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.
After updating the firmware on the DP2 Quattro to 1.02 and installing SPP 6.0.6, I’ve decided to take more pictures in order to verify some internet forum posts, according to which, the Quattro’s microcontrast has increased with the latest updates. As a consequence, the Quattro is supposed to be somewhat closer to the Merrill in terms of look. Unfortunately, I can neither confirm nor deny these accounts, as I haven’t taken many pictures since the firmware update and my last photo-laden blog entry. Bad and changeable weather has upset my plans. In order to do a direct comparison I would have to downgrade the firmware but I don’t know if this is possible in general and if so, how tricky it is.
At any rate, I will post a DR comparison between the Quatto and the Merrill in the coming days, because significantly more people seem to be interested in the dynamic range topic. I know how to measure the headroom in the highlights – simply overexpose, drag the exposure in SPP with the exact same value to negative and look for signs of clipping. But how can I determine the headroom in the shadows? In this regard it is only possible to look which camera/sensor has more noise. I could really use some tips and suggestions :)
US-American photographer Sandro Miller and world-famous actor John Malkovich replicated some of the best-known and most iconic shots in the history of photography as part of their photo-project „Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to photographic masters“…with Malkovich taking the role of the respective subject. This may as well be the most uncommon photo news and the most bizarre pictures in awhile, namely in two respects. On the one hand, the meaning behind this photo-series is not quite obvious even at second glance. If the series is aimed as homage to diverse masters of photography, why do some of the pictures seem like caricatured original photographs? On the other hand, Malkovich is so convincing in his imitation of some personalities (Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, Alfred Hitchcock etc.) that simply watching the photos evokes a certain feeling not unlike the uncanny-valley effect. Have a look at the pictures yourself and from your own opinion. :)
Albert Watson / Alfred Hitchcock (1973), 2014