|Volume 12, Number 14||2 July 2010|
Welcome to the 283rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We catch the Colorama exhibit at the Eastman House before Theano takes the Sony TX7 coast to coast. Then we look at current smile technology and tell you how a photo frame told a story.
Need advice on shooting fireworks? See our June 24, 2005 feature "Getting Creative With Fireworks" and the June 30, 2000 Advanced column "Shooting Fireworks the Digital Way." Both are in the Archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html).
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Twenty years ago the last Colorama was taken down from New York City's Grand Central Terminal after a four decade run. But through Oct. 17 you can see more of them in one place than ever before at the George Eastman House (http://www.eastmanhouse.org/Main/exhibitions/colorama) in Rochester, N.Y.
We took the tour earlier this week and were just as impressed with the technology used to make them as we were with the images themselves. But one question kept popping up to us. Just what can these giant photo murals of another era teach us today?
WHAT'S A COLORAMA?
Colorama (http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/features/coloramas/colorama.html and http://www.amazon.com/dp/1931788448/?tag=theimagingres-20) was the name given the world's largest photographs -- enormous color transparencies displayed over the east balcony of Grand Central Terminal for 40 years in the latter half of the last century.
And by enormous, we're not kidding. They were 18x60 feet.
Every three weeks starting in 1950 and ending only with the 1990 renovation of Grand Central, Kodak would install a new 18x60-foot image.
In the course of their 40-year run, Coloramas evolved through a series of technological changes.
Kodak had projected color slides, a recent innovation, to very large sizes for its Cavalcade of Color at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. But Grand Central Terminal, New York's largest interior space, was too bright for projection. The solution was to light the transparencies from behind.
That wasn't the only hurdle, though.
The maximum possible enlargement at the time was 45x, from 5 inches to 18 feet. The space required more, though, so the Colorama team devised a three-panel display with a central image 18 feet high and 36 feet wide with a pair of 12-foot wide verticals on either side. The full-size 18x60 format came later.
The first Coloramas were made using large format 8x10 view cameras loaded with 18-inch wide color negative film. Within two years large but collapsible wooden Deardorff banquet cameras (http://deardorffcameras.0catch.com/V20/V20html.htm) using 8x20-inch film were used to produce panoramic images.
But by 1970, the camera film size was reduced to half that size with no loss in image quality. And in 1977, 35mm Kodachrome was used to make a full-size Colorama transparency at 500x enlargement. An SLR was first used in 1986.
Quite a few famous photographers -- Ansel Adams, Ernest Hass and Eliot Porter among them -- were among the Colorama team but 75 percent of the images were shot by Kodak staff photographers working in eight-man teams and often using family members as models. Kodak technicians processed the film and assembled the Coloramas using Kodak materials and equipment.
The transparencies were produced at Kodak Park in Rochester. A custom-built enlarger exposed Ektacolor print film through a standard Kodak enlarging lens using a 1,000-watt lamp. The unexposed print film was supported on a large easel as the enlarger itself moved horizontally on a track making multiple exposures of 30 seconds each on the film. About 450 feet of print film were used for both the test strips and panels for each 18x60-foot transparency.
The Ektacolor film strips were 20 feet long and 19 inches wide, requiring 41 panels for each Colorama, spliced together with transparent tape. Later they were replaced with a 40-inch wide print film requiring just 20 panels. And by March 1987, six-foot wide Kodak Duratrans was used.
Processed film was unrolled across a 6x20-foot light table for retouching. The final touch was an aqueous matte spray applied to reduce surface reflections at Grand Central Terminal.
Kodak conducted a final inspection of each Colorama in an unused employee swimming pool where the images were also hung to dry. After passing inspection, they were rolled up on a 20-foot spool and shipped overnight to New York City.
Each new Colorama arrived at Grand Central before dawn, just after the crew had removed the previous one, which had been on display the usual three weeks. The new spool was raised to a vertical angle and locked onto a track. Then it was slowly unrolled, like a horizontal window shade. Every six inches, the crew hooked springs to the film's metal-reinforced grommets to hold it taut.
The aspect ratio of a Colorama was 30:9, a challenging assignment, especially considering Kodak wanted its orange and red colors in the shot, too.
Things "in rows" were a popular subject: tulips, midshipmen, choir boys, fighter jets, wheat fields. And landscapes: Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Brooklyn Bridge. The holidays were observed as well: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
But even giraffes at the San Diego Zoo managed to get in the picture (bending down) and a row of five water-skiers stretched nicely across the frame, too.
The rules were simple.
"You are here to promote photography," Kodak Vice President Adolph Stuber told his staff. "Talk photography first -- Kodak next." Each Colorama, he said, should convince the viewer they could have made "the same wonderful photo."
Except for the one black and white of the moon taken by the Lunar Orbiter.
But most of the images on display are familiar family scenes. In fact, Norman Rockwell was the art director for one Colorama titled "Closing up a Summer Cottage." Every character matters in these posed pieces. An approach that was probably just the ticket for the half million commuters a day that passed by them.
There's almost always someone in the shot with a camera, too. One observer whose job is to capture the moment in a photo.
"The Coloramas taught us not only what to photograph," Curator Alison Nordstrom explains, "but how to see the world as though it were a photograph." Kodak's goal was to popularize the idea of taking color photographs all the time, not just on major occasions.
Oddly enough every Instamatic (introduced in 1963) seemed to have a flash cube attached (even in bright sunlight). And some of the Coloramas featured Kodak movie cameras rather than still cameras.
Kodak kept all 565 camera images, recently donating them to the George Eastman House in Rochester. Thirty-six of them are on display there now, reproduced as 6.5-foot long panels.
Modern digicam owners will recognize the oversaturated colors "deeper and brighter than in the real world," as Nordstrom put it.
The digital inkjet prints were produced by the Buffalo prepress house Net/W Imagery. The prints were made from digital scans of the original 6x18-inch color transparencies. Jodean Bifoss did the "substantial" digital restorations.
So Coloramas have even made it into the digital age.
Now that they're here, what can we learn from them?
Fascinating as the technology is, it's the images themselves that have the most to teach us. Curator Nordstrom suggests, "Like pentimenti, the ghosts of Colorama persist in our collective consciousness, continuing to shape how and what we see and desire, and decorating still the walls of some lost and immaterial place that remains longed-for and imperfectly recalled."
Today the Coloramas don't sell Instamatics. They remind us in tableaus as classic as cave drawings, Egyptian obelisks, Grecian urns or Etruscan paintings what really matters to us.
They were big dreams in vivid color then and they are still what we dream of today.
By THEANO NIKITAS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TX7/TX7A.HTM on the Web site.)
Having a pocketable camera like the $375 Sony Cyber-shot TX7 means you never have to be without a camera. Whether you're out for a quick morning walk, on your way to pick up the kids at school or attending a family wedding or a friend's party, the Sony TX7 can be right there with you.
Portability is only one of the Sony TX7's attributes. It's a great looking camera and has one of the best touchscreen interfaces on the market, such that even touchscreen naysayers may like.
Basic point-and-shoot features provide the Sony TX7's core functionality so snapshooters will be comfortable with the camera. More advanced features such as iSweep Panorama, Backlight Correction HDR and Hand-held Twilight shooting are equally as easy to use and are designed to help snapshooters get better pictures without having to know a lot about photography.
The camera is fun to shoot with, too, which makes it likely that you'll use it more often. The Sony TX7 is a little pricey for a point-and-shoot camera, but if you enjoy shooting with the camera as much as I did, the price becomes less important.
The Sony TX7's touchscreen is one of the best I've used. It's responsive, particularly when tapped with the tip of a fingernail instead of the finger's pad. A Paint Pen is supplied with the camera and works well with the touchscreen -- assuming you don't mind carrying it around and taking the chance that you'll lose it.
There are a handful of touchscreen secrets to discover. One is to drag from the left to the right of the screen to open a menu. You can also hide the icons by touching the left side of the LCD and dragging your finger to the left. Although not unique to the Sony TX7, you can set focus by touching the desired spot on the screen.
You can also customize the interface. You can't add controls but you can either remove a control or substitute one for another. I went into the Menu system, tapped the Customize icon and moved the Flash control onto the LCD panel in place of the Self-Timer.
Moveable controls include White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Flash, ISO, Smile Shutter, Easy Mode, Movie Mode, Resolution/Aspect Ratio, Burst Shooting, Auto Macro, Focus Mode, Metering Mode, Face Detection and Display Settings.
Other icons that appear on the LCD include: Battery Gauge, number of shots remaining, resolution/aspect ratio, Mode, Playback arrow and Menu icon.
To change modes, just touch the Mode icon in the lower right corner of the LCD, which displays a menu of options.
Most of the shooting modes are pretty standard: iAuto, Program AE, Movie Mode and Scene Selection. There's also an Easy Mode for even simpler shooting. But Sony takes the TX7 a step up with a few additions like iSweep Panorama, Anti-Motion Blur, Hand-held Twilight and Backlight Correction HDR modes.
Intelligent Auto turns over control to the camera. The Sony TX7 then chooses the best Scene setting for the shooting conditions and subject. Program AE automatically chooses exposure settings, but you can adjust ISO, White Balance and Exposure Compensation, to name just a few options.
Scene Selection offers the standard Landscape, Pet, Fireworks, Beach and Snow. The Gourmet setting is perfect for posting pictures of what you're eating on Facebook, Twitter and foodie blogs. There are also High Sensitivity, Soft Snap, Twilight Portrait, Twilight, High Speed Shutter and Underwater scene modes. Sony offers a Marine Pack underwater housing for the TX7 that can be taken to a depth of 132 feet.
Setting the TX7 to iSweep Panorama and panning it horizontally or vertically across a scene, the Sony TX7 captures up to 100 images and automatically stitches them into a single panorama image. Sony has improved this function by making it "intelligent" to use Face Detection and adjust individual frames so it doesn't awkwardly crop a moving subject.
Anti-Motion Blur takes a half-dozen high ISO shots almost instantaneously at higher shutter speeds than a single exposure would and combines them to reduce noise while keeping motion blur to a minimum. Hand-held Twilight does basically the same thing, but selects a slower shutter speed and lower ISO to minimize noise.
Backlight Correction High Dynamic Range captures two images at different exposures and puts them together to expand the range of highlight and shadow detail. The end result is a more evenly exposed image.
The TX7 features 1080i HD video (1920x1080 or 1440x1080) at 60 frames per second in AVCHD format; or 1440x1080, 1280x720 and 640x480 VGA at 30fps in MP4 format. It automatically chooses a Scene mode. Other Movie mode options include White Balance and Metering (either Multi or Center Metering; Spot metering is only available for still images). You can also turn the LCD icons on or off. It records audio in stereo.
While stills benefit from geometric distortion correction in the Sony TX7, videos are not so blessed, with noticeable barrel distortion at wide-angle.
I really had fun shooting with the TX7. I kept it in a little pouch in my bag or backpack when I wasn't taking pictures. Rather than the bundled wrist strap, I attached a lanyard to the camera and wore it around my neck for quick grab-n-snap photos. It's such a slick looking camera that I didn't mind showing it off like a piece of jewelry. On a practical level, by using a lanyard I was less likely to accidentally change a setting with the camera dangling from my neck. Whenever I've used a wrist strap on a touchscreen model (including the TX7) and gripped the camera in the palm of my hand to carry it, I would inadvertently change the screen or a setting. Let's face it, an accidental movie of the palm of my hand -- or the floor -- is a waste of battery life and storage space. Only Warhol could get anyone to watch something so mundane and call it art.
It took a while to find a comfortable and efficient, method of opening the lens cover, but once I started pushing it down from the panel's top edge and pushing it up from the bottom edge, getting the camera ready to shoot was easy. In fact, opening the lens cover was the slowest part of shooting with the TX7. Once it was powered up, this little camera was pretty fast. There was little shutter lag -- 0.33 second at wide-angle and 0.36 second at telephoto. Pre-focus and, bam! -- shutter lag dropped to a mind-boggling 07 second. Given the right conditions (bright light and contrast), the TX7's autofocus was quite good as well. Under low light/low contrast conditions it slowed a bit, not surprisingly.
Shot-to-shot time wasn't bad at 1.77 seconds but throw the TX7 into Burst mode and you'll get about 10 frames per second. Sure, the burst maxes out after 10 frames and the camera is "only" 10 megapixels, but that's pretty impressive speed from a pocket camera. Frankly, I'm more than happy with cameras that aren't involved in the megapixel race, so a 10-Mp TX7 is fine with me.
One of the more fun outings with the TX7 was to Universal Studios in California, with special performances just for our group. A video of the soundstage -- with members of the audience creating the sounds with the supplied props in sync (sort of) with a movie projected on a screen -- turned out much better than expected. Despite the fact that the room was very dark, the little TX7 recorded individual people and the movie screen. Sound, while a little tinny, was clearly audible.
Out on the streets at Universal, some people were busy having caricatures drawn while others were having fun watching the live Frankentstein and Mummy characters. I initially shied away from Frankenstein since he had a habit of chasing people, but once he slowed down I tried to get a few shots. Despite some streetlights, it was really dark. The TX7's miniscule flash wasn't up to the task of lighting up the old monster so I bravely closed the gap between us to a couple of feet and grabbed another shot. This time he was well-lit, despite some minor hotspots. There was no redeye, although a distant shot -- in which the actor was very underexposed -- gave Frank bright red eyes. At ISO 125, the actor's mask was nicely focused and pretty sharp. I noticed no noise in his black T-shirt or dark suit jacket nor in the solid black background. The flash is effective when you're close to the subject but don't count on the TX7 for lighting up a room when you're at a party since the flash maxes out at 12.5 feet at wide-angle; 10.2 feet at telephoto.
The TX7 also came in handy during the final snowstorm of the season. It's not waterproof like its TX5 sibling (and neither am I), so I waited until the streets were cleared and the sun came out before I took the TX7 outdoors. It was fun to shoot snow scenes with the TX7's Intelligent Sweep Panorama function. This mode captures up to 100 images and automatically stitches them into a panorama that's up to 258 degrees wide, either vertically or horizontally. The Standard option produces an image that measures 4912x1080 pixels (horizontal) or 3424x1920 pixels (vertical). You can go even wider with the Wide option, which delivers images that measure 7152x1080 pixels (horizontal) or 4912x1920 pixels (horizontal).
Sweep Panorama is really easy to use, once you figure out the speed with which you have to pan. If you're moving too slowly, for example, you'll get a message that the camera can't capture the image. There weren't any people around to test out the Intelligent Sweep Panorama's Face Detection once the weather got warmer and spring temperatures brought out the flowers. A long, narrow expanse of blooming Phlox seemed like a good subject for a Spring iSweep Panorama shot. Wrong. Because the flowers are uniform in size, shape and grouped by color and because I was so close, the camera had a hard time meshing the images together. Some parts of the panorama looked great but others were misaligned and I could actually see the individual frames. All the other non-Phlox panoramas I shot were perfectly aligned and one shot with a moving car in the background looked natural and not split between frames, indicating that given the right circumstances, the intelligent part of the Sweep was pretty smart.
The TX7's Backlight Correction HDR mode works fairly well to balance out exposure, bringing out shadow detail in the foreground while balancing the background highlights. Some of my "before" images bumped up the Auto ISO so high that the photos were very soft. When the special mode was activated, the Auto ISO dropped to a more manageable level and images looked sharper. Other HDR test shots in brighter light kept a lower ISO, were sharper and showed a less pronounced, but still visible, difference between before and after images.
Handheld Twilight mode is similar, taking six images and merging them into one for a low-noise low-light shot. Normally you'd just raise the sensitivity to get a handholdable shutter speed, but the results of that strategy are heavy noise and softness from noise suppression. Sony's strategy with Handheld Twilight keeps the ISO low, fires off six slow shutter speed shots and merges them into one, eliminating most motion blur in the combination process.
Optical image stabilization is a hidden feature on the TX7. I say it's hidden because there's no way to turn it on or off. More to the point, I was able to get some good (not blurry) images handholding the camera at 1/60 second. That's quite a feat considering that I'm not very good at handholding cameras at less than 1/100 second, particularly skinny, sub-compact cameras like the TX7 with no place to get a real solid grip. The shutter release has a soft touch, which might also contribute to my good fortune shooting at slower-than-average (for me) shutter speeds.
The TX7 also accompanied me to New York Fashion Week. In addition to photographing some cityscapes I grabbed some shots of a fashion presentation. The TX7, as fast as it is, is more appropriate for being carried on the runway as an accessory than it is for photographing models on the catwalk. A presentation, where the models stand around showing off a designer's looks, was a better setting for the camera. Like my encounter with Frankenstein, the camera's tiny flash meant that I had to get fairly close to the models to shoot. Of course, they were less threatening than Frankenstein and the lighting was better. Even without the flash I actually managed to get a couple of decent shots at 1/30 second thanks to Sony's SteadyShot image stabilization.
It's hard to criticize image quality of a camera that you like so much, but our printed test results were disappointing compared to other cameras, including most of Sony's models. Given the camera's lens flare and, perhaps, lower resolution, it's best to keep print sizes at 11x14 or smaller. On the other hand, if you need to push ISO to 3200, you can probably pull some decent snapshot-sized prints.
On a more positive note, the TX7 rendered colors accurately and exposures were generally accurate as well. Not surprisingly, images shot under incandescent lighting were warm, even when using the Incandescent White Balance preset; Manual White Balance works better. Low light performance wasn't bad although fine details are often lost, even at ISO 125, due to noise reduction. Still, I'm going to be really sad when I send the TX7 back to Sony. The camera is really very cool and has a lot going for it in terms of design, features and functionality.
With the Cyber-shot TX7, Sony has delivered an incredibly stylish, finely designed sub-compact camera that's a pleasure to shoot with. One of the best and most responsive touchscreens ever released and practical uses of cool technology, such as iSweep Panorama, make the Sony TX7 equally appealing for function and form. Yes, it's pricey and its sensor doesn't offer as many megapixels as others on the market, but a few low-light features make up for that, especially Handheld Twilight mode.
The Sony TX7's tiny size, gorgeous 3.5-inch high-resolution screen and practical features are only a few of the reasons you'll find yourself taking more pictures, which means you'll get your money's worth out of the camera.
Print quality was disappointing considering how much we really love all other aspects of the camera, but if you don't mind keeping your prints to 11x14 inches or less, then you'll be OK. If large prints of low-light subjects are more your thing, you'll have to look elsewhere, but you're not likely to find a camera that delivers form, function and speed in such an attractive little package. We can safely declare the Sony TX7 a Dave's Pick.
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:
- Reviewed: Canon Rebel T2i (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/T2I/T2IA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1145/cat/98)
- Reviewed: Pentax Optio W90 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OW90/OW90A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCFH20/DMCFH20A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TX7/TX7A.HTM)
We've come a long way from the days when "Say Cheese!" was the only way to capture a smile. Many of today's digicams feature face recognition and a few of those can also recognize a smile when they see one.
Known as Smile Shutter or Smile Timer depending on the manufacturer, this option will look for faces in the scene and wait for a smile before snapping the shutter.
We're not big fans of letting the camera decide when to snap the shot. We like to make that call.
And you may not be a big fan or changing settings on your camera. We can appreciate that. Unless you set them right back, it's hard to remember how the camera is configured.
But we had a tough problem recently that led to just such a desperate act.
Every shot we have ever taken of sister-in-law Mary has been -- for 35 years -- a dud. We hadn't seen her in a few years but when the family gathered recently, we knew why she was avoiding us.
"Come on, Mary. Just one picture?" we'd plead. "You don't have to smile. Look serious, if you want. A formal portrait."
But it's beyond her to look serious. Ask any of her second graders. She refused -- with a smile on her face. Then she laughed.
We were stuck together for a few days this time, though, so we wore her down. She let us snap a few after we explained we had a new camera to review and a pressing deadline -- and after we promised not to take any more if she didn't like it.
So we pulled out the Nikon Coolpix S8000 we had handy and waited for a smile.
She smiled, all right, but we just couldn't catch it. She'd pose, then smile and we'd take six shots of her. But not one of them captured her smile. She'd look like she was crying or sad.
This went on for days. It was uncanny. Same old problem. A problem you'd think we would have had with her four sisters, too. But, no, it was only Mary.
Was it just the way she smiled? Was our timing somehow thrown off? Whatever it was, we just could not figure it out.
That's where the desperate act comes in.
Late one afternoon, we switched to Smart Portrait mode on the Coolpix S8000, enabling the Smile Timer feature. And just to make it up to her, we also left Skin Smoothing on. Could the Coolpix S8000 capture her smile?
It recognized her face right away, framing it in a big green box. The box turned yellow when focus was achieved, tracking her so that the instant she smiled, the shutter snapped. The very first shot was the sweetly smiling Mary we had never managed to capture before.
She thought we were kidding when we raved about our success. So we showed her the shot. "Hey, that's a good one!" she laughed. "I'm smiling. Finally!"
But she still didn't believe the camera had decided when to take the shot. She thought maybe we'd just improved with age.
So we let her try it on a few of the people around the table and the same thing happened. As soon as they smiled, the camera caught them. Perfectly.
"This is fun!" she laughed. Every shot was a keeper.
The only time the Coolpix S8000 had a problem was when we shot a few faces that were backlit and in heavy shadow. Not enough contrast, we guessed. Otherwise, it did a much better job than we had been able to do.
Just ask Mary.
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/[email protected]@.ee9b16a
Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f773
Read about the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eeaf816/0
Read comments about Tamron lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=7
Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b2
Digital photo frames have been big on the gift list for Moms and grads for a few years now. But there's something funny about that. We prefer to buy them for other people than use them ourselves.
That's because, after the initial thrill, they tend to be a nuisance, flipping through a series of casual snapshots repetitiously. It can be mind-numbing.
Better to have one gorgeous shot framed on a wall you can look at repeatedly over the years, we've argued.
So they tend to fall into disuse rather quickly. They aren't turned on at all after a while, like an old family photo album that never gets opened when the people in it can't come around any more.
Nobody wants to restock a digital frame with fresh images. Because, well, you have to go back to the computer to do that. And that's about as fun as clearing the table and doing the dishes.
A self-updating frame is a great idea and Kodak's Pulse frame is one such we wrote about recently. GiiNii's Magic seems to be another good idea.
But the other day we found a new use for an old frame that was such a hit we have to share it.
The family had gathered for the last days of the mother of all our brides. She hadn't been well for years and after her last hospitalization, she had been placed in a five-suite hospice with 24-hour care. She was only conscious for the first few of what turned out to be a 17-day stay.
Hospice isn't like being hospitalized. The staff focuses on keeping the patient comfortable, staying a step ahead of any pain. A doctor visited her every day but there was no treatment.
For the family it was a blessing. Lifted of the burden of caring for her, we were able to simply be with her during her final days. To sit with her. To visit. To smooth her hair, to kiss her forehead.
There was quite a few of us doing that in the course of a day and the staff soon felt they had a sense of who this woman was by who her family was. But they'd never really gotten to know who they were taking care of except through our stories.
Then one night, late into the stay, our brother-in-law brought in a photo frame he had filled with dozens of photos of her. We gathered around it to identify who the babies were, what house the picture was taken in, when it was taken, who looked like who, observing everything we could. And one by one, the staff joined us.
That's her, just a baby, in her mother's arms, one of us would explain. There she is with her first bike. And there with her two little sisters, whom she helped raise. She's in her high school graduation gown in that one. And with her young husband (of 62 years now). There she is on the sidewalk holding her first of five baby girls.
"In all the old pictures," one of the nurses observed, "people are always standing in front of their houses."
And it was true. There was the farm first. And then John Street. And then their first house on Farmington Road. Then the one on Holley Ridge Circle. Somehow they were more than street names. They were like eras in family history.
We saw her as a young woman raising a family of five daughters. Then as a young grandmother taking care of another generation. Then as a still young great grandmother babysitting yet another generation. We had all come to love the woman whose delight in life was our happiness.
"Oh, how wonderful!" another of the nurses would gasp, overcome by the rush of images showing who this woman was. "It's so nice to see who she was."
The frame had shown us, as Louisa May Alcott once put it, the woman who lived "by cheerfully taking whatever comes, by being helpful and affectionate to all, and by wasting no time dreaming about what may happen, but bravely making each day a comfort and a pleasure to yourself and others."
We left the random slide show running so the next shift could enjoy it too. They wouldn't have all the details, of course, but they'd be able to recognize her.
Early the next morning, the call came. She had passed away.
Within half an hour, we had all gathered at her bedside again. This time sobbing quietly, paying our respects with a kiss and a prayer.
As we moved away to let others close, we noticed the frame was still on, 80 years of photos still flashing silently across its screen. We stood in front of it to see it all again.
We were joined by the others as they stepped away from the bed. It seemed like a different show to us now. A celebration.
The photo we had only hours described with a laugh, "That's Johnny making his favorite dish with her!" now became, "That was the time she showed Johnny how to make his favorite dish." The frame told the story of her life to us once more -- with us in it as supporting actors. Our tears dried, our smiles returned.
We saw again just how much we had been blessed.
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RE: Kodak Autographic Junior
As one who began his pursuit of photography back in 1945, I recall processing orthochromatic roll film in a tray by gripping an end in each hand and using a see-saw motion while dipping the film into the developer. Of course a red safelight was used to see what one was doing. I grew to love the smells of the different chemicals.
I was in high school at that time, but I continued my love of photography in the Navy and after serving 21 years, I retired as a Senior Chief Photographers Mate.
I'm writing to tell you how much I enjoyed the walk down memory lane with "Gramp's camera." While that was before my time, it still brought back the realization of how much has changed in my profession. Back in Gramp's day, owning a quality camera such as his was a luxury. Today, virtually everyone owns a camera that would make Gramp's camera stand up and take notice. And many of today's amateurs possess the ability and creativeness to shoot circles around a lot of pros. This Old Salt is continuously impressed with the work he sees coming out of the amateur sector.
Your newsletter is well done and most informative, and I thank you for it. Keep up the good work.
-- Ken Nichols(Thanks very much for the kind words, Ken! We have to confess, we liked the smell of the chemicals, too. Glacial acetic acid seemed to do what Claritin promises -- and for a good deal less. And good point about how good the gear has gotten in comparison, too -- and the effect on the images we can capture. Our Picture of the Day contest (http://www.dailydigitalphoto.com/cgi-bin/potd/potd.pl) is daily evidence of that. -- Editor)
Many thanks for that piece in this week's newsletter about the Kodak No. 1A Autographic Junior folding roll film camera. Ours -- actually a slightly later model, a No.1 Autographic Kodak Junior, Rochester-built c. 1920 model -- took every picture in our family album until, in 1954 (when I guess I would have been about the same age as Dad was when he bought his Autographic) and against all family advice ("You realize that photography's a very expensive hobby?"), I went independent and bought my first camera, a 35mm Kodak Retinette. I still have most of the cameras I subsequently acquired over the years, but that first ancient folding Kodak of Dad's is still the most cherished.
I never saw a user manual for his camera and, by the time I started using it, the A-120 film had long since ceased to be available, so I still don't know what was special about the Autographic film. Are silver halide emulsions normally pressure-sensitive or did they add something in the mix to make them so?
My step up to 35mm was prompted by a youthful urge to take better color pictures, after an initial but unsuccessful foray using Dufaycolor, an amateur color film briefly available again in the early postwar years for roll-film cameras in the UK.
The developed images were tantalizingly colorful but impossibly dark and the way ahead was clearly to switch to 35mm as soon as possible, particularly as a much superior process, Kodachrome, was just starting to appear in the shops.
That was probably the last time our roll-film camera was used, but it served us well for more than 30 years. I think I'll put another spool through, for old times' sake and to remind me again about the discipline of all the things you had to remember to avoid disaster: Look at the weather (Sunny/Cloudy?) and subject (Open/Shade?). Then look up the aperture and shutter speed settings in the printed table on the paper slip enclosed with the film. Next, guess or pace out the focus distance and finally -- if the subject's still around -- take the picture.
Then Wind On. (Did you forget to write the caption? Tough, you can't wind the film back again.)
Our family aim was always to take a different scene with every shot. Film was considered too costly to waste. And if someone had blinked, too bad. (You wouldn't know for a fortnight, anyway.) -- Keith Birtwistle
(Thanks, Keith! Autographic film had a tissue-thin carbon paper between the red backing paper and the film that was key to the trick (http://www.butkus.org/chinon/kodak/kodak_autograph_3a/kodak_autographic_3a.htm). -- Editor)
RE: Auto or Manual Scan Retouching?
CS5 looks fantastic, but costs more than three 8800Fs! Can the scanner-bundled Photoshop Elements software (noting that the 9000F comes with the latest version) do the manual retouching you advocate? If not, is there any software less costly than CS5 that can (minus the more advanced CS5 features, perhaps)? If limited to Elements, wouldn't some defect removal capacity for prints be better than none at all, as an occasional convenience? What if Vuescan were in the mix? Thanks, Mike!
-- Kevin McElroy(Advocate? Such a strong word. Let's just say manual retouching is the standard by which automated defect removal should be judged. The advantage of using Photoshop CS5 for manual retouching is its new content-aware fill mode for the healing brush. It redefines what we've been doing with clone tools for years. Can you get the same results with Elements? Sure. Any product with a clone tool can manually retouch a scan. Will it be harder and take a lot longer than CS5? Yep. But you can still get the job done. If you've got 24 images to process, use automated defect removal. If you've got one image you want to frame as an 8x10, do it manually. Lavish care on it. -- Editor)
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released Photoshop CS5 12.0.1 to address "a number of high priority bugs with 64-bit Mac, Performance, User Interface, Type, Content-Aware Fill, HDR, 3D, Painting, GPU and Liquify." Details may be found on the Mac (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4732) and Windows (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4733) download pages.
Camera Bits (http://www.camerabits.com) has posted a release candidate of Photo Mechanic 4.6.5 [MW], adding TIFF artist and copyright variables among a number of improvements.
ImageRights (http://www.imagerights.com) is offering a free version of its online image recognition and recovery service "to further expand efforts against image piracy." The company offers Basic, Standard and Pro packages for $9.95, $19.95 and $39.95 a month, respectively. Customers who select a paid program and opt into the Recovery Program share 35 percent of their recovered fees with ImageRights. Those who select the free service share 50 percent of their compensation.
GiiNii (http://www.giinii.com) has introduced its under-$200 Magic digital photo frame with 802.11bgn Wi-Fi, a full touchscreen, preinstalled Web applications (YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, SHOUTcast and Google Calendar) including RSS feeds and battery operation.
The SD Association (http://www.sdcard.org) has announced two new high-speed performance symbols for SDXC and SDHC memory cards and devices. The first symbol identifies devices with a new "ultra high speed" bus-interface performance and the second identifies SD products that support real-time video recording.
Phanfare (http://blog.phanfare.com/2010/07/phanfare-reaches-profitability) has announced its first profitable month ever in June "and will continue to be profitable going forward on both a cash and accrual basis."
Rocky Nook has published Wildlife Photography -- On Safari with your dSLR: Equipment, Techniques, Workflow by Uwe Skrzypczak. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952563/?tag=theimagingres-20).
DxO Labs has unveiled DxOMark 2010 (http://dxomark.com), adding objective Raw-based lens performance measurements to its existing database of camera sensor measurements. DxOMark 2010 also proposes 15 DxOMark scores to assess various aspects of image quality and help rank and compare lenses and cameras.
LrSaver (http://www.lrsaver.com) [MW] has been updated to v0.98.1 with support for Lightroom 3 and a bug fix related to Unicode catalog folder names.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $34.95 GraphicConverter 6.7.3 [M] with support for the Google Earth Safari plug-in, Location and Status in the AppleScript API and undo a change in selection; import of EPS-encoded PRN format; and more.
Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has released his free Raw Photo Processor 4.1.5 [M] with preliminary support for the Samsung EX1/TL500, updated profiles for recent Nikon dSLRs, greater precision for Gamut View and better blending for the Fuji S3/S5.
Sigma (http://www.sigma-photo.co.jp) has released updated versions of its Sigma Photo Pro image processing software for both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Adorama (http://www.adorama.com) has announced the winners of the first annual iPhone App Awards for Photography. The winning Apps, available on the App Store at iTunes, are: Photoshop.com Mobile, CameraBag, Best Camera, Photogene, TiltShift Generator/Fake Miniature, ShakeItPhoto, Hipstamatic, PhotoForge, Lo-Mob and Photo fx.
Landscape photographer Joe Deal has passed away at the age of 62 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/arts/design/23deal.html?hpw). Deal's disturbing man-altered landscapes are widely regarded as a turning point in American photography, moving from the pristine images of his predecessors to include the land's degradation at the hands of developers.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher