The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 11, Number 17 14 August 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 260th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Wondering what to do with all your vacation pictures? Bind them, that's what. We found a great little machine to make your own books at home. Then Dave makes a surprising discovery about body-based image stabilization. We get some advice about handling depth of field on a digicam before reading a new book that proposes photography as a new liberal art. Sort of a back to school issue, no?


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
P E N T A X

Introducing the new Pentax K-7 with HD Movie Capture

Classic Pentax toughness meets impressive innovations in the Pentax K-7 for both your photos and your movies. All of the control of an advanced DSLR -- shake reduction, lens flexibility, and aperture control -- in stunning HD video quality. And with a compact, magnesium-alloy body, 14.6 megapixels and industry-leading weather-resistance, it's the most inspiring Pentax ever.

Check out everything K-7 at: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?pk7

Watch videos about the K-7's features at: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?pk8

P A N A S O N I C

Awarded "2008 Camera of the Year" by Popular Photography, the Panasonic Lumix G1 incorporates the ground-breaking Micro Four Thirds System, which combines the exceptional image quality and interchangeable lenses of a dSLR camera with the smaller size and full-time live view of a compact digital camera.

The result? We're part of a completely new class of camera that is redefining the world of photography.

Learn more about Panasonic Lumix technology and find the right Lumix for you at http://www.panasonic.com/lumix.

D A T A C O L O R

SpyderCube -- Control color by balancing light

Way more than just another gray card, SpyderCube gives you spectrally neutral white balance data from multiple light sources in a single image.

SpyderCube makes your camera more intelligent! It captures in a single shot a wide range of color and exposure data. You simply use the cube in one of a series of images, adjust accordingly, save as a preset, and apply to an entire series of images to color correct in seconds.

Every SLR photographer needs a SpyderCube in their camera bag!

Learn more at http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?dcs and "Let the world debate your vision, not your color!"

U S E D   C A M E R A   B U Y E R

Sell Your Used Camera Gear to UCB!

UCB, aka Used Camera Buyer, purchases all brands and types of camera gear including Digital and Film Equipment.

Click http://www.UsedCameraBuyer.com to get a free price quote on over 10,000 items from Medium and Large format to Digital SLRs and Digital Point and Shoots. So, empty your closets of those unused cameras, lenses and accessories and turn them into cash today!

Special Offer for Imaging Resource Members: Receive an extra five percent on your quoted price. Simply include a copy of this email in the box with your equipment. Visit http://www.UsedCameraBuyer.com today!

R E A D E R S   L I K E   Y O U

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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: PhotoBook Creator Puts It All Together

(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/UNI/UNIBIND.HTM on the Web site.)

A few issues back, we recounted our experience printing a book of images to celebrate a baptism. As we said then:

"So we wanted control over production, too. And that meant using the inkjet to print the book, binding it in a stiff presentation cover using some sort of ribbon and a hole puncher. It sounds primitive, but it actually works out very nicely. You punch two holes next to each other at the top of one side of the sheet and another set at the bottom and use two thick ribbons tied in a bow to bind the pages."

That prompted a letter in the next issue about using an online service, which was not something we were inclined to do. But in our reply, we said, "We have just requested a Unibind system for review, though, that might make the binding process a bit less crafty. We'll let you know!"

We are here to let you know.

THE SYSTEM

We got our hands on the $125.99 Unibind PhotoBook Creator (http://www.myphotobookcreator.com), a resin steelbinding system made in Belgium by Peleman Industries.

The system consists of two parts:

There is a third part to the system but it isn't part of the binding itself. That's the software you use to lay out and print a book. Unibind provides My Photo Books, an 82-MB cross-platform application that does the job simply enough. Simply register your PhotoBook Creator and download the application, which runs on Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista and Mac OS X.

If you read our previous stories, you know we prefer using Apple's Pages for this sort of thing. It's fun and easy to make changes, although someone should probably write a nice book about it for people who haven't spent years of their lives pushing Quark XPress up the hill or Adobe InDesign in circles.

You can use any kind of paper you like, print on one or both sides, in any size sheet you can find a Unibind cover for. There are covers in all sorts of sizes and shapes. And, no, you can't make your own covers. They have to have a little resin and a steel spine.

A 90-day manufacturer warranty is included.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Peleman Industries Inc., a privately held manufacturer of binding, laminating and presentation products was founded in 1939. Headquartered in Puurs, Belgium, the company opened its U.S. corporate office in Alpharetta in 1999. Unibind products are distributed on six continents in more than 120 countries.

The company's binding products are the result of over 30 years of research and development of unique binding technologies including resin steelbinding, punch steelbinding and staple steelbinding systems.

Based in Alpharetta, Ga., Unibind Inc. (http:/www.unibind.com) is the North American arm of Peleman Industries. The Unibind PhotoBook is the company's first product designed specifically for individual users rather than businesses.

THE PROCESS

Creating your book is actually the hard part, as it should be. But once you've printed something you want to bind, Unibind makes binding the simple part.

Installing the PhotoBook Creator isn't much work. You take it out of the box and remove the metal washer on the magnetic strip that forms the bed on the unit. It's there to secure the magnet during shipping.

With the washer removed, just plug in the PhotoBook Creator. You do need a three-prong outlet and you should not try to circumvent that requirement even though the unit draws only 1.5 amps and 175 watts.

Next, grab a Unibind hardback cover and open it up. Tap your printouts into alignment and slip them into the cover. Make sure they stayed in alignment and that there's an even border all around the book cover.

Some reviewers confessed that they bound the pages together with a paper clip or put a rubber band around the cover to keep everything together. But we found this really wasn't necessary and can prevent a good seal between the resin and the pages. Let gravity pull the sheets into the resin.

Then just drop the book, spine down, into the PhotoBook Creator. Don't hold it, let it sit there.

There's no Power switch but the magnetic switch in the unit is activated by the steel binding in the cover. As soon as it does, the unit's light comes on in red to confirm the binding cycle is in progress. Which means the resin is being heated up and the paper pages of your book are gradually sinking into it.

While the unit doesn't get hot enough to scorch the linen cover, we had no more inclination to touch it than to test a hot iron. We did hover over it and found it was quite warm if not scorching.

After just about 90 seconds, the light will turn green indicating the unit is cooling down and the resin is hardening, sealing the pages into the cover. Let the book sit in the unit with the green light for at least two minutes before you remove it. Green doesn't mean the book is done. It just means it has stopped warming the resin and is letting it cool. Be sure to let it cool completely.

When you do remove it, you've got a very nicely bound book.

If you don't have a very nicely bound book, just drop it back into the unit, reheat, remove the pages and try again. Our first attempt came out perfectly, so we didn't have to bother. It's really very easy.

But because you can undo the binding as easily as you set it, it's perfect for projects that require some revision (like everything we do around here).

OUR PROJECT

We actually did use the product to bind a book we made. Joyce had taken her digicam home to visit the family for a week (furloughs are good for something) and returned with a card full of images. She took a jet lag-inspired nap and we grabbed the card from her camera.

There were a batch of photos from two parties that cried out to be printed. And they cried out to be printed in groups of two or three.

Pages made that easy. Just drag the images to the page. Apply a photo border (with a nice shadow smart enough to modify itself if it falls over another border) and give it a little rotation as if you just dropped the image on the page. Crop as necessary. We even optimized a few of the images a bit.

We had selected a landscape cover so we laid the pages out that way, which made sense in an irrefutable way. For the cover, which had a landscape cutout, we simply put one signature image (a rainbow over Lake George in New York) on the page large enough to cover the cutout and added a little type over the image to mark the occasion. You know, a title page.

It's hard to convey how much fun it is to work in Pages. We really liked not only what we'd done but how we did it. And Joyce was still snoozing.

We printed the book on 10 pages of plain but high quality paper. That took longer than we liked, but it always does. When the sheets were out of the printer, we jogged them together, flipped through them to make sure we had them in the right order and slipped them into the Unibind cover.

We checked to make sure that we had centered them on the binding and that the cover window showed our signature image properly. Oops, it didn't. We'd rotated that image and it had the horizon in it, so it looked crooked. We quickly went back into Pages, straightened the image and reprinted it. When we replaced the page, all was well.

We plugged in the PhotoBook Creater and dropped the assembled book into the unit. The light turned red, warmed the resin for a couple of minutes and then turned green. When the cover was cool to the touch, we removed it from the unit and flipped through the pages.

It seemed like the only thing to do was put it on the coffee table, so we did. When Joyce woke up from her nap, she thought she was still dreaming. A book of her trip! Her favorite pictures! Everyone will want one, she said.

You're dreaming, we pointed out.

SUPPLIES

Online companies selling the unit include Adorama (http://www.adorama.com), the Digital Scrapbook Place (http://digitalscrapbookplace.com), Samy's (http://www.samys.com) and Target (http://www.target.com). It's cheaper to buy the kit with the unit at Adorama or Samy's, where it's $99.95, than at Digital Scrapbook Place, where it's $125.99. Even cheaper is Target's $69.99 online price. But there are a number of kits available with different combinations of books and paper, so be sure to read the product description when ordering.

There are a wide variety of covers made for the unit but you'll have to hunt them down. Sizes include lettersize, 8x10, 5x7, 4x6, 12x12 and 8x8. All of those come in black or white linen. Lettersize covers come in metallic blue, metallic silver, metallic pink and several leathers. Spine sizes also vary with 5x7 and 4x6 covers in 3mm or 5mm sizes and everything else in 3, 5, 7 and 9mm sizes.

Lettersize covers feature a photo window cut centered in the cover in various sizes.

Twenty pound plain paper from 10 to 25 sheets will fill a 3mm cover, 25 to 40 sheets a 5mm cover, 40 to 55 sheets a 7mm cover and 55 to 75 sheets a 9mm cover. Photo paper, which is thicker runs 6-13 for 3mm, 13-20 for 5mm, 20-27 for 7mm and 27-35 for 9mm covers.

At Adorama, lettersize, black linen or white pearl covers with a picture window are $19.99 for a pack of two in either portrait or landscape format. They're 5mm thick and hold up to 40 pages of regular paper.

Square 8x8 covers in black or white linen are $7.99 at Digital Scrapbook Place. 12x12 covers are $9.99.

The company said that custom covers are also available. The press kit we received has some lovely foil-stamped samples. You can also personalize the covers with paints, stickers, stamped and paper craft.

Most online options don't offer the full line of covers, but LexJeet (http://www.lexjet.com) sells ten packs of the windowed landscape book covers for $80 to $89 in various hard-to-find sizes and covers.

Unibind's green PhotoBook covers are manufactured with a natural cover of 100 percent cotton-flax, made from natural and recycled materials. The company, in fact, is quite proud of its environmental initiatives.

"Peleman Industries Worldwide's mission was always to be 'green,'" said Brigitte Peleman-Vantieghem, CEO of Unibind North America. "An example is our commitment to environmental ethics. Thirty-five percent of our products sold are made with recycled materials, and all of our office building's roofs in Belgium are being solar-paneled. In addition, we have implemented recycling programs at both our Belgium and U.S. operations."

CAVEATS

The only caution we could come up with is that the binding system will not accommodate the Great American Novel. The very most you can cram into a 9mm cover is 75 sheets of plain paper.

The heated resin does tend to wrinkle the pages slightly at the binding edge but that didn't really bother us. We've seen paperbacks with glued bindings that were worse. So it isn't just about presentation. It's a working book.

At about $10 each for a lettersize cover, they aren't inexpensive. But you can make half a dozen books for what it would cost to do just one with a commercial service. Roughly speaking.

Which is probably another thing to watch out for. One will not be enough. Show one of these to someone, confess you made it at home and they'll want one. That's happened here with Joyce's photo book. We've resorted to hiding it under the sofa cushions when we have company now.

CONCLUSION

Our baptism project relied on a handmade cover of handmade paper bound with craft twine. We can't tell you how we sweated over the prototype and drew deep breaths as we precisely cut and carefully punched the final. It was, nevertheless, a nice approach for a personal book.

But the book we made of Joyce's trip was a very classy presentation for her photos. The black linen cover looks great and the photo window is an excellent alternative to titling the cover. If we had a dozen of these, they'd be quick to flip through to find what we were looking for.

And it was no sweat. Just jog the sheets together, drop them into the cover and let the PhotoBook Creater seal them into the resin of the attractive cover. That makes it a winner in our book.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Body Image Stabilization on the Olympus E-520 dSLR

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_olympuse520/IS_Test_Olympus_E-520_SLR_Body.htm on the Web site.)

Olympus was a pioneer of sensor-based image stabilization systems, so it was with great interest that we evaluated the IS performance of their E-520 dSLR body.

In the film world, image stabilization only happened in the lens. In the current digital era, some cameras perform IS by moving the sensor, rather than a lens element, to compensate for camera motion. This is the approach taken in the Olympus E-520.

On a dSLR camera, sensor-based IS has the obvious advantage of making essentially all your lenses IS models. What hasn't been clear, though, is whether sensor-based IS can compete with lens-based designs in terms of effectiveness.

The argument has been made (primarily by makers of IS-equipped lenses) that a lens-based approach is optimal, because the IS system can be tuned very specifically for each lens. The implication of this argument is that a sensor-based approach must involve compromises because it has to accommodate the needs of a range of lenses.

Until our test of the E-520 body, there's been no way to evaluate the validity of such arguments, so all discussion has necessarily been theoretical.

While we can't generalize from one camera's test results to all sensor-based IS systems, the performance of the Olympus E-520's IS system certainly demonstrated that there's no inherent reason why sensor-based IS systems should underperform lens-based ones. Read on for all the details.

THE ENVELOPE, PLS

The bottom line on the Olympus E-520's IS system is that it turned in a superb performance, very much on par with the best lens-based IS systems we've looked at. Both our "shaky" and "steady" shooters (we'll call them Steady and Shaky from here on out) saw similar amounts of shake reduction with a 50mm lens attached (equivalent to a 100mm lens on a 35mm camera), while Shaky saw more improvement with a 150mm lens (equivalent to a 300mm tele on a 35mm camera).

We understand these results could raise a bit of discussion. There's a thread on our Message Forums (http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showtopic=395) on which we invite you to post your responses.

CLAIMS

As we've found with essentially all IS systems we've tested to date, results in our real-world tests don't come close to matching the manufacturer's claims. For the E-520, Olympus claims "up to 4 EV steps" of shake reduction, while the most either of our testers saw was 2.7 stops.

While we wish the industry would adopt more believable performance claims for IS systems, we by no means single Olympus out in this regard. Our results here are very consistent with our findings for other manufacturers, both in terms of the amount of improvement claimed and the amount we actually measured.

FOCAL LENGTHS

One difference we did notice with the E-520 vs. lens-based IS systems we've tested is that it achieved greater shake reduction at shorter focal lengths than at longer ones. Most lens-based systems we've tested trend in the other direction, showing more improvement at longer focal lengths.

As noted, both testers saw similar levels of improvement at 50mm. Steady could manage sharp shots unassisted down to about 1/29 second and an amazing 1/4 second with IS enabled. Shaky could only manage 1/74 second unaided and 1/11 second with IS on, but the relative improvement was the same, an impressive 2.7 stops.

With a longer lens attached, the amount of improvement was less, but still quite good. Steady could get sharp shots with the 150mm lens unassisted down to 1/95 second and all the way to 1/22 second with IS enabled, for an improvement of 2.1 stops. Shaky could only go to 1/234 second unaided, but managed 1/40 second with IS on, an improvement of 2.6 stops.

It's very interesting that it provided more improvement with the shorter lens attached. At this point, we've only tested this one sensor-based IS system, so we can't draw any general conclusions from it. It's possible that sensor-based systems could run into limitations at very long focal lengths, but in the case of the E-520, its performance with a 150mm lens (equivalent to a 300mm lens on a 35mm camera or a 200mm lens on a dSLR with a 1.5x crop factor) was about as good as that of one of the best lens-based IS systems we've tested, namely that of the Canon 70-200mm f4L IS. And at shorter focal lengths, it did better.

Going forward, it would be interesting to look at how well a sensor-based IS system handles even longer focal lengths, but a 300mm equivalent is the longest lens most amateurs will use anyway. This isn't to say that we won't test a longer lens on a sensor-based IS system at some time in the future. The point we're making here is just that the question is moot for a large percentage of users.

VIEWFINDER

One notable difference between sensor-based and lens-based IS systems is the impact both have on the viewfinder image.

A lens-based IS system will stabilize the image in an optical viewfinder, as well as reduce image blur in the final photos. The same is true of a sensor-based IS system when you're operating with a camera in Live View mode, where the viewfinder image is taken directly from the camera's main image sensor.

When using an optical viewfinder, though, a sensor-based IS system doesn't stabilize the viewfinder image at all. As a result, it may feel as though a sensor-based IS system isn't doing as much for you as a lens-based one when you're looking through the viewfinder.

In extreme circumstances, this lack of stabilization of the viewfinder image could make it difficult to accurately frame your shot. Our test results of the Olympus E-520 showed pretty conclusively, though, that it delivered stabilization performance in the final images very much on par with the best lens-based systems we've tested.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, the Olympus E-520 delivered really excellent IS performance, easily on par with the best lens-based systems we've tested to date.

For those wanting a little more detail on how the Olympus E-520 body performed, the illustrated story (link above) includes the performance graphs showing our actual test data. See also our article How to Read Image Stabilization Test Results (http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_1how2read/readingisresults.htm) for an explanation of the graphs. Techno-fanatics interested in the gory details of our test methodology should read our Image Stabilization White Paper (http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_1iswp/iswp.htm).

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Beginners Flash: Deep Thoughts on Depth of Field

We caught up with our buddy Jack Handy the other day at the Philosopher's Club, where the shot glasses are bullet proof and the stools won't let you down. By some strange coincidence, it happened to be happy hour so we prepared to soak in more of his wisdom than we can usually afford.

"What's your poison?" Jack smiled at us.

"Depth of field, Jack," we answered. "On a compact digicam. Any thoughts?"

You may have noticed the problem. Your friend with the fancy camera gets these great shots of her kid on the soccer field, the background a blur, the kid razor sharp. Your snapshots look like pressed flowers in comparison. Everything is in focus, nothing really stands out.

How do they do that?

Oh, your friend will tell you, it's this great dSLR and the terrific 70-300mm zoom lens, which when racked out to 300mm has an aperture of f5.6 wide open. Unfortunately, the lens costs even more than the dSLR, she tells you, so you roll your eyes like a soccer ball bouncing out of bounds.

"On a digicam?" Jack warms up.

"Right."

The problem with your digicam, see, is really the small sensor. To get the same angle of coverage on its small sensor that you have with the larger sensor on a dSLR, the digicam has to use wider, shorter focal length lenses.

That's why we're always talking about 35mm equivalent focal lengths on digicams, by the way. You can always appreciate the angle of view (wide, normal, telephoto) with 35mm equivalents. But if we reported the actual focal lengths, 6.4-34mm for example, you'd have no clue the zoom lens crops the scene like a 28-140mm 35mm zoom.

"With, say, a 5x zoom, maybe?" Jack starts to circle his prey.

"Exactly," we swallow.

Our hypothetical 6.4-34mm zoom is a generous 5x zoom, but even all the way out at 34mm it falls a well short of the normal 35mm focal length. Normal here simply means the focal length is about equal to the diagonal of the sensor. For a full-frame dSLR that's about 42mm, although a 50mm lens is what passes for normal for 35mm. Our 34mm "telephoto" focal length is not even a 50mm normal.

This matters because a wide angle lens has a much greater depth of field than a telephoto lens. So the problem with a digicam, you might say, is that you are always shooting with a wide angle lens and consequently never have a shallow depth of field.

"Not exactly," Jack astutely observes somewhat vaguely.

"How's that?"

Well, the focal length and sensor size aren't the only factors affecting depth of field. Fortunately.

Aperture is another important factor. Close the aperture on your lens to its highest number (which may only be f8) and you'll get as deep a depth of field as you can at that focal length. Open it up to its lowest number (which may be f2.8 at wide angle and f5.6 at telephoto, accounting for the longer extension of the lens) and you'll get the shallowest depth of field possible at that focal length.

On a digicam, you may only get two apertures to play with (which is one reason so many of them don't even let you select an aperture). If you don't have control of the aperture, you can still force a wider aperture for a shallower depth of field by lowering the ISO (getting it off Auto to something like 50 or 100). Raising the ISO (up to say 400) can force the aperture to be smaller, giving you more depth of field.

So even with no direct control of the aperture, you can still influence it. For more depth of field, zoom out to wide angle and raise the ISO. For less, zoom in and lower the ISO. The lack of direct control just makes it harder.

"It's really not hard," Jack surprises us.

"Huh?" we plumb his depths.

There just happens to be another factor that's a bit easier to control. Subject distance. If your subject is on the other side of the soccer field, you won't be able to blur the players lining the sideline behind your subject. But if your subject is on your sideline, say just 10 yards away, those players on the opposite sideline will indeed be blurred.

This is what happens all the time in Macro mode. Remember that flower you wanted to capture close up? How you fought to get more depth of field so the petals and pistols were both sharp? And how backing up a bit helped?

That's subject distance at work.

"Nope, not hard at all," Jack concluded.

We thanked him for his insight, put our glasses on and stumbled out of the Philosopher's Club. By another strange coincidence, everything was a blur.

Return to Topics.

In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read the Nikon "Friends of the 8800" discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9b16a

Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8

Read ongoing comments about Tamron lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=7

Read comments about focus testing methodology at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showtopic=353

Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: A Few New Liberal Arts

Recently Snarkmarket (http://www.snarkmarket.com) and Revelator Press (http://www.revelatorpress.blogspot.com) published New Liberal Arts under the Creative Commons license. After the printed volume sold out, they released the title as a free PDF. That fit our budget so we had a look.

It's a collection of short essays by various authors that "identify and explore twenty-first-century ways of doing the liberal arts." In the introduction, a nod is given to the liberal arts of the Middle Ages: logic, grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. And, the editors point out, they have no intention of replacing the liberal arts as they are known today. They simply propose a few additions. You know, for the new century and all.

The value of a liberal arts education has always been that, done well, it's recession proof. It transforms the student from an expert on how things have been done in a particular discipline (which is not very much further advanced than basic high school social skills) to a person who can ask a good question, listen to the answer and pursue the subject instead of, say, dead fish floating downstream. A good liberal arts education teaches you how to think, not what to think.

Those "whats" fade from fashion fairly quickly. The "hows" fashion fashion.

Among the new liberal arts proposed by the authors, there are a few that may not surprise you. For example:

Well, just a few, we said. Enough to suggest that a new liberal art could be anything that does not lead to employment. A field that has boomed in the last year. Although there is one other component to a liberal art missing in that test.

It has to also be something that keeps you up at night.

The one new liberal art that makes this book fodder for our mill, however, is "Photography." The argument goes that the "new liberal arts are overwhelmingly arts of the DOCUMENT, and the photograph is the document par excellence."

"We have an habitual sense of how photographic meaning is created," Media Theorist Timothy Carmody writes, "taken from our experience watching movies or taking our own photographs. But we also have a critical sense of it, taken from our aesthetic responses to photographs and cinema, and our awareness of how both are edited, enhanced, and manipulated."

OK, sure.

Readers of this publication know what a photograph is. Even what a good one is. And especially what a bad one looks like. And, if they've been reading a while, even how to improve what a photograph looks like.

Meaning, though, is created by the viewer.

We were reminded of this the other day killing some time watching Tom Wujec's 6:26 lecture at TED titled "Three Ways the Brain Creates Meaning" (http://www.ted.com/talks/tom_wujec_on_3_ways_the_brain_creates_meaning.html). All these images, all these talking heads, all these screaming meanies just confuse. But Wujec found that a few illustrations and images helped create meaning in the viewer.

The brain creates mental models through a series of ah-ha moments, he explained. It turns out that our eyes deliver their sensations to a part of the brain responsible for shapes. And that part of the brain routes the sensations to yet other sections of the brain for the more refined processing that creates the mental model. So shapes are key.

He goes on from there (working with shapes interactively to refine our understanding of a subject, if you must know) but we had to get back to work.

We were building a cataloging program for books. And as part of our testing, we grabbed an armful of our old college texts to enter their titles in the database. Aeschylus, Aristotle, Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer, Plato (in various translations), Xenophon. We'd grabbed the Greeks.

Talk about a liberal arts education.

But what made us really pause was that some of these books had been our father's college texts, too. That cultural link is not being maintained any more, let's just say. You can get through college today without turning one page of Aristotle, let alone Hesiod. Years ago I had a nephew who had read Augustine's Confessions, but no one's come close to that lately.

That's the beauty of a liberal arts education. It isn't "what" you know, so much as it is learning "how" to think. You don't need Homer or Augustine. You just need a good problem.

We started dreaming about the reading list we'd devise for the imaginary Uncle Mike's Summer School for Brilliant Nephews and Scintillating Nieces. Then we wondered if, in the new liberal art of Photography classes, the students will have ever heard of Man Ray or Imogene Cunningham or Ansel Adams. We closed our eyes and saw them interactively shuffling images on large touch-screen monitors that hovered mysteriously in the air before them.

Ah, the future is the best amusement park ever conceived.

When we opened our eyes, we realized the only thing that seems certain is that, if you've got a new idea, you should put it in a book like the authors of New Liberal Arts.

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Dave's Deals

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Image Ingestion

Many thanks for your regular newsletter, which I always find thought-provoking.

Regarding your recent article on image ingestion, I recommend you try IDimager (http://www.idimager.com). This asset management software has a great many options available on ingestion. It's an extremely capable product with a very active support forum where the responsiveness of the product's creator (as well as other users) is second to none. Needless to say I'm a fan!

-- Richard

(Thanks, Richard. Nice to have a Windows solution. We have to say we've been delighted at the new efficiencies our simple script has provided us over the last few weeks. We've been able to skip a few routine tasks because the script has already taken care of them for us. -- Editor)

RE: Mechanical Release Reviewed

Hello again, sorry it took me so long to reply but I was away.

The manual shutter release and bracket which I told you about (http://www.focalprice.com/detail.aspx?pid=5017) works wonderfully! It is very, very well built, heavy metal all around and well machined -- and it does have a nice little rubber tip to protect the camera release button. It's a good buy all around for only about $13, including shipping and tax.

Now I don't have to use the two-second timer on my FZ18. It was a bit of a pain when doing any kind of "serious" shooting. At times I would be concentrating on the photo, which is normal, and forget to set the timer. So one of life's little problems solved!

-- Eric

(Well, that's good news, Eric. And a good price, too. Thanks for following up! -- Editor)

RE: A Photo Contest

A camera store chain in Canada called Vistek had a legal warning for their Cross Canada photo contest.

I was sufficiently exercised by it that I contacted the supposed responsible party for the contest long distance about their legal disclaimer to point out the obvious absurdity of it. I waited two weeks for a change in the legal jargon and upon not seeing any change at all, I have let loose with my feelings about their apparent attitude.

Among the images they prohibit at the contest Web site are "Files that are pornographic. This includes, but is not limited to, files depicting genitalia, nudity, or sexual situations." Note their odd definition of pornography. I suggested to the responsible party that thousands of artists work with art models, art schools and university classes teach it in the studios, museums and galleries display art nudes both painted and photographed, digitally, analog, sculpture and whatever. They are not defined in any way as pornography by the Parliament of Canada. Their definition it seems is their own. As an absurdist example....

When did kissing become pornographic? After all, the act of kissing could be construed as a sexual situation. Further, does that mean a nudist beach with the whole family riding a raft in big waves but not wearing bathing suits is grounds for prosecution? I think not. Further, on Canadian television, nudity is not uncommon and I am not only referring to pay-per-view or specialty channels. I am talking about commercial television, so this definition means that the CBC and so forth are purveyors of pornography? Are they kidding? Nearly every movie has as its preface a statement regarding possible nudity. This legalese is so retrograde as to be laughable if it were not so destructive and insulting to the thousands of fine artists across this nation and across the world.

I myself have chosen never to purchase anything from this company again.

As a fine art photographer who, in fact, does work with the nude and has shown in hundreds of well-regarded art shows and many commercial galleries, taught fine arts at the university and graduate level for nearly 40 years, I do not take kindly, in the least, to being put into the slop bucket with pornographers and pornography by this bizarre definition and I suggest that I am not alone. I can well understand Vistek saying, "Sorry, we cannot accept nude materials as the works will be publicly displayed in our many stores." Well, fine. That is a "given" but their essential attack on a valid art form is most assuredly not.

-- Neil Fiertel

(These things always bring to mind Lenny Bruce's comment that if you have a problem with nudes you should "take it up with the manufacturer." There is nothing inherently objectionable about the human body. Of course, as you observe, there is a commercial inclination to avoid any controversy at all and a contest that so pretends should find a way to say so without impugning the integrity of the images it won't publish. Still, we rather prefer Lenny Bruce's way of putting it. -- Editor)

RE: Frank McCourt

After reading Frank McCourt's essay, I remembered that he had died recently and searched for the date.

I found that he died the day after the Photo Walk, that he was my age -- born a few weeks before me -- and that he was drafted during the Korean War, just as I was.

It was nice to read the essay, but I wish it had still had the picture.

-- Bob Schuchman

(Glad you chased after the McCourt essay, Bob. A long essay is worth a picture or two, we suppose, to turn an old phrase on its head. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Life in the laptop lane got a little more interesting this week as Apple announced the availability of an antiglare screen for $50 more on its 15-inch MacBook Pro, which joins the 17-inch MacBook Pro in that regard. But in a step backwards Sony announced Windows 7 XP mode won't run on Z series Vaio laptops. Apparently Sony intentionally crippled essential virtualization features in the $1,719 laptop as well as other Vaios to protect them from malicious code.


Assembla (http://www.assembla.com) has released its free CuteCanonCapture for remote control of PowerShot digicams via USB.


Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has released its $99.95 LightZone* 3.8 [LMW] with support for Olympus E-P1 Raw files.


Walgreens (http://photo.walgreens.com) is offering 30 4x6 prints for $3 via coupon code "3BUCKS" through Aug. 15. Upload your images from your laptop and pick up the prints at the closest Walgreens.


SeeFile (http://www.seefile.com) has released its online digital asset management and delivery system SeeFile 4.7 [M] with an improved Web interface, easy-to-use media bank and a delivery system accessible from any Web browser.


Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has introduced its $99.99/year Phanfare Pro service featuring your own domain name with up to 1,000 subsites, customized site features, video uploads up to 20 minutes in length, no Phanfare branding and 20-GB of storage. Existing subscribers with unlimited storage continue to enjoy that benefit if they upgrade to Pro.

Since Aug. 1, the company no longer offers new customers unlimited storage. Premium customers have 5-GB and Pro customers 20-GB with additional 20-GB storage blocks available for $49.99/year.

The company also released a new version of Phanfare Photon, its iPhone/iPod touch software, with synchronized video for offline playback, support for new Phanfare sites with short URLs, changing album properties under iPhone OS 3.0, better support for album sections and subsite assignment of albums for Pro customers.


Kubota Image Tools (www.kubotaimagetools.com) has announced its $349 RPG SpeedKeys for Lightroom 2, a wireless USB keypad with one-button access to essential adjustments like brightness, exposure, fill light and more; the most popular Kubota Lightroom presets; and advanced tools such as paint with light, burn, soften skin, and hand-color.


HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced it will make available Elemental Accelerator for Nvidia Quadro plug-in for Adobe Creative Suite 4 users as an option on the company's full line of HP workstations. CS4 users can take advantage of GPU-accelerated functionality while running Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash and Photoshop.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has confirmed that future versions (not updates of current releases) of Creative Suite and Lightroom on OS X will run only on Intel-based Mac computers with no support offered for installation on PowerPC based systems. The company said the decision was based upon Apple's recent announcement that it is withdrawing support for the PowerPC chip set with its new operating systems, beginning with Mac OS X Snow Leopard (V10.6).


Andrew Darlow has announced one-day color management and inkjet printing workshops in New Brunswick, N.J. on Sept. 12 (http://darlow912.eventbrite.com) and Sept. 13 (http://darlow913.eventbrite.com). Subscribers can use the discount code "IR30" for $30 off the regular workshop fee of $179 (coupon expires Sept. 4).

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
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Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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