Photographing Tears Under A Microscope
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Photography continues to illuminate our world and broaden our understanding of our place in it day after day after day. Don't believe me? Then take a look at these photographs of human tears, made by artist Rose-Lynn Fisher. She is best known for her photographic work involving microscopes, most notably her 2012 book "Bee," in which she photographed honey bees under intense magnification. During a particularly difficult time in her life, the artist wondered if her tears of grief were biologically different from tears of joy, so she began to photograph them under her microscope. She found that basal tears, the ones produced for simple lubrication, are drastically different than the ones that come about from emotions, which themselves vary dramatically whether they're from laughter or sorrow. Her project is called "The Topography of Tears," and it's not only an interesting scientific study, it contains some really fascinating photographs that easily tell this illuminating story. Check out the work via Lifebuzz below, then read an insightful interview with Ms. Fisher at Wired's Raw File photo blog.
Turn Your Room Into A Camera Obscura
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
You know, I've always wanted to turn my bedroom into a camera obscura. After all, it's what started this whole photography thing in the first place. The term essentially means Dark Room, and that's what you start with to make your own life-size camera obscura. The best part is all you need is a single window (in fact, one is preferable to many because it's easier to keep your dark room dark), some cardboard and scissors, and voila—you've got your very own camera obscura. As long as you don't mind the view being upside down, it's perfect. Shoot your own photos of the view and you can create some extremely interesting images, which is what the photographing/blogging team known as "Destruction of Cats" has accomplished here. The technique is fairly straightforward, and may even provide you with a bit of a profound understand about what it actually takes to make a camera. It's really just a light tight box with an opening to let in light. It'll certainly impress your friends, and who knows, if you work hard at making photographs with your camera obscure you may find yourself on par with some talented fine art photographers like Abelardo Morell and Vera Lutter. They have taken the camera obscura to new heights. You can examine their great work via the links below.
Win A Great Alaskan Photo Expedition
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Datacolor, makers of the Spyder color management solutions Capture Pro and Checkr Pro, has unveiled a photography contest. The Great Alaskan Photo Expedition is technically a sweepstakes, meaning your odds of winning aren't tied to how great your photos are. But the prize is sure to let you make some pretty amazing images during your trip. Through May 27th, enter to win an all expenses paid trip to Cook Inlet for one week working alongside award-winning nature photographer David Cardinal. Valued at $10,000, the grand prize includes round trip airfare into and out of Anchorage Alaska on July 8, 2014, as well as all meals and lodging, chartered flights into the Lake Clark National Preserve, personal photo instruction by Mr. Cardinal, as well as a suite of Spyder color management tools and a Sigma 150-500mm f/5.6-6.3 telephoto zoom—perfect for capturing the brown bears, puffins and expansive landscapes the Alaskan wilderness is known for. Enter the contest via the link below.
Calumet Comes Back
Monday, May 19, 2014
Remember several weeks back when it was reported that major photography equipment retailer Calumet, based in Chicago, abruptly filed bankruptcy, closed all of its stores and laid off many employees on the spot? Well the news has just gotten a little bit better for those directly affected by the closing. In April an organization called C&A Marketing purchased Calumet and just last week reopened one of the newer, more successful retail locations—the flagship store in Oak Brook, Illinois. The web site isn’t back to full speed yet, but it does appear to be on its way. C&A Marketing has a history in the photo industry, having purchased the licensing rights to the Polaroid brand for video cameras and other products after the instant camera maker went belly up in 2008, and in 2012 the firm acquired some Ritz Camera Stores. According to the Wall Street Journal, C&A Marketing’s executive vice president, Chaim Pikarski, said of the firm’s Polaroid purchase, “We learned how to bring a distressed brand back to life.” That’s exactly what’s needed with Calumet, and with the Oak Brook store the company sees a proper direction for the retailer moving forward. This is great news especially for some of the Calumet employees who had lost their jobs, but even beyond those directly impacted by the bankruptcy, most photographers would likely agree it’s good to have this retailer back in the game, even if only in a limited capacity.
The FlashQ Wireless Flash Transmitter
Friday, May 16, 2014
Heard of the FlashQ? Well if you haven't, you're about to. This little device, about the size of a couple bucks in quarters stacked up, is built to be a compact and stylish wireless flash trigger. Currently seeking funding via an Indiegogo campaign, the FlashQ has reached its goal of $25,000 and so the things will in fact go into production this summer, with expected shipping beginning in September. What's so special about another wireless flash trigger? This one is small, simple and really inexpensive. At $39 for a set (transmitter and receiver) the devices fit onto the hot shoe of even compact mirrorless cameras and the foot of a handheld flash in order to communicate effectively and transmit the signal that fires a flash. It works just as well with a big camera, but for users really looking to cut the size and weight of their kits, the tiny FlashQ looks like the perfect inexpensive and super-useful accessory.
Apple Hires Mobile Camera Guru
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Do you recall seeing the commercials for Nokia's Lumia 1020 and its whopping 41-megapixel camera? The Lumia 1020, in case you don't know, is a cell phone, and that high resolution is by far the industry leader. Well the folks at Apple, makers of another pioneer in the smartphone realm, must have taken note as the company has just hired the former Lumia Photography Lead from Nokia, Ari Partinen. It's not clear yet exactly what Apple has in the works for its next iPhone, but it is known that the company is pushing for better photographic capability in its devices. A recent patent filing from the company, in fact, mentions "a system and method for creating a super-resolution image using an image capturing device." I don't know what "super-resolution" means, but I think I like it. It's fascinating to watch how smartphones become better and more capable cameras by the year. I'm still waiting for the convergence, when we get a more traditional camera-shaped device with built in smartphone-style features. But I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, I'll settle for watching my smartphone become a better and better camera with every generation. Chase Jarvis really was right: the best camera is the one you have with you.
High Speed Flash Photography Of Splashes And More
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I just saw a fun video on Digital Rev TV. In this video, Kai and his team are photographing water splashes. While the second half of the video shows a bunch of camera geeks basically goofing around in water, the first half contains some pretty useful information. Namely, there's a really good explanation of how flash duration affects the ability of light to freeze fast action. Did you know that the lower a flash's output, the shorter the duration of the flash? It's true. Power output is adjusted is by changing the duration of a flash burst. For instance, let's say a flash's duration is 1/1000th of a second at full power. At half power it's 1/2000th, quarter power 1/4000th, and so on. More than that, though, some flashes (such as the Broncolor pack featured in the video) are built with super-short flash durations in mind—explicitly for their tremendous ability to freeze fast moving action. The video explains how this is measured from flash to flash via T.5 and T.1 times (measurements essentially of the time it takes a flash to go from peak output to off). The longer that duration, the longer the duration of the flash and the less capable it will be at stopping motion. A T.5 time specifically measures the time from peak to 50% output, while T.1 is much more accurate representation of a flash's overall duration as it measures the time from peak output to just 10% power. A short T.1 time means you've got a fast flash, capable of freezing action much better than even a fast shutter speed. Check the video to see these short durations and fast T.1 times in action.
No Drone Photography In Yosemite National Park
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The National Park Service has ruled that drones, the radio controlled compact helicopters and quadcopters that are increasingly used for aerial photography (and the theoretical future delivery of Amazon purchases) are banned in Yosemite National Park. And I, for one, have to agree. I know, I should come down on the side of photographers every time, but actually I feel like that's what I'm doing by supporting this ban. Let's say you're ready to make a great image of half dome when what appears in the corner of your composition but a drone copter. No, the ban isn't because these things would ruin landscape photographs, it's because they're loud and disruptive and possibly even dangerous, depending on where they're used and by whom. Anyway, if our most sacred natural places can't be protected from an influx of noisy flying cameras, then what's going to be left that any of us will want to photograph? Here's an explanation of the rules via DPReview, with a spirited discussion following in the comments.