts it thus: “Canon allegedly testing 75-megapixel Pro DSLR camera.”  

Such a leap in resolution technology would put Canon squarely in competition with large format and digital back makers and separate itself from Nikon.

The piece also mentions giant advances in the rear LCD’s resolution and the frame rate.

The news of the monster MP number has been churning up the blogosphere for the past several hours; however, the sole source for all the hubbub seems to be one rumour published on Photography Bay by Eric Reagan.

That said, bookmakers are offering even odds that before 2014 closes, Canon will indeed announce such a camera.

 

Controversy: Facebook/Instagram, Your Slip is Showing!

July 17th, 2013 No Comments
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

We post a near-weekly article on a controversy in the Photography Industry on our sister blog on our professional site.  Let’s change ends and bring one controversy to our consumer-side readers.

Controversy, it seems begets controversy.  Though this one is flying under the radar, the issue is not any the less controversial.  About six months back we had blogged about the ‘Instagram Controversy.’  That situation had given rise to a class action lawsuit.  Today, Facebook, owner of Instagram, is both relieved (and perhaps a little cock-a-hoop) that the lawsuit “was dismissed by a judge last Friday on procedural grounds.”  This judgment is available on Gigaom and PhoneArena.

Note the key term ‘procedural grounds.’  That means that the underlying alleged facts of the case did not come into play.  The class action was always going to be an uphill struggle; after all, Instagram/Facebook did not sell harmful products nor did they even mislabel a product or service.  They pulled a ‘switcheroo’ on users who were using a free service.  Users who were unhappy with the switcheroo were free to terminate their accounts and take their (unpaid) business elsewhere.

That’s just the ‘common sense’ view.  With the alleged facts never being looked into (because the class action was procedurally deficient), one cannot tell whether or not the lawsuit, which pertained to ownership of rights of a web-service user’s photographs, had any merit or not.

All that said, perhaps we can draw an inference from a very revealing question cum plea out there on Facebook itself; in the write-up by David Cohen on its own site: “Readers[,] Is there any point to this case, since Instagram already reverted to its prior terms of service?”

“. . . reverted to its prior . . .”  But why?  Aha!  So Facebook/Instagram pulled a switcheroo on the switcheroo – a double U-Turn – because and after ‘they got caught’!

So what would have happened had there been no outcry, no uproar, no controversy?  Facebook isn’t telling but it’s reasonable to infer that that there would have been no second change of direction . . . .  Silently, quietly, Instagram may well have been enjoying some or another fruits from their unwitting users’ photographs!  

Now ain’t that controversial?

 

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Story-Review-Gallery Combo

July 16th, 2013 No Comments

Story

Thank heavens we’re not ‘fanboys’ and thank heavens we don’t do reviews anyway!  DPReview has a short story about bogus online reviews that ‘dis’ one or another product.  These fake reviews are attributed to fanboys gone bad.  This news story is actually based on a bona fide academic study, Deceptive Reviews: The Influential Tail (40 pages) by Eric Anderson and Duncan Simester.  

It’s an open secret that some small-time brands and sellers purchase review writers’ ‘services.’  Anderson and Simester have uncovered a dual reverse phenomenon: some self-appointed reviewers post negative reviews . . . gratis! 

Briefly, the authors began with a set of reviews that were known to be genuine and another set that was known to be fake.  They used syntactic and linguistic analysis over these different sets to determine whether any patterns could be found, and voila!  These findings allow one to infer which review has a good chance of being a fake.

Electoral candidates well know the value of negative advertising during elections.  Clearly, some ‘fanboys’ are learning well from them.

Review

Having written what we have above, we’d better not sound negative about the Samsung Galaxy S4.  Fortunately, all we’re doing is concisely presenting what Daniel Bell has to say on ePHOTOzine about this android gadget.

This 13 MP smartphone camera has Full HD video and goodies like Panorama and HDR modes.  Notably, it has an AMOLED display – a Samsung-LG innovation from last year.

Image quality in all its facets is not something to get too excited about; then again, there’s nothing particularly poor about it.  Bell politely uses the word ‘good’ throughout this part of his review.

It edges the iPhone 5 on one score: high-res panoramas but in portraits it’s “not ideal” – they “aren’t great.”  Bell awards the Galaxy S4 two 3-1/2 stars and two 4 stars in ePHOTOzine’s four essential review criteria. 

Gallery

Masters of Vision is a British biennale that is due to open next month to “showcase the work of legendary master landscape photographer Joe Cornish and eight other inspirational UK landscape photographers,” reports Photography Blog.

Judging from the images on the website’s main page this exhibition is much about Ethereal Nature.

In truth this gallery is deserving of a full-length post, comprising as it does of some of the finest work of some of the country’s finest photographic artists

Take, for instance, Joe Cornish’s incredibly captured ‘God Beams’ bathing a hilly Northern landscape, making for an image that is quite transfixing.  Or David Baker’s minimalistic study of sky, waves and spume, radiating both beauty and menace.

Come to think of it, with the amazing variety and sheer number of gorgeous photographs in this gallery, why not dedicate a post exclusively to it . . . .

If this Story-Review-Gallery combo doesn’t do it for you, head over to today’s equivalent on our sister blog!

 

Galleries: Combat and Worship

July 15th, 2013 No Comments

The past 24 hours have offered up two extremely contrasting galleries: one devoted to combat; the other to worship!

Combat

Kainaz Amaria on NPR’s ‘the picture show’ discusses a War Photography exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.  She says, “it has the usual array of iconic war photographs” but the real strength of this exhibition is “in the presentation of our collective war story.”

Actually, another strength may be the exhibit’s sheer breadth and range: it features “more than 185 photographs from 25 nationalities with conflicts spanning 165 years.”  Exceptional quality and selectivity are two more strengths: over one million photographs were viewed from which the exhibition images were culled.

The article includes 20-odd photos in a mini-gallery.  See a sergeant treating a recruit to a staredown and compare it with a grunt’s glazed stare.

 A photograph of Nicaraguan rebels is one of the most unusually colourful war photos you’ll ever see.  Just like bursts of bright colour, ballet and art are not associated with war either, yet this photograph of infantrymen leaping over a trench is artistic and balletic exploring form, movement, and warriors in the abstract.  If overt warfront action is more your style, this mini-gallery has you covered.

Flick through the gallery for even more overt photos, a couple of which may be gut-wrenching.

Worship

Today’s installment in Baltimore Sun Darkroom is a gallery of photographs revealing the inner workings of the seldom-seen Baltimore Carmelite Monastery where fewer than 20 sisters live of whom you can see three chanting vespers and five in prayer.

The gallery begins with the hint of a sunswept lawn seen through a dim corridor that is dominated by stained glass with a religious motif.  However, this is a modern residence for women devoted to religion and not a hillside cloister: witness other photographs that are documentary and prosaic, such as this image of a sister gardening and one that could have been taken in any suburban kitchen.

That said, this modern-day monastery has a Seventeenth Century antiquarian book or two and its own religious relics.

Combat and Worship

We close with a convergence of our two topics by way of the Spanish Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona in which a holy day – a remembrance to a saint – is marked by combat in the bullring.

The festival took place last week.  Kevin Fischer identifies two photos that are not the same old, same old.  Here’s a photo of a bull being kept at bay by stick-toting men and another of a cow leaping over scared revellers.  

 

Oh, The Rugged Sea Life!

July 12th, 2013 No Comments

Today’s three-part post focusses on stories from the past day or two that have to do with being rugged, on ‘sea life’, and both

Rugged

The Pentax K-30 is not an out-and-out competitor in the ‘tough camera’ category; rather, it is a small DSLR that is rugged and designed for extreme weather usage.  As it happens, Pentax’s very own Optio WG-2 is considered to be the best tough camera.

 Joe Farace has reviewed the K-30 on Shutterbug and found lots to enthuse about in this 16 MP APS-C camera.  For example, the autofocus is superfast, the image stabilization is first-rate, and it will work through a mountain rainstorm, thanks to its 81 seals and cold-resistant characteristics.

The K-30 is a DSLR that is not only hardy but is also inviting to novices: besides good old auto-exposure it has ‘Auto Picture Mode,’ turning it into a point-and-shoot, no matter the situation.  The newbie can rest assured that the camera will pick the right scene mode.

Read Farace’s review for the full lowdown on the camera that “has the persona of an entry-level digital SLR [but] is clearly much more than that.”

SeaLife

SeaLife, as one may infer from the name, makes cameras especially for the rigours and special circumstances of underwater photography and deep-sea diving.

A press release on Shutterbug states that their ReefMaster is a 9MP camera that is waterproof to a depth of 200 feet.  It has built-in colour correction for underwater shooting.

There is a dearth of professional independent reviews on the ReefMaster.  It seems to have a wart or two, such as an optional lens obscuring a part of the flash, but at its price-point it seems to be more than adequate for underwater snapshot photography.

Rugged And ‘SeaLife’

We’ll close by bringing together ruggedness and ‘sea life’ in a single story.

After three months at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, an Olympus Tough camera lived up to its name: it yielded a memory card with about 500 holiday photos.  That’s tough!

The brief story on ePHOTOzine relates that two Finnish divers who lost it were traced through Facebook after a German diver retrieved the camera.  It also has two photos of the Olympus Tough caked with sea-salt all round!  

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