For the most of you it’s nothing new that a large part of my motives und uploads are cats and dogs. But you don’t know, that almost all of those four-legged friends live in my neighborhood. It is really unusual not coming across with a new furry neighbor when I take a step outside. In Germany we are used to rigorous regulation and as a result pets must belong to someone. This is entirely different in Serbia. Here it is just as usual to own a dog – especially in the countryside – but in the cities you can find many stray dogs or “communal-dogs”. The first-mentioned form often packs in which single dogs differ in age, size and breed. It is not uncommon that Labrador-retrievers or rottweilers are accompanied by sausage dogs or pikeneses. “Communal-dogs” belong to nobody but they are fed and supplied by various families or the whole neighborhood. Among the cats the differences are significantly greater than in Germany. It is unusual that someone own a cat and it is rarer that someone keeps it in his own four walls. More common are abandoned cats or “communal-cats”. One ought to think that this concept can’t work but you underestimate the creativity and flexibility of the dogs and cats and the people’s generosity. Meanwhile I’ve purchased a food bowl too, which I stock up regularly. Especially then, when a new “neighbor” comes around to introduce himself. :) Continue reading →
While calendric summer just brought us rain, calendric fall has now been offering endless sunshine…maybe next year’s summer will bring snow and winter will be sunny and warm? Going to the seaside at Christmas would make a change from decorating the Christmas tree and building snowmen in the yard. ;) Needless to say, my photon-hungry DP2Q enjoys the currently highly photo-friendly weather situation. But I am already dreading the dim days and months that are to follow. For this reason, I’ve lately been reading up on the topic of remote flash. Articles on compact cameras with high flash-sync speeds combined with extension cords and remote triggers, like this one, particularly appeal to me. Just like the Fuji X100 that is used there, the Sigma DPs also come with a leaf shutter that is said to render them particularly suitable for this kind of photography. However, the problem is that Google search hardly yields any entries or suitable pictures. Is flash that unpopular among SIGMAians, or have I missed a crucial constraint that makes the DPs, contrary to expectations, entirely useless for remote flash? I am familiar with PocketWizard, but the remote triggers of this manufacturer are a bit too expensive for my liking. Which manufacturers have a good cost-benefit ratio? Continue reading →
A few days ago, at Adobe Max 2014, Adobe introduced two very interesting features which are based on innovative algorithms and require only a minimum of user input. As the name suggests, the first feature, Time of Day, allows the user to change the time of day in the photo. The lighting and the colors are adapted automatically – the only thing you have to do is to fine-tune the effect using the slider. As far as I can see, the photo on the left bellow is the original. In the video underneath the montage the feature is explained in more detail.
Domesticated four-legged animals rank among the most popular subjects – the web is virtually full of cat and dog pictures. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of wild animals. They are considerably less frequently photographed, mostly in deadly serious or threatening poses. Photos like this don’t particularly contribute to preserving wild animals and their habitat. At least not in the age of “Hello Kitty” we currently seem to live in. Definitely missing are the playful and cuddly moments that are the order of the day even for wild animals. Especially focusing on this tender and cute side of wild fauna is Spanish photographer Marina Cano. Somehow she succeeds in getting shots of those animals not renowned for their playful or cuddly behavior, or ones that are supposed to be particularly dangerous or shy.
Sigma-Rumors reported a few days ago about the first sample pictures of the new 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Sports lens. Now, the chinese website qicai.fengniao.com published the first samples at open aperture – just in time for the retail start in mid October. These brand new samples, shot with a Canon 5D Mk III, can be browsed on Imgur. Imgur may load a bit faster, yet only one of the pictures is available in full resolution. On the Chinese website, on the other hand, one can see all the pictures in full resolution, they just take a bit longer to load. The picture with the eagle looks a bit blurry, but the portrait pictures at 279mm and 600mm (the second one) provide a good idea of the potential of the new lens.
Some people, like zoologist Kevin Richardson, are fearless and have the rare gift of being able to get very close to dangerous wild animals, and even to play and cuddle with them. If you are not a lion whisperer, you have to be content with marveling at the wonderful animals from a safe distance. For photographers in particular it is a nuisance not to have the lion whisperer gene since they want to take interesting, authentic and rich-in-detail pictures on the one hand, on the other they don’t want to disturb the animals or put their lives at risk. In order to solve this problem, photographer Steve Mandel developed his LionCam – a remote-controlled buggy camera that is based on British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas’ BeetleCam. The photos that Mandel took with his LionCam are impressive and immediately reminded me of Anput Shah’s photo series “Serengeti Spy”, which I wrote about here. This series used a remote-controlled camera as well, albeit a stationary one.
After several forum entries regarding the narrow dynamic range of the Quattro, especially the small reserves in the highlights, I started my own comparison with the DP2 Merrill to literally see for myself. The whole venture turned out more difficult than I initially thought. At the first try (aperture priority), exposure times didn’t match. At the second try, I took pictures with both cameras in M-mode, adjusted equal aperture setting, ISOs and exposure times, but the pictures had different levels of brightness. Since I worked with natural light at the first and second try, I had to exclude this potential error source at the next attempt. I didn’t take any chance at the third try: M-mode and artificial light. The result: the Quattro is less sensitive at equal ISO level than the Merrill. Only if exposure for the Quattro pictures is set to +0,67 in SPP or Lightroom, the shots of both cameras look similarly bright.
Have you ever watched this year’s science-fiction action-blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy”? If so, the tree-like being called Groot surely got stuck in your memory. Fans of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy surely remember the Dendroids/Treants, a human-being-like tree-tribe from Tolkien’s mythical world. Those and similar fantasy characters seem to have served Elido Turco as inspiration for his photo-series “dream creatures”. Always on the scout for boughs, tree barks or tree trunks which look humanoid, the Italian has been exploring forests in his native region Friaul for four years. But before he began mirroring his pictures with Photoshop, his forest walks had not been crowned with success. Only now with a bit of “pixelmagic” the mythical creatures jump from fiction to reality.
For over ten years Estonian photographer Andrew Bodrov has been photographing panoramas all over the world. Last year he created this 4 gigapixel panorama of our neighbor planet Mars (consisting of 407 pictures by the Curiosity space probe). His newest project are spherical panoramas which – unlike typical photos of this genre – are anything but clichéd and boring. This is mainly due to a good eye for detail and a thoughtful choice of motifs. Like other trendy effects (HDR, anyone?), the “little planets” cannot replace an interesting subject. Bodrov is conscious of that and takes pictures of subjects that would be interesting without the effect, but gain something special because of it. His preferred motifs are rocket launches, spooky cemeteries, air shows and monuments.
The Foveon look is a broadly discussed topic in photography forums. There are the ones who recognize and like it at first glance, and then there are others who don’t see it, wondering what all the fuss is about. Conspicuously often, it is referred to as “the Foveon look”, as if there’s only one. I believe there are at least three of them – pre-Merrill, Merrill and Quattro. Every time the look changed, it was due to a new sensor design. The role of the software mustn’t be underestimated, however. I am currently comparing my pictures taken with the DP2Q before 1.02 FW/SPP 6.0.6 and after the two updates. Maybe it’s just imagination, but the more I switch between the photos shot before and after the updates, the more I recognize a higher micro contrast and less saturated shadows for the photos taken after the updates with FW 1.02/SPP 6.0.6. Sigma probably thought they had to react to comments and reviews by diverse Merrill fans expressing negative opinions about the Quattro’s low micro contrast. Any way, it seems impossible to unite high micro contrast, little noise and high color saturation in the shadows. The higher micro contrast makes the grain appear sharper. For the grain to remain inconspicuous despite high micro contrast, it simply has to be desaturated and smoothed out a bit. This, in turn, reduces color saturation in the shadows.