Created by quchen on 30/06/2008
Last updated: 12/03/10 at 16:39
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Black and White photography is among
one of the most striking forms. Photos sans color require an
enhanced use of lighting, shadows, and subject focus.
Black and white photography brings out details usually
overlooked in standard color photos. Subject studies is the
discipline of concentration on one particular subject. Not quite
still-lifes, though they share some similar qualities, subject
studies focus on one particular object in view.
Take a look below for 31 stunning
black and white subject study photos on Imagekind.
Pear in Porcelain by Dawn LeBlanc
Baby´s got Back by Andreas Stridsberg
Ready to Bloom by Tim Zeipekis
Resilience by Ari Bixhorn
Mount Rainer by Frank Melchior
Feather Study by Keith Dotson
Cotton-top Tamarin by Mihkel Maripuu
salute to the sun by Antje Bormann
Beach Ballerina by Nina Bradica
Subtle by Terry Shuck
Lonely Tree on a Barren Hill by Keith Dotson
Cool Chick by Dapixara Black White Photography
Column by Jean-Francois Dupuis
Flower on My Bedside Table by Ricardo Segovia
Pelican Model Behaviour II by Diana Claxton
Egret by Scott Hansen
You said you loved me by Anna Theodora
Elk Crossing by Santomarco Photography
End of the pier by David King
Sad Labrador by Justin Paget
The Wait by Maggie Dee
Giants Ring, Belfast by Chris McKeown
Wellington by Ben Ryan
Calla Lily by Chris Anderson
The Will of the King by Larry Bohlin
Stardust I by Gigja Einarsdottir
Wet Shaking Labrador by Justin Paget
My Lost Love by Lynsey Weatherspoon
Hunter from the Deep by Myles Teo
old elephant, amboseli national park, kenya by Konstantin
Wild Horses by Heather Rivet
To get the softly diffused
light in this photo, I waited for an overcast sky. (Photo by Steve
With spring on the horizon in some
parts of the world, you may be thinking about photographing some
beautiful wildflowers soon. So, here are 8 tips to get you
1. Use a tripod
Using a tripod will help you get
sharper photos by ensuring your camera doesn’t move. But, the
tripod helps in another way too: it forces you to be more careful
about your composition.
When you handhold your camera,
there’s a tendency to just snap away, but when you add the tripod,
you’ll spend more time thinking about your composition and ensuring
your camera is in a very precise position.
2. Wait for an overcast or cloudy
Direct sunlight will cast harsh
shadows and create bright highlights on wildflowers, causing a
disaster for exposure.
So, the best time to photograph
wildflowers is on an overcast day, because the clouds act as the
perfect light diffuser: creating the most perfectly balanced light
you can get.
If you can’t wait for an overcast
day, cloudy days are good too: just wait for a cloud to cover the
sun before taking your shot
3. Position your camera’s sensor
so it’s parallel to the most important plane of the flower
With every photo, you only get one
geometrical plane of complete sharpness. So, to maximize sharpness
in your wildflower photos, make sure your sensor is parallel to the
flower’s most important plane, and carefully focus your lens on
To maximize sharpness in
this photo, I carefully positioned my camera so the sensor was
parallel to the flower's petals. (Photo by Steve Berardi)
4. Use a shutter speed of 1/200
The most annoying problem you’ll
face when photographing wildflowers is battling the wind. So, to
help freeze the action of wildflowers (which never seem to sit
completely still!), use a fast shutter of at least 1/200 sec. You
may need to increase your ISO to 200 or 400 to get this fast of a
5. Find a flower with a good
When photographing wildflowers,
it’s easy to focus all your attention on the beautiful flowers and
forget about the background. But, a good background will help your
image by drawing more attention to your subject. So, take the time
to find a flower with a good background: one that’s far away (to
help get it out of focus), contrasts well with the flower, and has
no distracting elements.
6. Find a flower that’s in good
Closely inspect each flower before
photographing it, to ensure it’s not missing petals or has poor
color. Some individual flowers of the same species will be more
saturated in color than other individuals, so take some time to
find that “perfect flower.”
7. Use a telephoto lens with a
short minimum focus distance
A long lens will help you isolate
a sharp flower against an out-of-focus background. But, make sure
you use one with a short minimum focus distance (5 ft or less), to
ensure you can fill the frame with the flower. You can use an
extension tube to make your lens focus even closer for the smaller
8 – Use the RGB histogram to
check exposure, NOT the LCD preview
When you’re outside, images on
your camera’s LCD will appear much brighter than they actually are.
So, to ensure you have a good exposure, rely on the RGB histogram.
The histogram is a whole other topic by itself, but the basic idea
is to use the histogram to ensure you’re not overexposing any of
the color channels in your photo.
Remember to leave no trace…
When photographing wildflowers (or
anything in nature), it’s also important to leave no trace. That
means, be careful not to step on the flowers, or disturb the ground
around them (many flowers depend on the soil structure around
them). And, it may be tempting to attach some kind of clip to
flowers to keep from swaying in the wind, but please avoid this
because it could potentially kill the flower.
So, enjoy the wildflowers, take
lots of photos, but leave them just as you found them, so they can
be enjoyed by the next person (or butterfly, heh) too :)
Invitation to Leica
A Lamborghini speeds by as I cross
Berkley Square, on my way to the Leica showroom in the heart of
Mayfair, central London. I have received an invite to view the new
Leica S2 medium format digital camera. I don’t make a habit of
attending to these events, but I thought, this being Leica, and,
their first medium format pro-camera with autofocus, it might be
worth a squint.
The showroom is down a small mews, and the interior
is reminiscent of an exclusive jewellery store. The lighting is
subdued, and glass cases display gift boxes containing brightly
coloured, beautifully crafted Leica cameras and lenses. I am
ushered upstairs to the studio on the first floor where I have my
first glimpse of the camera.
Leica S2 Body
The body is beautifully minimal
and owes more to the looks of a 35mm camera than a medium format,
reminding me of my first Pentax 67. It feels solid to hold and is
pleasingly devoid of endless fiddly buttons and dials. The controls
are simplicity itself, thankfully, and buck the trend of most
over-complex digital cameras of the moment. There is a traditional
shutter dial on the top, next to an easy to read OLED. This
highlights each function in a different colour. On the back is the
LED screen surrounded by four long buttons similar to the original
phase one backs that I often use on shoots. These control the
cameras menu functions and feel logical to use. This probably has
something to do with my familiarity with the Phase One system
Shooting with the Leica S2
The camera is tethered (by a
USB cable) to a computer. It has a four pin connection which seems
solid and reliable, unlike the usbs of most medium format backs
which always seem to work loose without a little gaffer tape. It
does also have two card slots, this means you can shoot raw to one
and jpgs to another. My photo model, the camera demonstrator, waits
for me to take the shot. I focus, release the shutter, the file
uploads, and the result appears on the 32” apple monitor.
The download time is a little
slow, but then this is a medium format, in tethered shooting mode.
The auto focus is as good as it gets with a medium format but is
noisier than I would expect from such a quality camera. The results
though are spectacular. The resolution is 37.9 megapixels and the
3:2 sensor (the same format as a 35mm) is 56% larger than any full
frame 35mm camera. I didn’t have time to do any in depth analysis
of any of the specifications and lenses but from what I could see
this camera shoots quality. This is no doubt down the Kodak sensor
and the Leica lens.
At the moment Leica only make four
lenses for the S2. These are a 35mm, 70mm, and 120mm, all 2.5 and a
180mm 3.5. They make two versions, one that works with the camera’s
focal shutter and another pricier version with a leaf shutter. This
is also reminiscent of the old Pentax. The leaf shutter version
means you can sync with flash up to 1/500. This is something I use
all the time with my photography so I’d have to stump up the extra
cash! They do have plans to increase the range but when this will
happen I am not sure.
The lenses as you would expect feel solid. They match the
simplicity of the camera body and as a package the whole product
Would I buy the Leica S2?
I would want to spend some time
with this camera before I decided to buy it. I only took a couple
of shots in the studio and haven’t yet done any extensive or
detailed analysis of it. Having said that I love the styling and
simplicity of this kit. I also love the fact that this is a medium
format in a 35mm body. I guess the only disadvantage of this is
that if you need a back up camera you need a second body and not
just another back like the phase one system. Having said that it
does feel solid, reliable and has great image quality.
Did I mention the price?
Oh yes! The price! The camera body
will set you back
over $20,000 and each lens is around $5,000. Well what did you
expect? This is a Leica and it is medium format. The quality is
definitely far superior to any 35mm camera but whether or not it is
worth this price tag probably depends on the size of your pockets
and for whom you are shooting, but having said that I could
definitely see myself working with this piece of kit.
Photo by Mr Bones - No exposure settings supplied
Today, as a followup to
our post earlier in the week
A Beginners Guide to Capturing Motion in Your Photography I
want to post a series of posts from Flickr that all illustrate a
variation on the same theme – movement.
The following shots are
all of moving subjects where the photographer has made the choice
to set their camera to capture the movement as blur rather than
freezing it. This is in all cases by choosing (or letting the
camera choose) a ’slow’ shutter speed (although by slow you’ll see
that the speeds (noted under each image) vary from
anything from 1/30 second to up to 40 minutes).
Photo by Ben McLeod – Shutter Speed – 8 seconds
Photo by zane&inzane - Exposure Time – 10
Photo by PhotoToasty – Composition of 3 images at shutter
speeds of between 1.6 seconds and 25 seconds
Photo by Amnemona – No exposure settings give
Photo by Sara Heinrichs – Exposure Time: 20 seconds
Photo by Mace2000 – 50 second exposure time
Photo by WisDoc – Shutter Speed – 1/30
Photo by Mace2000 – Shutter Speed – 50 seconds
Photo by Wam Mosely – Shutter speed – 4/5 of a second
Photo by Mace2000 – Exposure Time – 43 seconds
Photo by jon madison – Exposure – photographer estimates
somewhere between 30-40 minutes
Photo by thorinside – Shutter Speed – 13 seconds
Photo by tschnitzlein – No Exposure information given
We start from this original
picture, that my good friend Nicalai took on a night in Milano.
First, we want to add some cool night tint to this. So, we lower
the Temperature a bit, let’s say -32 and play with the other
sliders as you see fit.
Don’t worry about the settings, you can’t do much wrong. We’ll
return to Lightroom later and correct everything that doesn’t look
right. Always remember the great J key, that can show you when you
are losing details in high- lights and shadows.
First of all, we start into
Lightroom. I am a big fan of it. The Lightroom 3 beta is free on
Adobe, so you might want to download that. It’s a great, great tool
that makes your job easier.
Now export it into Photoshop.
Here, don’t forget to make it 8 bits / Channel, so you can save it
as a jpeg. Save this image, with your Lightroom adjustments.
Overexpose and underexpose the
image by 2 points and save each version with a different name, so
now you have 3 images with different exposures [+2,0,-2]
Now open Photomatix, hit Generate
HDR, browse and select your 3 photos. Specify exposure manually, if
Photomatix does not auto-detect it. I use these settings, but you
probably shouldn’t worry about this.
Click OK and now you will see a
crappy image. This is because your monitor cannot display HDR.
Don’t worry about it, it’s alright. Hit the Tone Mapping button on
Now, for the settings, you should
keep Strength at 100%, the Color Saturation at 40-60 [I keep it at
50 for this specific image], just try not to over-saturate the
image. You can add saturation at any time later. For the Light
Smoothing, it should be 4 or 5, any less will give you a very
surrealistic image that is not very cool. Play with Luminosity as
you see fit.
Be careful about the histogram you
see there, so you have it inside the frame, if it bleeds out,
you’re losing light. Shout out to Trey Ratcliff for teaching me
that. For the other settings, Tone, Color, Micro and S/H, play with
them as your eye sees fit. There should be no right and wrong as
you try not to overdo things. I usually play only with the white
and black point and leave the rest on default. Hit Process and save
Now comes the part when you have
to work a little, that part where the difference is made between
all those fake HDRs generated by plugins and the real thing. Bring
all 4 images into Photoshop and align them on top of each other,
with the HDR on top. I usually have my -2 layer under my HDR, my +2
and then my 0 in the end. I don’t think this makes a huge
Add a mask on the top layer, using
that button below the Layers panel. With a 10-50 black soft brush,
start painting on the layer mask, so that the -2 shines through.
For this picture, paint the ground and the buildings, so you add a
little more depth to the shadows. Also, if those street lights are
too strong for your taste, paint on them, too. When done, just
merge the 2 layers, CTRL+E, and add a mask to the new layer, that
has the +2 layer beneath it. In the same way you did above, bring
some highlights in now, Don’t worry about mistaking, since you are
painting on a mask and you can always add back by using a white
brush. If you don’t like merging the layers, create a duplicate and
hide it, before merging it, just so you work non-destructively at
any time. I hope this makes sense.
Continue until you flatten the
whole image. Now you should use a software like Noiseware
Professional or the old fashioned G. Blur, cause HDR’s tend to
create tons of noise.
In the end, bring your picture
into Lightroom again for final adjustments (maybe some exposure or
If you’re still not satisfied
completely, bring it again into Photoshop and do some dodging and
burning with a soft low opacity brush. Or create a new layer above,
set it to overlay, 30% opacity, and paint with a soft white brush
for highlights and black for shadows.
Let your creativity run wild now!
A Nightmare on Elm Street Trailer 2 in HD
Trailer Park Movies |
Pentax Optio W90
The compass-inspired print around the lens of the Pentax Optio W90 ($330) isn't just for looks:
it's one of the most rugged digicams around. The W90 is Pentax's
11th-generation waterproof digital camera, and offers water
protection down to 20 feet, shock protection to four feet,
weatherproofing for solid operation in sub-freezing temperatures,
dustpoofing, a 12.1-megapixel sensor with 5x optical zoom lens, a
2.7-inch LCD, a digital microscope with LED lens for macro use,
720p HD video capture, Pixel Track Shake Reduction, and an HDMI
port that makes it easy to share photos of your adventures. And we
really hope that's just mud.
Landscape photography can provide some of the most
awe-inspiring photos out there. But doing it well is the key.
Anyone can take a snapshot on their vacation, but it takes a
talented photographer (a true artist!) to capture the scene.
Lighting, angle, crop, lens, and post processing all play a part in
the final image. Combining the various elements together is what
makes these 25 landscape photos truly outstanding.
Winter Dusk and Angel's Landing Zion
National Park by James Crotty
Sunflower Moon 1 by Jim Crotty
Change of Direction by James Neeley
Break in the Storm by James Neeley
Mount Gould in Morning Light by James
Rainier Alpenglow by Mike Dawson
Rise against the storm by Michael
The Tree by Terry Shuck
North Gateway Rock by Marcus Panek
::HDR-Vertorama:: Shine On You!!! by
Evening Shore by Barbara Brown
Night At Owachomo Bridge by John
The Advance of Light by James Neeley
Mobius Arch #6 by Inge Johnsson
La Salinas - Isle De Margarita by Rob
Battery Point Lighthouse by Ken
The Forest Is Dreaming by Janel
Take You There by Janel Kaufman
Toco Rock by Gregory Scott
Toco Sunrise by Gregory Scott
Last purple sky ~HDRI~ by RATEL
Summer sunset ~HDRI~ by RATEL JULIEN
Zen Tree by Ben Ryan
The Last Best Place by Janel Kaufman
Home On The Range by Janel Kaufman
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
US: $4999 [check
US: $5199 [check
• 23.4 x 15.6 mm CMOS
• 16.1 million effective pixels
• 17 million total pixels
• 36 x 23.9 mm CMOS
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• 12.98 million total pixels
• Low pass filter vibration
• Dust data removal (requires Digital Photo Professional)
• Low pass filter vibration
• Dust reference image (requires Capture NX2)
Native image size
4256 x 2832
1080p @ 30, 25 or 24 fps, 720p at 60 or
720p @ 24 fps
• RAW/sRAW (14 bit)
• JPEG (10 levels)
• RAW (lossless or lossy comp, 12 or 14
• JPEG (3 levels)
• 45 area TTL
• 39 Cross-type sensors (with F2.8 or faster lenses when points are
• Range: -1 to +18 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view/video mode
• 51 area TTL
• 15 Cross-type sensors (with F5.6 or faster lenses, at all
• Range: -1 to +19 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view/video mode
Via external flash
• 63 zone sensor
• 0 - 20 EV working range
pixel RGB sensor
• 0 - 20 EV working range
1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
• ISO 100 - 12800
(extendable to 50-102,400
• ISO 200 - 12,800
(extendable to 100-102,400 equiv)
Yes, restricted to ISO range chosen for
User definable maximum ISO and minimum
High- ISO NR
Yes (4 levels)
Yes (4 levels)
• 30 - 1/8000 sec / Bulb
• 1/250 sec Flash sync
• 30 - 1/8000 sec / Bulb
• 1/250 sec Flash sync
10 fps at full resolution
9 fps (up to 11 fps in DX format or manual
• Eyepoint 20 mm
• Frame coverage 100%
• Magnification approx 0.76x (with 50mm lens)
• Eyepoint 18mm
• Frame coverage 100%
• Magnification approx 0.7x (with 50mm lens)
• 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 920,000 dots
• 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 920,000 dots
• Auto Lighting Optimizer
• New Servo II AF system
• Orientation linked AF points
• Custom 'My Menu'
• 'Silent' single frame advance
• On-demand electronic level
• GPS with optional GP-1
• In-camera RAW conversion
• Custom 'My Menu'
• 'Quiet' single frame advance
• Compact Flash/SD/SDHC card
• Dual Compact Flash card slots
• ZoomBrowser EX
• EOS Utility
• Digital Photo Professional
• Nikon Transfer
156 x 157 x 80 mm (6.2 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in)
Weight (no batt)
1180 g (2.6 lb)
1240 g (2.7 lb)
Image by Today is a good day
Here is a quick quote that caught
my attention today when talking to a friend who is a landscape
“Photograph the light not the
His theory is that it’s the light
not the actual subjects in a scene that can make or break a
While I’m not sure I’d throw out
the scene completely (and neither would my friend I’m sure) I think
he’s onto something.
Different kinds of light can
completely transform a scene from something that you might not take
a second look at to something that takes your breath away.
Here’s a few shots which I think
illustrate his point pretty well
Image by ESOX LUCIUS
Image by -RobW-
Image by carlos jm
Image by |ash|
Image by peter bowers
Image by Fort Photo
If you’re a keen photographer,
chances are that you publish some of your photos to Flickr for
sharing with friends and family. One of the disadvantages of
Lightroom 2is that it does
not come with a built in tool for publishing direct to Flickr
although this has been addressed in Lightroom 3 which does offer
There are, however, tools like
Jeffrey Friedl’s Lightroom plug-in that you can use to do the job.
Here’s how it works:
To download the tool, visit
and locate the tool for your version of Lightroom. There are
different downloads for Lightroom 1 and Lightroom 2 so get the
Download the zip file which, if
you are using Lightroom 2 is via a link in the top right hand
corner of the screen.
Unzip the downloaded file and,
when you do, you will see a .LRPlugin folder inside the zip
You need the entire contents of
this folder so drag and drop the entire folder from your Downloads
folder into the place where you plan to keep it long term.
Lightroom isn’t fussy about where
you place your plug-ins but it makes good sense to place them all
in a central location where it is easy for you to find them. I
suggest you place it nearby your Lightroom folder or in your
Documents folder where it will be included in your regular system
Now return to Lightroom and choose
File > Plug-in Manager. This opens the Plug-in
Manager dialog where you install your Lightroom plug-ins. Click Add
and navigate to the folder that you stored the .lrplugin folder.
Click the folder to select it and click Ok.
Click Update if prompted to update
your catalog to support the plug-in. A dialog will appear with more
instructions in it. Read the information and click Ok when you are
The Plug-in will be listed in the
plug-in list so click Done to exit the dialog.
Now select a few images to upload
to Flickr. Right click one of the selected images and choose Export
At the very top of the dialog you
will see the Files on disk heading, click this panel and locate the
Flickr (Jeffrey’s) option in the list.
Go ahead and (ignoring the Export
Location settings) complete the other areas of the Export dialog as
you would for any export task.
Pay particular attention to the
file names, file format and quality because, when you click to
Export the files they are sent direct to Flickr.
If you plan to resize the images
select the Image Sizing options and choose the desired option.
Click the Authenticate to Flickr
button at the top of the dialog. You only need do this the first
time you upload images. Your browser will open and you should sign
in using your Flickr log-in and password.
When prompted, click the second
Next button to authenticate the connection then click Ok, I’ll
authorize it if you are happy with the conditions displayed.
Once you have done this, close
your browser, return to Lightroom and click the I’ve authenticated
at Flickr.com button to confirm you have done so.
Once you are authenticated,
additional options are available in the Export dialog. You can, for
example, select the photosets for the images and ask to view the
Flickr photoset when uploading is complete.
You can also set Licence types for
the images, add keywords and configure a range of options for
When you are done, click the
Export button to export your images to Flickr.
This Lightroom plug-in is, what is
called, donation ware. It is functional for six week and then
you’re asked to register and make a donation one cent is the
minimum PayPal fee. If you don’t register then functionality is
reduced to uploading ten images at a time.
This plug-in works well and, until
Lightroom 3 is released and you shell out the cost of upgrading to
that version it is a smart addition to your Lightroom toolkit. For
my money it makes the upload process seamless. And, because it
saves me an entire step by rolling Export from Lightroom and upload
to Flickr into a single step it represents the difference between
things being left on my to do list and tasks getting a big black
line drawn through them – and I like that!
The Old Ways by Chris Folsom
Infrared photography allows us to
see the world in a way that our naked eyes (and traditional
cameras) can not. The infrared spectrum exists beyond the spectrum
of visible light, but it is always present and can have a very
dramatic effect on your images when properly captured.
Carousel Horses by Chris Folsom
Modern digital camera sensors are
already capable of photographing in the infrared spectrum. Camera
manufacturers use a special filter on the sensor to block most (but
not all) IR light in order to improve the quality of the visible
light being recorded. Despite this, there are several options
available for capturing images in infrared:
Use a camera that includes a “night vision” mode. These cameras
generally include an infrared light to help illuminate objects in
the dark and the normal IR filter can be removed from the camera’s
sensor with the flip of a switch. Though they are generally limited
to monochrome images, the results can still be very pleasing. An
example of this type of camera is the Sony DSC-H9 which has been
out of production for about a year but had very good monochrome IR
Purchase an infrared filter for your camera. This is probably
the easiest way to try infrared photography as it doesn’t require a
particular type of camera or expensive modifications. Despite the
IR-blocking filters put in place by camera manufacturers, some
infrared light still comes through. Attaching an IR filter (such as
Hoya RM-72 to your camera will block out all visible light so
that only the infrared image is visible. The downside of this
technique is that it typically requires lengthy exposures (10
seconds or more) and thus a tripod (and some patience) is
Purchase or modify a camera to natively shoot infrared. There
are a number of companies that sell modified cameras (both compacts
and DSLR’s) that have had the infrared filter permanently removed.
Additionally, many of these companies will perform the
modifications to an existing camera that you already own. These
modified cameras are capable of photographing infrared images as
easily as most cameras capture visible light… no lengthy exposures
or special filters required. Cameras modified for infrared
photography are no longer capable of taking traditional photos
Color vs. Monochrome
As previously mentioned, cameras
using a “night vision” mode are typically only capable of
monochrome infrared images. Using traditional post-processing
techniques, these photos can be converted to a variety of tones and
contrasts… much like typical B&W image
Crystal Pool by Chris Folsom
Cameras using an IR filter or that have been specially modified
to exclusively shoot in infrared are capable of recording different
wavelengths within the IR spectrum which is interpreted as colors
by the camera sensor. These colors don’t typically have as much
variety or saturation as visible light, but the effect can still be
very interesting. Here is an example of an IR image right out of
the camera, with the normally blue skies shown as a deep red:
Red Dawn by Chris Folsom
Using software like Photoshop, the red and blue channels can be
flipped so that the colors are a little closer to what we are
traditionally used to seeing while still retaining some of the
Power Station by Chris Folsom
What makes for a good infrared photograph? There are no set
rules… one of my favorite aspects of IR is the unexpected quality
it brings to images. You are never quite sure how things will look
when captured in the infrared spectrum.
Typically though, the biggest differences happen with organic
material. Grass, trees, people… they all appear much differently in
infrared and can be particularly fun to photograph.
Ghost in the Kitchen by Chris Folsom
In a future article, I will get into more detail regarding the
IR photography process and discuss some of the post-processing
steps involved. Until then, enjoy some of the amazing infrared
photographs available on Flickr in groups like Converted Digital
Infrared Cameras and Digital
credit: Tim Caynes]
credit: Nicolas Comastri]
credit: Meyer Ardila]
credit: Stephen Sleeveface]
credit: Ingrid Opstad]
credit: Jussi-Pekka Erkkola]
credit: Flavio Chan]
credit: emics, top image via sweetbabyboy]
Full Frame becomes
Makers of Digital SLR cameras long
ago settled on the APS-C sensor, named after a small film format
that came in the late nineties and disappeared soon after. APS-C
sensors have an area less than half that of a 35mm frame – about 16
x24mm compared with 24 x36 for full frame. Kodak and Canon were the
first to use full-frame sensors in 2003 but the prices of these
cameras were quoted in 5 figures.
Advances in sensor technology, along with greatly improved
yields, have driven the cost of full frame sensors down while
megapixels went up. Nikon took until 2007 to release its first full
frame DSLR, the D3. Both the D3 and the D700 that followed it made
do with 12 megapixels, where Canon went as high as 21 for the big
SD1 Mk III and the new 5D MkII.
Sony had jumped into the full
frame market as well with the A900 late in 2008 and then the A850,
both delivering 24 megapixel detail. At US$2000, the Sony A850
became the cheapest full frame DSLR on the market, and offered 24
Much like laptops, digital cameras
are good for about 18 months after release, when they tend to drift
into rapid obsolescence. And, just like laptops, DSLRs follow
Moore’s law and double their grunt or halve their prices every year
or two. Sony forced the issue because Sony wanted to muscle in on
this lucrative market, and because Sony had the technology – it
makes the full frame sensors for Nikon.
So here we are with what look like
several affordable choices, at least on paper: the 12mp Nikon D700,
the 21mp Canon 5D MkII and the 24mp Sony a850, all for around US$
Only a year ago, Nikon launched
the D3x with its version of Sony’s 24mp sensor and a US$8,000 price
tag, and a chorus of voices shouted ‘rip-off’.
Shouting is easier than switching
with these ‘system’ cameras, as there are strings attached in the
form of expensive lenses which only fit one brand. That explains
why Nikon guru Thom Hogan penned a piece called Sony Envy, where he
offered us some ‘cold-shower’ advice along the lines that we should
focus on our shooting skill not on our shooting kits.
Make no mistake, these cameras are
serious kit. You know that from the moment you pick one up. The
three contenders pictured above each weigh a kilo without lenses
attached, or two kilos with batteries and pro-grade metal-lenses.
Their bulked-up bodies tell the world that you’re a dead-serious
photo geek since no one else would cart around a camera this
These things are loaded in other
ways too: they offer more features than a thousand faces and give
you more menu options than a Chinese restaurant. They let you shoot
umpteen frames a second at a sports carnival, and shoot without
flash on a moonlit night. What they don’t let you do is walk easy
or travel easy.
Never mind the Size
I managed to get my hands on a
Nikon D700, a solid lump made from magnesium
alloy, not plastic. It’s not too big in my long-fingered hands, but
it makes me nervous holding a camera that costs as much as this.
Clearly it’s too expensive for shooting the grand kids if it
involves rolling around the floor with them, or frolicking in the
sand on the beach. And just as clearly, the D700 is too big for
taking on leisurely walks around the harbour.
This is a serious camera for serious photography, and it
belongs to a good friend who’s a pro shooter. For him, the D700 is
a bargain because it cost half as much as a Nikon D3. The Nikon
D700 is a D3 in a more compact body, relatively speaking.
It misses out on a few tweaks like
the 4:5 aspect ratio option, a second memory card slot and 8
frames/sec continuous shooting. Instead, the D700 gets a built-in
flash, sensor cleaning and LiveView. You can read the gory details
in these excellent reviews here
Light becomes obsolete
Fewer pixels on a bigger sensor
are a good omen for minimising digital noise, and the D700 is proof
of that concept. Not long ago, ISO 3200 was a silly boast on a
camera’s menu but it’s become a realistic default option on the
D700, and even ISO 6400 produces images with very little noise.
This means that you can take shots at a dimly lit dining room table
with a shutter speed fast enough for handholding.
Nikon isn’t resting on its
laurels. The new D3S has three ‘Hi’ settings – ISO 25,600, 51,200
and 102,400 – which means we’re talking about shooting in total
darkness, taking photos of objects our eyes would never see. The
D3X with 24mp is not in the same low-light class.
High ISO isn’t just good for low
light, of course. It lets you shoot much faster in all kinds of
conditions without reaching for the tripod: in dark forests, under
stormy skies and in dim churches. And inside sports stadiums, where
the D700 shines with a continuous frame rate of 5 per second.
Regardless of the file type you choose – raw, JPEG or TIFF, 12-bit
or 14-bit, ten shots take about ten seconds to store in flash
memory. Of course, the buffer will accommodate far more JPEG files
than raw ones.
?To me, the Nikon D700 looks like the perfect all-round camera,
from landscapes to sports. 12 megapixels may be a limitation for
pro shooters who have to shoot prints that cover the side of a bus,
so they’d need to reach for a Canon or Sony or Nikon’s new 24mp D3X
or a Hasselblad.
There’s always a downside
The heft of full-frame cameras is
an obvious issue for amateur shooters, and Canon’s and Sony’s
contenders aren’t any smaller or lighter than Nikon’s. Size may be
an acceptable trade-off for those of us who still own Nikon film
lenses, which are full-frame by definition and which are granted a
new lease of life by these cameras.
If you’re starting from scratch,
APS-C sensor cameras literally stretch your dollar further because
the bodies are cheaper. Then there’s the 1.5 crop factor of what
Nikon calls ‘DX’ lenses vs ‘FX’ for full frame. FX tele-zooms get
seriously expensive over 300mm but, because of the crop factor on a
DX camera, a cheap Sigma 70-300mm FX lens becomes a 105-450 lens.
It’s a different story at the super-wide end where the crop factor
works against the smaller sensor.
If you’re eyeing off a 21 or 24mp
DSLR, you should also allow for practical considerations: for one,
your PC hardware will feel the strain, from your chipset to your
storage and backup systems. A 14-bit RAW+JPEG image will take 30MB
or more of memory card or disk space, and suddenly you need to buy
double or triple everything. These cameras give you the option of
shooting in APS-C mode, but that’s not what you bought them
The Bottom Line of the Nikon
The Nikon D700 is an envy-inducing
device, a camera of breathtaking all-round competence. It’s hard to
think of anything you could improve here, and that includes Nikon’s
class-leading ergonomics with logical menus and enough buttons to
assign your favourite functions to, and everything else falling to
hand readily. We could argue that you don’t have to be much of a
photographer to shoot great photos with a camera like this, and
that the camera isn’t the most crucial ingredient for good
photography, but we could also argue that a camera like this opens
greater creative possibilities.
It’s hard to argue with the price,
though, and it will come down some more once the D700X (or whatever
the new model is called) is announced in February 2010. The real
question is: do you need a camera this serious and this competent?
And do you want to lug around a camera this heavy? Unless you’re a
pro shooter or a very serious amateur, the answer is probably
There’s an interesting piece in
Mike Johnston’s blog about the
Sony a850 he tested recently, where he says that ‘the Sony A850
should be thought of as a medium-format digital camera in a
conventional SLR form-factor body.’ ?
The photo shows Mike holding a 20
x 30″ test print made on a wide-format printer by a colleague who
thinks ‘it looks better than a 20×30 print from 6×7 cm film.’ Mike
adds: ‘I just can’t see a 30″-wide print needing to look better,
for almost any conceivable application.’
I assume that means commercial
applications involving large format image reproduction, which has
been the traditional domain of Hasselblad and other $40,000 cameras
with larger than full frame sensors and 50mp.
It will be interesting to see what impact these 24mp DSLRs will
have on the professional market. Bear in mind that you can get
Sony’s body for $2,000, but some of the excellent Zeiss lenses cost
almost as much again so you’ll end up spending close to 5 figures
for a full system. One issue is that Sony can’t yet offer the same
wide choice of lenses Canon or Nikon does, but neither can
The Nikon D700 is
priced at Amazon at
$2,399.95 (Body Only) or
$2,952.98 with 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED IF VR Nikkor Zoom
man on break by Jordan Kologe
Pipesmoker by Emyr Pugh
ol' Bob by Robin Neilly
p273 square2 by Alexey Vronsky
La-la-la by Alexey Vronsky
Falling Hearts by Dana Daneli
Loaded by Distorted Retina
the white sheet by Lisa KC
If you shoot at mimes, should you use by
224/365 by Souphatra Xaypanya
It's that wonderful bathroom window
light by Karin Elizabeth
Day 222/365: Sad Clown by Karen
Cuando nadie me ve by Franca Franchi
untitled by Holly Henry
Carnival Chillax by Laura Ferreira
Tokyo Nights by Laura Ferreira
matters of taste by Pawel Wewiorski
farmer`s wife in front of power plant by
The Street as Graphic Novel 43 by Steve
perfume by Pawel Wewiorski
Portrait of man smoking match by Pawel
If you're the type of guy that needs more speakers in his
headphones than most people have in their home theater setups,
Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom Monitors ($1,350) are for
you. These custom-made earphones sport an absurd six individually
tuned drivers in each ear, providing the most life-like sound
possible, as well as four-way crossovers, triple-sound channels, a
newly-developed low-distortion cable, -26 dB of noise isolation, a
fancy, customized aluminum carrying case, and more.
WhyGo is a member of the BootsnAll Travel Network and, among
other travel related information, dispenses a daily photo from
reader submissions. The submissions are hand
picked and loaded monthly, making this a great site to submit to if you are so
inclined. The subject matter spans the globe
and is not only a great photo inspiration site, but very addicting
for those with wanderlust.
Gadling is another excellent travel site dishing up
daily stories and photos. The photo feed is often
taken from their Flickr pool where
Flickr members are encouraged to submit their favorite travel
photos. The pool is large for Gadling to draw
from and all posts include a bit of information about the location
or photograph itself.
Gallow – A Year In Photos
Steve’s blog chronicles the same journey most of us have
embarked upon; learning more about photography through doing
it. Currently in the middle of a Photo365
Project, he shoots daily and shares a wealthy of information about
the photos he posts. Almost every post contains a
“Lessons Learned” section which serves a good reminder of how the
basics in photography need to be followed for great results.
A mysterious site with a lot of macros and a penchant for
zombies (although they don’t figure largely into the
feed). I found this site through a Twitter search
As mentioned in the
original post, this is a great way to find others interested in
keeping their photography mojo working. A lot of
the photos are macros with a variety of subject matter.
you don’t have the time to travel to the Czech Republic every day,
this site is a must for those interested in a black and white
approach to documenting a city. Ranging from a
single picture some of the time to multiple shots telling a story
in pieces, I really enjoy the subject matter and variety presented
Vincent runs a well designed site with nothing except
his Photo365 project. His photos tend to be
contrasty and vivid with a great use of the subject matter at
hand. This site is also a pleasure to page
through for the history of his Project365
journey to date. While based in Germany, he does
travel which adds variety to this project.
Jim has been at the POTD game for while now with archives dating
back to 2007. His site is clean and easy to
navigate offering up sites from all around
Boston. He runs a Monochrome Monday feature and
has a great eye for composition and subject matter, only using
B&W techniques when it adds to the image
quality. I like the mix on his site.
Photo A Day From Planet Earth
I got in touch with Rich from A Photo a
Day From Planet Earth the old fashioned internet way; someone he
knows knew someone who sent a link that eventually brought him to
my site. Then he found
a link to my Photo Of The
Day and sent me an email. I really do like
meeting strangers in cyberspace! Rich’s site
dates back to June of 2007 and contains a wide variety of travel
and eclectic photos from all over the world. You
can also submit
photos to the Flickr Pool for inclusinon on the site, just like
The graphic design of this website perfectly complements the
fantasy world of the photographer’s vision.
Top class professional photography presented in a simple to
navigate, beautiful website.
An unusual site because it belongs to an agency rather than a
The website of world renown celebrity photographer Jason Bell. Yes,
that’s Mickey Rourke on the front page.
Simple and effective design.
A beautiful website from a master photographer. The photos are big,
bold and colourful.
A dramatic splash screen and beautifully minimalist design.
This website shows off the work of social photographer Kim Mendoza.
The music is a nice touch, what visitor fail to be convinced of
this photographer’s talent?
All the drama and explosive action of sports photography.
A bold and colourful design from one of the UK’s foremost fashion
and editorial photographers.
The warm colours of this website are unusual, and make the website
This website expands to a full screen to show off the
A beautifully designed flash based website.
Photojournalist Brent Stirton’s website grabs you on the first page
with a fast moving slideshow of some his most dramatic and hard
Burn magazine uses a blog-like design to keep the lastest content
fresh on the page. It uses a dark gray background to emphasise the
site’s logo, displayed prominantly at the top, and a large photo to
introduce the lead story.
Gavin Gough is a travel photographer currently living in Thailand.
His website is a brilliant example of self-promotion. The front
page has a small flash movie at the top and a large photo
underneath. Dig deeper into the website and there are photo
galleries showing only his best work, a blog for personal anecdotes
and tutorials, and a stock photo gallery hosted by
Timothy Allen’s website is a WordPress powered blog, slightly
corporate in nature as it’s put together in conjunction with the
BBC. The design is very effective, there is a fast moving slideshow
at the top of the front page, and below that, a moving strip of
thumbnails that are links to the latest articles. The latest
article is published underneath, and at the bottom five short
columns display links to articles on Photography, Travel, Video,
Tutorials and My Musings. The front page is designed to wow the
visitor and provide easy to follow links to all the interesting
content within the website.
A beautiful website, the reader is in no doubt that the website
belongs to a travel photographer. Navigation is clear and simple
and the photo galleries are stunning. The photographer has a small
collection of his best photos. This is very important, because the
quality of a portfolio is often judged by the weakest shot.
A very simple design that leaves the viewer no doubt what he’s
seeing. A quick glance is enough to see what the photographer does.
Navigation again clear and simple. The black background works well
with the minimalist design.
Face On Images
Photographer Les Forrester’s website is a masterpiece of simple
design. The colour scheme of dark grays and blacks, with typography
in gray, white and red is very effective. A moving slide show shows
off some of his best photos on the front page, along with a nice
introduction and the latest news.
Once you get past the splash page the simplicity and beauty of this
website becomes apparent. The photos dominate, presented against a
simple white background.
Pablo Corral Vega
Pablo Corral Vega is an established, well known photojournalist and
his website reflects the quality of his work. Note the simplicity
of the opening page design, a stunning photo at the top, the
photographer’s name above, and more links below.
Simple design from Colin Prior, a British landscape photographer. A
simple to navigate menu bar, an abstract photo that makes the
perfect backdrop for some text, and below some inviting images that
draw the visitor into the different parts of the website.
Mark Velasquez’s website features imaginative, colourful
photography, presented in a series of easy to navigate photo
galleries. One reason I like the photo gallery layout because it’s
easy to navigate, the photos are relatively small and quick to
load, and the photos are presented against a neutral gray
Sometimes, a pro photographer just needs a fantastic looking
website that displays photos and little else. SEO and speed aren’t
priorities, because the url will be given to potential clients. The
important thing is to wow the viewer. That’s what Jeremy Cowart’s
A big photo on the front page, easy to navigate links (I really
like the little windows that pop up when you mouseover the links)
and then horizontal photo galleries. Lovely!
A beautiful flash driven website. Excellent photography, a front
page slideshow to show off the work, and a music soundtrack that
seduces the viewer. A very professional design.
Open with a bang! Vincent Laforet’s website opens with his video
Reverie, a video which created so much excitement amongst the
photography world that it was downloaded over 1.5 million times the
first 10 days it was online.
Chase Jarvis is famous amongst photographers for his blog, but his
website is a masterpiece of web design. The viewer is greeted by a
large, dramatic, slideshow on the front page, and an easy to
navigate menu. The portfolio pages are spectacular, and the flash
based design looks great.
Another horizontal photo gallery, this one is interesting because
the gallery is contained within a frame. Frames are a little
outdated, but the advantage here is that the viewer can switch
between portfolios without leaving the front page. The photographer
sells fine art prints and books through the site, and the viewer is
left in no doubt that he’s an expert in his craft.
Amy Deputy Photography
Another flash based website, beautiful in its simplicity. The front
page consists of four simple square images, link text and the
photographer’s name and logo. The soft pastel colours of the photos
on the front page complement each other. The website is also
supported with a blog. Note the high quality of the portfolios. The
website makes it clear that the photographer operates at the high
end of the market.
Fine art photographer Jessica Hilltout’s website has a very nicely
designed front page, organising her work into three themes. Her
name’s displayed along the top, and the categories along the
bottom. A very simple, but effective website.
A bold, graphic image on the front page, complemented by a simple
navigation and design. A very effective portfolio presentation. All
supported by a blog. Nice, very nice.
There’s a lot to like about this website; a strong, simple front
page slideshow, beautifully presented photo galleries, and a
Fashion photographer John Wright’s front page is a masterpiece of
minimalist design. Not having a photo on the front page is a very
bold move. Like many pro photographers, download speed is
sacrificed for effect with a flash based website.
The moving thumbnails on the portfolio pages are a wonderful
Andrew F Photography
Another masterpiece of Flash web design from a pro photographer.
The opening photos are stunning, and I love the way they float up
and down. The photo galleries are a joy to navigate and view.
Bach, Cello Suites.
Starker. Mercury-Speakers Corner (three 180g LPs)
and Mercury (SACD). Starker’s incisive
performances of these intimate, introspective works for solo cello
are famously wonderful. So is the sound.
Baltic Voices I. Hillier.
Harmonia Mundi (SACD). Music for mixed
voices by six Baltic composers. Finely modulated and expressive
performances; the recording, from a Tallinn church, has abundant
Bartók, Concerto for
Orchestra. Boston, Leinsdorf. RCA (“High
recordings offer a more realistic sonic picture, both in timbre and
soundstage, of a full orchestra, and the Bostonians play with
brilliance and panache.
Bartók, Concerto for
Orchestra. Reiner, CSO. RCA-Classic Records (200g LP and SACD), JVC
(CD). Arguably the finest concertante work
of the past century. Reiner’s and Chicago Symphony’s performance—in
some of RCA’s finest sound—generates tremendous
Bartók, Divertimento for
Strings. Barshai, Moscow Chamber Orchestra. King Super Analogue
(180g LP). Written just before the Second
World War, this isn’t merely light and diverting; in the
nightmarish second movement Bartók utters a riveting scream of
horror at the coming catastrophe. The performance by Barshai and
the MCO is perhaps the most powerful on disc.
Bartók, Sonata for Two
Pianos and Percussion. Heisser, et al. Praga (multichannel
SACD). Bartok’s spiky and mysterious chamber
music masterpiece in a thrilling performance vividly rendered in
the surround sound it much deserves.
Kreutzer Sonata. Heifetz,
Smith. RCA-Cisco (180g LP). While Heifetz’s
quick tempi and flawless technique sometimes seem like mere showing
off, they rise to the level of poetry in Beethoven’s astonishingly
original, rhythmically innovative sonata. Great sound,
Beethoven, Violin Sonatas
Nos. 5 and 9. Oborin, Oistrakh. Philips-Speakers Corner (180g
LP). Another superb
Kreutzer, coupled with a wonderful Fifth,
from two more passionate but no less accomplished
Berlioz, Requiem. Atlanta,
Spano. Telarc (SACD). This fine performance
of Berlioz’s masterpiece represents Telarc’s redoubtable team not
only at their multichannel best in Atlanta but at the best this
sonic spectacular has ever sounded in recording.
Brahms, Cello Sonatas.
Starker, Sebok. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
Starker plays with his usual intelligence and strength, and
Sebok matches him note for note in these magisterial
Brahms, Violin Concerto.
Heifetz, Reiner, CSO. RCA-Classic Records (180g LP), RCA
(SACD). When this 1955 recording session was
finished, Reiner and his orchestra agreed that they had never heard
a better performance of Brahms’ concerto. Neither have we. Though
the violin is spotlighted, Heifetz’s playing makes it worthy of the
spotlight. One of the great RCAs.
Brahms, Violin Sonata No.
1. Abel, Steinberg. Wilson Audio (180g LP).
One of the best-sounding chamber music recordings ever. The
two players are palpably present in your room, their instruments
sized exactly right. Solid and direct performances of the Brahms G
Major Sonata, plus works of Debussy and Bartók.
Songs of the Auvergne. Davrath.
Vanguard-Classic (two 200g LPs). By
consensus, this 1960s recording of Canteloube’s uncannily beautiful
folk song arrangements is definitive. One of those rare instances
when the finest performance of a work just so happens to be—by a
wide margin—the best-sounding.
Concertos. Derwinger, Gergov,
Norrlands. Chesky (SACD). Enjoyable and
entertaining music that is also intelligently modern. The sound
here is demonstration class: detail aplenty yet within a
convincingly realistic sonic landscape.
Copland, Symphony No. 3.
Minnesota, Oue. Reference Recordings (CD).
The best recording since Bernstein’s of a great American
symphony. Gloriously impactful sonics.
Danses Anciennes de
Hongrie et Transylvanie. HM-Speakers Corner
(180g LP). Unusual baroque-period
instruments—the bombarde, or bagpipe, for instance—make this
collection of Eastern European dances especially
Debussy, Three Nocturnes.
Paray. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
Three lovely, languorous impressions of clouds, festivals,
and the seductive song of the sirens. Paray’s idiomatic
performances are given some of Mercury’s most exquisite
Divertimenti: Music by
Britten, Bacewicz, Bjørklund, and Bartók.
Trondheim Soloists. 2L (Music-only Blu-ray disc).
The future—perhaps—of high-resolution multichannel recording.
Highly involving, immersive surround sound perspective.
Gloryland. Anonymous Four.
Harmonia Mundi (SACD). This beautiful
program of American hymns, gospels, and folksongs is also a killer
test of a system’s ability to resolve midrange detail and to image
Hindemith, Violin Concerto.
Fuchs, Goossens, LSO. Everest-Classic Records (180g
LP). A big, tuneful concerto beautifully
played, and captured in clear, spacious, detailed, dynamic
Nobilissime Visione. Chicago
Symphony, Martinon. RCA (“High Performance” CD).
CD remaster of Hindemith’s
grand and glorious music reveals the marvelous sonics veiled on the
original-issue “Dynagroove” LP.
The Planets. Mehta, LA
Philharmonic. Decca-Speakers Corner (180g LP), Decca-JVC
(CD). Famously well-recorded rendition of
the colorful Holst warhorse, with superb timbre, dynamics, and low
Excerpts. Czech State Philharmonic,
Serebrier. Reference Recordings (HDCD).
Haunting and beautiful orchestral music from
The Cunning Little Vixen,
The Makropulos Case, and two other late
operas rendered with pristine clarity and huge dynamic
Lutoslawski, Concerto for
Orchestra. Cincinnati Symphony, Paavo Jarvi.
Telarc (multichannel SACD). Spectacular
symphonic showpiece in a sumptuous performance and you-are-there
Mahler, Symphony No. 4. San
Francisco Symhony, Tilson Thomas. SFS (multichannel
SACD). Mahler’s apotheosis of pastoral
loveliness, gorgeously played and recorded (in concert) in vivid,
immersive surround sound.
Music for Organ, Brass,
and Timpani. Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble.
Sonoma (SACD). A crack brass ensemble is
joined by organist Anthony Newman for a program ranging from
Monterverdi, Gabrieli, Bach and Handel to Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky
and Richard Strauss. The recording, from a large NYC church, is
magnificent, loaded with impact and atmosphere.
al., Witches’ Brew.
Gibson, NSOL. RCA-Classic Records (200g
LP). Orchestral showpieces
by Mussorgsky, Saint-Saëns, et al. The sound is as spectacular as
Golden Age stereo gets.
Pictures at an Exhibition.
James Boyk. Performance Recordings (CD). An
exceptionally realistic piano recording, with the same concert
performance heard from the analog mastertape and from a digital
Poulenc, Organ Concerto.
Weir/English Chamber Orchestra, Leppard. Linn
(SACD). Recorded in an English church with
organ in the rear and orchestra in front: these two powerful sound
sources convincingly energize the space from opposite directions.
Linn’s program also includes pieces by Barber and Pierre
Prokofiev, Piano Concerto
No. 3. Janis, Moscow Philharmonic. Mercury (SACD).
One of the best-ever recordings (both performance and sound)
of the most inventive and flamboyant piano concerto from the past
Concerto No. 3. Janis, Dorati, LSO. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g
LP), Mercury (SACD). Gorgeously tuneful,
ferociously challenging, unabashedly Romantic, the Rach 3 has been
assayed by most of the greats. None plays it better than Byron
Janis does here. And none gets superior sound.
Symphonic Dances. Johanos,
Dallas. Turnabout-Analogue Productions (180g LP,
CD).This, the last and best of
Rachmaninoff’s orchestral works, has an almost Prokofiev-like feel
to harmonies, dynamics, and rhythms. Johanos’ performance may not
be the very best recorded to disc, but it is one of the best
Symphonic Dances. Minnesota,
Oue. Reference Recordings
Supremely wide‑ranging and dynamic,
with powerful bass‑drum thwacks and
climaxes that open out gloriously, this is possibly Keith Johnson’s
best recording of a symphony orchestra.
Daphnis and Chloe Suite
No. 2. Minnesota, Skrowaczewski. Mobile Fidelity
Successful resurrection of a 1970s Quadraphonic recording that has
the chorus for Daphnis at the back of Minneapolis's Orchestra Hall.
A decent Bolero and several other well-executed Ravel Orchestral
works are bonuses.
Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2.
Paray/Munch. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP)/RCA, JVC
(CD). This relatively little-known Paray LP
is one of the finest Mercurys. The suites, extracted by Ravel from
his ballet for Diaghilev, are diaphanously beautiful, and so are
Argenta, LSO. Decca-Speakers Corner (180g LP),
Decca-Lasting Impressions (CD). Colorful and
exciting “Spanish” music, played with genuine exuberance by Argenta
and the LSO and recorded in some of Decca’s most vivacious
Nights. Cincinnati Pops,
Kunzel. Telarc 60657 (SACD).
Exhilarating run-throughs of orchestral staples, including
Rimsky’s Capriccio espagnole,
Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, and a
half dozen other Russian showpieces. Telarc’s most impressive
multichannel efforts originate from Cincinnati’s Music Hall, and
this is one of its very best.
Sketches. Baltimore, Zinman. Telarc
propulsive Russian EasterOverture
is the lease-breaker here. And it just might be worth it to be put
out on the street for the sheer joy of really cranking this one
Saint-Säens, Cello Concerto
No. 1. Wispelwey, Bremen. Channel Classics (SACD).
Wonderfully fluent and lyrical readings of the Saint-Säens
concerto, plus a glowing Kol Nidre
(Bruch) and two Tchaikovsky works. Spacious multichannel
sound that subtly illuminates the character of the performance
Schoenberg, Five Pieces for
Orchestra. Dorati, LSO. Mercury-Speakers Corner SR (180g LP),
Mercury (CD). A landmark of early
twentieth-century music, these five highly chromatic, intensely
evocative pieces for orchestra are a headfirst plunge into the
realms of dissonance, dream, and the unconscious. Dorati’s
performance is superb, as are Mercury’s sonics.
Quintet. Chamber Music Palisades. AIX (DVD-Audio).
A compelling performance of one of the Soviet master’s
greatest works. AIX offers “stage” and “audience” sonic
perspectives; both are excellent.
Quartet No. 8. Borodin Quartet. Decca-Speakers Corner. (180g
LP). Shostakovich’s most celebrated quartet
is intensely sad and elegiac; the Borodin Quartet plays with somber
Quartets Nos. 3, 6, and 8. Mandelring Quartet. Audite 92527
(SACD). The Mandelring Quartet nails the
unique character of each work, and gets open, airy, and dimensional
Shostakovich, Symphonies 1
and 15. Sinfonica di Milano, Caetani. ARTS
Absorbing interpretations of Shostakovich’s first and last
symphonic essays. Gorgeous sound, timbrally; spacious, with natural
scaling of individual instruments.
Sibelius, Symphony No. 2.
Royal Philharmonic, Barbirolli. Chesky (LP and
CD). Perhaps the greatest performance on
record of the glorious Finnish masterpiece, captured by sonic
wizards Wilkinson and Gerhardt at fabled Walthhamstow
Firebird Suite. Dorati, LSO.
Mercury-Classic Records (200g LP), Mercury (SACD).
Arguably Mercury’s single most beautiful recording. The sound
is stunning, and the music, taken from Stravinsky’s ballet score,
exquisite and exquisitely well played.
Firebird. Atlanta, Shaw. Telarc (CD and
SACD). A durably
exciting Firebird, captured in vivid, dynamic stereo. Way back
in the late 1970’s, Telarc was getting digital right before
everyone else started getting it wrong.
L’histoire du soldat. Bremen,
Järvi. PentaTone (SACD). Bracing renditions
of some well-known and less familiar neo-classical period
Stravinsky. The multichannel program is exceptionally
Tchaikovsky and Medtner,
Piano Concertos. Sudbin, Sao Paulo Symphony. BIS
(SACD). A Tchaikovksy First to stand beside
any in the catalogue, powerfully recorded in atmospheric sonics
that recapture the occasion.
Opera Excerpts. National
Philharmonic, Gerhardt. Chesky (CD). Popular
orchestral selections from The Ring
and Tristan and Isolde in
immediate and immensely powerful sonics. Siegfried’s funeral march
will shake walls and rumble foundations.
Valve (Tube) Preamplifier
Inputs: five line
level RCA phono, two processor/record RCA phono
Outputs: two preamp out RCA phono, two processor/record RCA
Valves used: 2x 6922 triodes
Gain: 25 dB
Maximum Output: 20V rms
Bandpass: 2Hz to more than 100kHz
Hum and Noise: 100 dB below 2.5V output
Distortion at 1.0 V output: less than .15% THD or IMD
Phase: inverts phase of all inputs at main out
Output Impedance: 100 ohms
Dimensions (WxHxD): 483x122x391mm
Net Weight: 15.9kg
Manufacturer:Conrad-Johnson Design, Inc.
Tel: +44(0)208 948 4153
1. The App Store
(iPhone apps, prices vary) What can you say about a
store--any store--that moves 2 billion products in just 16 months?
We stand in awe of Apple's trailblazing App Store, which this year
put the word app on the map, as customers flocked to
download iPhone applications by the shopping basketful.
The iPhone is far from the first
smartphone that could run third-party software. But one reason for
the success of iPhone apps is that there's a store for them. By
creating one easy-to-use marketplace for 85,000 free or (in most
cases) inexpensive programs, Apple sparked unprecedented interest
in phone software from both iPhone owners and developers.
It may seem as though an
inordinately large proportion of the items available for
downloading are dedeicated to creating fart noises, but if you cut
through the cheesy games and novelties, you'll find thousands of
innovative, thoughtfully designed apps that can make your iPhone do
things no smartphone has done before.
Site | PC World App
Voice (telephony service, free) Google Voice
gives you a single number for all of your phones to use, e-mails
you transcripts of your voicemail messages, and sports a host of
sophisticated calling features. Set up conference calls for free,
record calls, even switch phones in the middle of a call. And it's
all free. Ma Bell, eat your heart out.
3. Intel X25-M Solid State Drive
160GB (internal storage device, $500) A new
manufacturing process and a significantly lower price combine with
great performance in this top-notch SSD. This model's speedy test
results put it at the top of our chart; its price and performance
make it a compelling flash upgrade for notebook or desktop
More info |
4. Nikon D300s
(digital camera; $1770, body only) The first enthusiast
model to include high-definition video capture, this camera is a
joy to handle. Changing focus points on the D300s is extremely
easy--and the camera takes excellent photos, too. Video output
contained impressively smooth images; and the built-in microphone
picked up audio well in a crowded environment.
More info |
Twitter (social media service, free) We
loved Twitter enough last year to include it on our Top 100 list,
and it has only grown stronger since. Twitter's uncomplicated API
has led to an explosion of cool client apps and media sites that
continually expand what it can do, including robust photo and music
sharing. It's not just for pithy sentences anymore.
6. Dell Latitude Z600
(laptop, base price $1999) This superslim 16-inch laptop
unites fashion-forward design and high-tech extras--with no cords.
A 14mm-thick metallic-yet-rubbery case, a touch-inductive panel
alongside the screen that lets you summon on-screen shortcuts, and
an inductive-charging base station highlight this status symbol for
Microsoft Bing (search engine, free) What
sets Bing apart most strikingly from Microsoft's old Live Search
and from the Google and Yahoo alternatives is the way it parses and
displays search results. Whereas Google emphasizes a stark,
quick-loading design and a list of highly relevant search results,
Bing organizes its search results into Search
Categories--subdivisions such as Web, Maps, Images, and Health. In
a particular search, Bing creates Search Categories dynamically in
response to the user's query. Bing also packs some new smarts: it
attempts to figure out the searcher's intent rather than relying
heavily on matching keywords to Web documents.
8. Canon PowerShot SX200
IS (digital camera, $350) It's pocket-size only
if you have really big pockets, but the 12X-optical-zoom SX200 IS
justifies its size by delivering astonishing versatility. With full
manual controls plus a Smart Auto mode, 720p HD video recording,
very good image quality, and that powerful lens, the SX200 IS is a
budding photographer's best friend.
Full review |
9. The Beatles Rock Band by Harmonix
(game, $140 with instruments) Well, it probably should be
number nine, but this gaming experience isn't just a straight
setlist, it's a musical history lesson. As a member of the Fab
Four, you start at the Cavern Club, jam at Abbey Road, sing on
rooftops and go on trippy video experiences to an Octopus's Garden,
rocking out the entire time. Amazingly, I find myself battling my
wife--and the in-laws--for control of the mic.
More info |
Samsung LN46B750U (HDTV, $1670) This
46-inch TV turned in the best performance we've seen yet in our
tests for motion handling. Its 240Hz refresh rate certainly helped,
and the LN46B750U offers solid Web service connectivity, too. Want
a smaller TV? Samsung's 40-inch LN40B650 ($1190) delivered even
better overall image quality, and its 120Hz refresh rate put it
just behind its 46-inch cousin in performance on our motion
Full review |
Lamm Industries LL2.1 Deluxe Line
Lamm LL2.1, rear panel
Lamm Industries LL2.1 Deluxe
1.5Hz–400kHz (-3dB)Voltage gain:
7.87 + 2% or 17.92 + 0.2dB
S/N ratio (unweighted):
>84 dB (below 2V RMS
Rega P3‑24 with RB301 arm and
Exact 2 Phono Pickup
Price: $895 (turntable and arm); $595 (cartridge; $495 if purchased
with the P3-24); $1295 (turntable, arm and TT PSU power supply);
PrimaLuna DiaLogue Seven Monoblock
70Wpc, ultra-linear; 40Wpc,
10Hz to 100kHz +/-
3dBInputs: One RCAOutputs: 2-, 4-, and 8-ohm speaker
complement: Two 12AX7s; two 12AU7s; four
KT88 Input impedance:
OhmDimensions: 15.9" x 15.2" x
8.3"Weight: 63.8 lbs.
Price: $5495 per pair
Clearaudio Innovation Wood turntable with
Helius Omega Silver Ruby tonearm and Benz Ebony H cartridge; VPI
Aries turntable (TNT V platter & bearing), Graham
1.5 arm (w/2.2 bearing), and Koetsu Black cartridge;
Electrocompaniet EC 4.8 and MFA Venusian (Frankland modified)
preamps; Electrocompanient AW250-R and Quicksilver 8417 amplifiers;
Hyperion HPS-968, Quad ESL-57 (PK modified) loudspeakers; Virtual
Dynamics and Goertz cables; etc.
Conrad-Johnson ET2 linestage
Conrad-Johnson ET2 linestage preamplifier
Maximum output: 5.5Vrms
Distortion: Less than 0.1% THD
Frequency response: 2Hz to 100kHz, +0/-1dB
Weight: 15 lbs.
Dimensions: 13.75” x 19” x 3.315”
Conrad-Johnson ET2 Optional
Gain: 54 dB (high-gain option); 40 dB (low-gain option)
RIAA equalization: +/-.5dB, 20Hz to 20kHz
2733 Merrilee Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031
Final Sound 1000i
electrostatics, Esoteric MG-20, Venture Audio Excellence III
Signature, and Basszilla Platinum Edition Mk2 DIY speakers; Kuzma
Stabi Reference turntable outfitted with Graham Engineering model
2.5 tonearm and Grado Reference cartridge; Air Tight ATE-2 phono
preamplifier; PrimaLuna Eight CD player, Weiss Engineering Jason
Transport and Medea DAC, Altmann Micro Machines Attraction DAC;
Concert Fidelity CF-080 line preamplifier, Spread Spectrum
Technologies Ambrosia preamplifier, First Watt B1 buffer
preamplifier; Esoteric A-100 and Audio Space Ref. 3.1 (300B)
amplifiers; Bybee Speaker Bullets; FMS Nexus-2, Acrotec 6N and 8N
copper, Kimber Select KS-1030, Kimber KCAG interconnects; FMS Nexus
Tourbillon GMT (Aston Martin +
Edox Koenigsegg (Chronograph EDOX +
#1. Coast of Saudi Arabia (Red
Coast of Saudi Arabia
Maldives (Indian Ocean)
Portugal (Atlantic Ocean)
Hawaii (Pacific Ocean)
Italy (Mediterranean Sea)
Rhodes, Greece (Mediterranean Sea)
#7. Bora Bora
Republic (Atlantic Ocean)
Mexico (Pacific Ocean)
Vancouver, Canada (Pacific Ocean)
11. Microsoft Windows 7
(operating system, prices vary) With Windows 7, Microsoft
hopes to put the bad press from Vista behind it. Windows 7 smooths
out a number of Vista annoyances (User Account Control, anyone?)
and makes the interface cleaner and easier to work with overall
(for example, the new taskbar uses one icon per open application
instead of accumulating individual buttons for each window). It's
slightly faster than Vista, too, reversing the trend of software
upgrades yielding performance downgrades.
Core i7 (processor series, prices vary) When
Intel launched its Core i7 line of chips last fall, desktops
powered with these Nehalem-based processors quickly began to
dominate our charts of top-performing power PCs. Early tests of the
Core i7 laptop CPU point to similar results. And that's no great
surprise: Aside from possessing a bigger cache, Core i7 chips have
a Turbo Boost mode that automatically overclocks the processor when
your system needs an extra burst of speed.
More info |
Phenom II (processor series, prices vary) AMD's
latest processors can't match the raw power of Intel's Core I7
line, but they're loaded with features that enthusiasts love.
Upgrading from a Socket AM2+ processor to a Phenom II is easy and
relatively inexpensive. And you can overclock some of the chips to
an insane 6GHz or more; just make sure that your cooling is
More info |
14. Palm Pre
(smartphone, $150 with two-year Sprint contract) The Pre
wowed us with its engaging (and fun to use) WebOS software and
eye-catching hardware. Thanks to the Pre's responsive multitouch
screen, its intuitive gesture-based controls, and WebOS's beautiful
way of organizing information, this smartphone is a pleasure to
use. The keyboard may not be perfect, but that's a minor trade-off
for everything else the Pre offers.
15. Amazon Kindle 2
(e-book reader, $259) This skinnier remake of the original
Kindle boasts an improved interface and a redesigned keyboard. With
2GB of onboard storage (room for 1500 average-length books), this
reader has everything but the faint rustling of paper pages
turning. Text is crisp and tight, and the screen technology is
noticeably better than in version one. The device charges via USB,
and you can use it as a mass-storage device.
Full review |
Facebook (social media service, free)
Facebook wasn't the first social networking site, but it may be the
first one that pushed social networking into the lives of
mainstream Americans. The Facebook site is a cross between your
personal digital scrapbook, and a running discussion with your
friends. On Facebook, you can post pretty much anything about
yourself, from songs to photos to movies to religious beliefs, and
then invite your friends to check it out. It's also a great way to
reconnect with people from your past, including some you might
rather had stayed there. In any case, Facebook has undeniably
changed the way human beings interact with one another in the 21st
century. When we say goodbye to our friends, don't we now sometimes
say "See you on Facebook"?
17. HP Mini 311-1000NR
(netbook, base price $399) The first netbook to sport
nVidia's Ion platform, which marries an Intel Atom processor to a
discrete GPU produces a reasonably powerful combo that lets you run
high-def video and games.
Full review |
18. Samsung LN40B650
(HDTV, $1700) Thanks to its very good picture quality,
Internet and home network entertainment features, and general
user-friendliness, this LCD TV ranks as the best 40-42-inch HDTV
we've tested this year. The LN40B650 displays very sharp and crisp
images, and according to one judge in our testing panel, looked
"very pleasing, overall."
Full review |
Wireless MiFi 2200 (Wi-Fi card, $100 or $150 with
two-year Sprint or Verizon plan) Tired of hunting for Wi-Fi
hotspots? With the credit-card-size Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 and
a wireless broadband plan, you can create your own hotspot wherever
network coverage exists. This ultracompact Wi-Fi router lets up to
five users share bandwidth from a single mobile broadband account
via standard Wi-Fi utilities, without any special software--a real
money saver for small groups of travelers. Gadgets don't get much
cooler than this.
20. Kodak Zi8
(digital camcorder, $180) This is the first ultracompact
HD pocket camcorder to offer 1080p recording and digital image
stabilization. Test videos we shot with the Zi8 had stellar image
quality in well-lit settings. The only things holding it back are
its sometimes-slow interface and controls. Otherwise, it runs
circles around the pint-size competition.
Full review |
Image by man's pic
So you’re desperately keen to go
into wedding photography — or maybe you’ve made a start. The only
problem you’re faced with is the equipment: and there are a lot of
Firstly, the most important thing
to realize is that the camera and/or lens isn’t going to cut it on
its own; you’re not going to see a magical difference. Your
equipment can limit you, but at the end of the day it boils down to
Now, when considering a camera in
wedding photography, you need to measure up your needs and your
means. It all depends on your budget, but what if you can get it
all? Pro-grade cameras aside, let’s consider prosumer models.
For Canon and Nikon, full frame
bodies are readily available for not-too-expensive prices. Full
frame bodies are extremely useful in wedding photography because of
their low-noise capabilities, the sensor being larger. 2-3 stops
can normally be gained in a full frame body as compared to a normal
APS-C dSLR. This means that ISO 3200 can be used instead of ISO 800
and still have about the same amount of noise, and the shutter
speed can be raised two whole stops: necessary, as weddings are
normally conducted in not very bright light. If you only have one
camera, it should be a full frame body.
A short note here: you
should always get two bodies. There are two main reasons, these
being 1. backup and 2. not having to change lenses (as much). So
you could have a 24-70mm on one body, and a 70-200mm on the other,
thus covering the whole field should you need to alter your field
of view. You may not be able to buy a second body, but you can rent
one. Make sure, however, that if you’re renting equipment, be they
lenses or cameras, that you also rent them beforehand to get the
feel and experience with them first, before the actual day.
And here we come to the second body, which can be a full frame — or
an APS-C body. Why an APS-C body, if the ISO handling isn’t as
good? Because an APS-C sensor has a 1.6x or 1.5x (Canon/Nikon
respectively) crop factor, and this is applied to lenses for the
field of view. Note that while full frame lenses can be used on
‘crop’ bodies, the other way does not work (the APS-C lenses
denoted by DX or EF-S, Nikon/Canon respectively). So, by using a
70-200mm f/2.8 on a APS-C body, you effectively get around 300mm in
f/2.8 as a maximum — not bad, considering the prices of a normal
300mm f/2.8! The decision to weigh the choices for the second body
(full frame vs. APS-C) is ultimately up to you, and it isn’t an
Which is why some photographers
use three bodies. Again, renting is the wisest choice until you can
get hold of one yourself. A third body can be cumbersome to have on
yourself, and normally is stashed in a bag.
And so we come to lenses. Look to
lenses with wide aperture (large f/-numbers) as these allow more
light in. For instance, f/2.8 gains a whole stop in brightness from
f/4. The shutter speed can then be changed to a faster speed to
adapt. The ‘bread-and-butter’ lenses for a wedding photographer is
the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 (IS). With these two lenses,
you can shoot a complete wedding, from reasonably wide to telephoto
(you would obviously use the 24-70mm on a full frame body to take
advantage of the wide-angle). A lot of photographers also use an
ultra wide angle lens, such as the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. However,
lens choice is a very personal thing. While those two are enough,
some photographers have shot an entire wedding with a 50mm and that
A common question that arises is
zoom vs primes. It depends on what you are comfortable with. Zooms
tend to be slower (aperture), and the maximum for a zoom is f/2.8,
while primes go down to f/1.4, etc. A good prime kit consists of a
24mm (or wider), 50mm, 85mm and 135mm (and/or a larger telephoto).
The 85mm is not necessary, but then again, it can only take one
lens to shoot a whole wedding (not advised, however!).
Some take a mix of lenses;
different lenses for different parts of the wedding. Dance shots
and formals are normally conducted in wide angle shots, while the
ceremony might have a wide angle shot with the congregation as well
as a close up of the couple exchanging rings.
Another major decision is flash.
You can choose not to use flash or not, and the place the wedding
is being held in may have their own rules on that. However, if
you’re keen on using flash, a speedlight/speedlite is a necessity.
A SB800/900 or 580 EX II is preferable, but a SB600 or 430 EX II
will also do the trick. A diffuser or bouncer is also very helpful.
Make sure you know how to bounce and manipulate flash, as bare
flash is not always quite completely appealing.
Strobes can also be used. These or
speedlights/speedlites can be used on stands, particularly
effective during the dances. These can be wirelessly triggered
using remotes. Umbrellas and/or softboxes are also frequently
employed during formals as well.
Other things to remember:
memory cards. The most important thing is to get lots of
memory; fast cards can help if you want to capture that moment (and
not miss), using continuous shooting. Make sure you have enough
memory to cover at least 600 shots: how many gigabytes will depend
on whether you shoot RAW or not, and the megapixel count of your
tripod/monopod. These are absolutely vital, but they do
help. Some photographers choose to employ both a monopod and a
tripod, and some simply use one or the other.
remote shutter release. Use this with the tripod for the
formals for more stability
lens cleaning materials. Brushes, lens pens… whatever
you use to clean your lenses, bring them along. You never know what
duct tape. Yes, it’s true: if it can’t be fixed with
duct tape, it can’t be fixed at all! If not, duct tape is still
handy to have along
We all have shot dark
underexposed photos at one time or another. Blame it on the
lighting or the flash, such photos are common. Luckily, Photoshop
provides you with amazing abilities when correcting photos like
There are many
ways you can lighten dark photos in Photoshop. In fact, there are
usually many ways to achieve a particular results when working with
Photoshop. The one you eventually choose, would depend on the photo
and your level of expertise in Photoshop. It involves a bit of
trial and error and some experimentation. Here are some techniques
that I use often when brightening a dark photograph.
As an example
this is the image we will be working with. Our objective is to
lighten the background and bring back some details in the
foreground as well.
Ready? Let’s get
The name says it
all. To use brightness and contrast:
Open up the photo in Photoshop.
I always like to duplicate the layer before applying any
adjustments, just in case I go too far and make a mistake, the
original image isn’t affected. Press Ctrl + J or Cmd +J to
duplicate the layer
Go to Image >
Adjustments > Brightness and Contrast and play with
the sliders a bit, till you get the desired result.
New users would
be tempted to use brightness slider to lighten their dark
photographs. While it is easy to use, it only does what I would
call a fairly good job of lightening your photos. Any time
you are find yourself pushing the brightness slider too far, you
are better off using any of the other mentioned ways or else it
would be evident that you brightened your photo in post
up a notch when you use Levels for this kind of work. You can
summon the levels dialog box by going to Image >
Adjustments > Levels or hitting (Ctrl/Cmd + L).
Immediately, you are greeted by a histogram. Histograms in image
processing and digital cameras let you know how many pixels or each
brightness value are distributed in your image. Having graph lean
towards towards the black slider means your photo is predominantly
dark; if the graph leans towards the white marker, that means your
photo is predominantly bright. (Things get a little more complex
when we move into individual color channels, so you can leave that
part out for the moment!)
You can use
Levels to lighten photographs as follows:
As always, feel free to duplicate the layer before you apply
any adjustments. (Ctrl/Cmd + J)
With the duplicate layer selected, hit Ctrl + L and you will
see the Levels dialog with the histogram.
Start moving the white slider under Input levels towards the
center. As previously mentioned, if you are having to move the
slider too far in to get what you want, perhaps you are better off
with one of the advanced methods.
If you looking for a drastic change you can play with the
Output Levels slider, but note that this time you would have to
move the black slider inwards to brighten.
Tip: Hold down
the Alt Key while dragging and Photoshop will show you the
overexposed areas in the photo. You want to keep this area to a
Curves gives you
the greatest control when doing a job like this. It is just a bit
complicated and not as intuitive as the brightness/contrast
sliders, but it also gives you finer control. I would suggest using
one of the presets when working with curves for the first time.
There is even a preset to lighten your photos. Go ahead and try it
Duplicate the layer and select the duplicate layer you just
Hit Ctrl/Cmd + M to show the curves dialog. Choose
“Lighter(RGB)” from the Presets drop down.
You will notice slight brightening in your photo, if that is a
little less and you need to lighten more, just click on the square
that appears on the curve and while holding the click down, drag
As you move further from the baseline
you would see your photo lighten even further.
Choose the sweet spot and click
While those are
the conventional ways you would lighten a dark photograph, there
would be tens of other ways to achieve the same inside Photoshop.
As you play around, you will discover new tricks of your own. Here
are some I find useful in similar situations:
Duplicate the layer, select the duplicate layer and change its
blend mode to screen.
Incase the effect is too intense you can lower the opacity of
the duplicated layer.
Soft Light Blend
Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) or by clicking the
layer icon on layer’s palette.
Hit the D key and press Ctrl + Backspace to fill the new layer
Now change the blend mode of the new layer to “Soft Light”
If the effect is too intense, you can lower the opacity, if its
is a little subdued you can duplicate the white layer to intensify
So there you go,
five ways to lighten your dark photographs and actually, there are
more. However, you are pretty much covered with these five. If you
have any other creative way to achieve similar results, we would
love to know about them. Let us know via comments!
Photo by wvs – 10mm
Photo by petecarr – 10mm
Photo by 10 Ninjas Steve – 11mm
Photo by wildpianist
Photo by Jrtippins – 10mm
Photo by gari.baldi – 10mm
Photo by gari.baldi – 10mm
Photo by shoothead – 10mm
Photo by Éole – 10mm
Photo by El Fotopakismo – 10mm
Photo by J. Star – 10mm
Photo by gari.baldi – 10-20mm
Photo by gari.baldi – 10mm
Photo by antiguan_life
Photo by .m for matthijs – 12mm
Photo by ttstam – 10mm
Photo by mangabanane – 10mm
Pass Laboratories INT-30A Class A
At the Consumer Electronics Show
2010, Foresthill, CA-based Pass Laboratories plans to formally
introduce its newest integrated amplifier, the 30 Wpc INT-30A,
described as a “no-nonsense, user-friendly amplifier (that)
delivers outstanding performance and a high level of user
satisfaction, exposing today’s audiophile products to a broader
spectrum of demanding consumers.” According to a company press
release, however, the INT-30A has already begun to ship to
To appreciate what makes the
INT-30A special, readers need to know that it is a Class A
amplifier whose circuit topology is based on the design Pass Lab’s
XA.5 Series of Class A power amplifiers—amplifiers that include, as
does the INT-30A, Pass’ patented Super-SymmetryTM
circuit, said to provide dramatic reductions in noise and
Long-term followers of the work of
Nelson Pass, founder and CEO of Pass Laboratories, know that the
brilliant designer has had a career-long fascination with Class A
amplifier circuits, dating back at least as far as the 1977
publication in Audio magazine of an article describing a DIY
(do-it-yourself) construction project for building a Pass-designed
20 Wpc Class A power amplifier. Those who have
heard samples of those early Pass Class A designs (such as the
legendary Pass A40 amplifier) might agree they were far ahead of
their time, offering performance that could arguably stand
comparison with some contemporary high-end components. But Pass has
never been one to rest on his laurels and in fact has been refining
and perfecting Class A amplifier designs ever since. The latest
product to benefit from this accumulated know-how is the
Relative to conventional Class A/B
amplifier designs, says the Pass press release, Class A amplifiers
such as the INT-30A offer superior dynamic range and fast response,
so that they move “easily from a black background to explosive
transients, presenting recorded materials with a sense of realism
The INT-30 is rated at 30Wpc @ 8
ohms and 60 Wpc @ 4 ohms, and includes XLR and RCA connection for
balanced and single-ended line level inputs, plus XLR and RCA
preamplifier outputs. The amp provides beefy speaker connectors
plus a five-way binding post for use as a signal ground. The
beautifully constructed INT-30A is priced at
For more information,
The Last Man on Earth,
Dr. Strangelove or: How I
Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964
Escape from New York, 1981
The Road Warrior, 1981
Twelve Monkeys, 1995
Deep Impact, 1998
Reign of Fire,
28 Days Later, 2002
After Tomorrow, 2004
Inconvenient Truth, 2006
Occasionally Ricoh has delivered
cameras to the market that are innovative, ingenious and unique.
Like the Ricoh
GR Digital III.
But who ever heard of a camera
with a fixed lens and no zoom?
To answer, you have only to look
at the major companies with their DSLRs. Fine cameras you say. But
what makes them even finer is the availability of a fixed focus
The advantages are a small form
factor along with high optical quality, a lack of aberrations in a
no-zoom lens and reduced internal flare.
Ricoh GR Digital III
So, the Digital III stands alone.
Powered up, the lens extends about 22mm from the body but it is
still a relatively low profile camera. And did I tell you it has a
totally black, die-cast alloy body?
The lens is a fast f1.9 with a focal length equating to a 28mm lens
on a 35 SLR. You can access a 4x digital enlargement — but at the
expense of picture quality. Picture capture is 10.0 megapixels,
leading to a maximum image size of 3648×2736 pixels. Movie specs
are quite poor, with a maximum of only 640×480 pixels at 30fps.
However, the shutter speeds are a
revelation: all the way from a long, long 180 seconds to an
industry equaling 1/2000 second.
Exposure modes include auto,
Program AE, aperture and shutter priority plus manual. You can
choose from multi segment, centre-weighted and spot metering
Test shot: ISO 100 f8 1/25 sec.
Test shot: ISO 400 f8 1/160 sec.
Test shot: ISO 1600 f8 1/640 sec.
choose from the lowest at 100 or rack up to ISO 1600, if you need
it. I commend the absence of absurd levels like 6400 and higher,
sensitivities virtually unachievable in a compact digicam with a
small 15cm CCD. Coupled with this is its ability to apply noise
reduction at selectable ISO settings … over ISO 201, 401, etc.
there’s multi-zone and spot, plus manual and a mode called ‘snap’,
where you can preset the focus point — to 1 metre, 2.5m, 5m or
infinity — then ‘snap’ to it when you want it.
Like the earlier Ricoh CX, the new
camera has dynamic range ‘double shot’ mode that takes a pair of
exposures, then combines the correctly exposed areas from each to
make a single picture with a ‘natural’ contrast range; an ideal
helper with subjects showing an excessive brightness range.
But double shot is just one of the
camera’s scene modes; others include skew correction, to straighten
‘leaning buildings’; B&W shots of text; and here’s
where you find — oddly — movie mode.
A welcome feature is a dial lock,
preventing the mode dial from slipping in use and helping you make
secure choices of exposure modes. Auto bracketing is in the
package: the camera can take three shots, varying in exposure or
Some of these attractive tricks
are not available when RAW capture is selected. The Ricoh can
capture in two quality levels of JPEG or RAW (Adobe’s DNG format)
as well as JPEG+RAW.
There’s no optical finder but the
7.6cm LCD screen is to die for! It boasts a resolution of 920,000
pixels with a picture so sharp you could shave by it! I also found
it bright enough to frame shots, even with sunlight directly onto
its surface. One of the best.
A novel add-on is the ADJ button to rapidly tweak metering settings
or those of colour saturation (standard, vivid etc) and AF. It also
adjusts aperture at the front and/or shutter speed at the back of
And a few
There is a tilt indicator that, if you’ve never encountered one
before, will surprise at how useful it can be and keep you on the
straight and level …
Engaging macro mode is a snap: tap the macro button and you’re
in … tap it again, and you’re out!
Two to three seconds after
power-up I could begin shooting, then catch subsequent shots about
a second apart.
You would expect a single focal
length lens to be a top performer — and it is. No sign of any
Picture quality was extremely
sharp and accurately coloured.
I found the camera subject to
flare in bright conditions; that front element is very exposed!
There’s a bunch of accessories
with which you can bedeck the camera — like an external flash, a
21mm converter lens plus an optical finder. For me, I would embrace
all of these and make the Ricoh a very, very superior digicam —
All of this means that the Digital
III is a powerhouse of a camera and, while it is ostensibly a
‘point and shooter’, it could, in some situations, result in the
enthusiastic but uneducated photographer not bringing home the
Ricoh GR Digital III
Image Sensor: 10 million effective
Metering: Averaging; centre-weighted; spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 14.9mm diameter.
Memory: SD and SDHC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2736, 3648×2432,
2736×2736, 3264×2448, 2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1280×960, 640×480.
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (DNG), AVI/Motion
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 1600.
Flash: Auto, red-eye reduction, red-eye
reduction slow sync, first and second curtain sync, forced on and
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery,
Dimensions: 107.6×58x25 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 188 g (minus battery).
So I am at the airport and my laptop
has built in mobile broadband and I have a cheap roaming
subscription. Now I would like to do Internet connected stuff on my
iPhone too, but that roaming data is ridiculusly priced. Now with
WIndows 7 you can share your internet connection (nothing new) but
you can make it an access point!
With the the drivers that came with
Windows 7 for the Intel Wifi card, Windows also installs the
Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter:
To configure it use the network
shell command NETSH in Administrator elevated Command Prompt:
netsh wlan set hostednetwork
mode=allow ssid=BinkLaptop key=ChangeMe09
This configures a Wireless Lan
network with SSID “BinkLaptop” and protected with the key
Next enable Internet sharing on your
internet connected network card, in my case that is the Wirelless
Broadband modem card. Select the virtual Wifi as home networking
Disable all but IP
Next start the hosted network:
netsh wlan start hostednetwork
Voila! That’s it
Now connect your phone or other WiFi
enabled device to your Windows 7 Laptop Access Point