|Volume 14, Number 11||1 June 2012|
Welcome to the 333rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. A GPS feature checklist starts off this issue before Mike Tomkins packs the G1 X in his bag. We review Burtynsky's iPad app on his recent work then do a census on superzooms. Finally we shoot the Golden Gate Bridge for its 75th birthday.
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GPS (http://www.gps.gov) sounds like a great camera feature, particularly if you plan to travel with your camera to places you've never been. So it's been implemented on a lot of cameras recently.
We thought we'd share our little GPS reviewer checklist with you. When we test a camera with GPS, we rely on it to see which GPS features the camera supports. There are a lot of possibilities.
First we look at the GPS tags (http://owl.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/TagNames/GPS.html) in the Exif header. Some cameras do not write all of them to the image file. Here are three to check (in our gallery shots):
Number of Satellites. Think of GPSSatellites as a confidence factor. If the camera can only communicate with two satellites, you're not going to get very accurate position readings. If you get six or seven, you can be pretty confident in the data. And if you get 11, you know you can't really do much better (with half of them on the other side of the earth).
We don't consider this one optional, but it is often omitted. Subtract points for that.
Altitude. GPSAltitutude is the least precise GPS tag there is and therefore optional. It's calculated from the readings of at least three satellites. But if you're hiking summit trails or scaling peaks, it can be nice to have a relative if not absolute number.
Heading. GPSImgDirection is an interesting one that's also often omitted. Consider that the camera is never taking a photo of exactly where it is. It is always taking a photo of something somewhere else. It could be a mountain range miles away, a tree a hundred yards away, a person a few feet away. But never where the camera is.
So the GPS coordinates only tell you where the camera was, not where the subject of the photo is. The Heading tag helps by telling you in which direction the camera was pointed. With focus distance, you can actually derive the location of the subject, too. Sometimes.
The one big drawback with using GPS on a camera is that it takes a while to acquire sync with the satellites. Typically, you want to power up your camera and fire away, not wait several minutes for sync. Leaving power on to maintain sync isn't a great solution because it consumes battery power quickly.
Assisted GPS uses "supplemental information for faster acquisition of GPS data to supplement or replace satellite radio signals when the latter are confusing or unavailable." So if you turn on your camera and wait and wait and wait for it to sync, this is for you. If skips the nearly 13-minute download (at 50 bit/s with a clear signal) of the GPS almanac and ephemeris from the satellites.
We've seen it just this year on cameras with GPS but it's been an FCC requirement on cell phones (to quickly provide location in a 911 emergency) for a while. But it seems to be implemented a bit differently on cameras than cell phones (which can talk to cell towers).
Usually you're encouraged to install utility software whose sole function in life is to download the data file from the camera manufacturer's site and copy it to your camera, connected to your computer via a USB cable. But some companies just provide a link to download the file, which you can copy to your memory card and then upload to the camera.
The data file has an expiration date. Typical useful life is two weeks.
There's another data file that is often tapped into for location information but this one is usually in the camera firmware and can't be updated. It's a database of location names associated with GPS coordinates.
One recent camera we reviewed warned that its database was current as of December 2011 and "will not be updated." That's par for the course.
The place names themselves are not precise but reference the closest landmark. You can therefore sometimes edit the place names in your camera on your images.
How useful is it?
It's amusing when it gets it right and it's usually not as bad as you might think. If you're traveling in a foreign country, it might be very handy. Or not.
Some cameras let you use the feature to filter images based on their location. Now that sounds useful.
GPS radios poll the satellites at very frequent intervals (which vary from camera to camera). Frequent polling takes its toll on the battery but makes the location data more accurate, especially if you're in a vehicle and moving around quickly. At 60 mph, for example, you could be a mile away from the last location if the device updates every minute.
That kind of thing makes logging your trip both difficult and helpful. By recording these location pings in a log file, you can see where you went later. There are free Web services like GPS Visualizer (http://www.gpsvisualizer.com) that will plot your log data on a Google map.
Options generally include how long to log data (since the GPS device remains powered on even when the camera is off) and sometimes with what frequency.
Because the data isn't recorded only when you shoot an image, it can help fill in the blanks about how you got where you were. Alternately you can map a trip using the GPS data in just your images.
Still, we find it a useful feature and wish it were a lot more common.
Some cameras that log GPS data also map the data. They can show you where that image you just took actually is on a map.
And some can even show you your current position -- image or not -- on a map. Generally you just press a special function button and zoom in. You can usually see street names and important locations to help get your bearings.
This may not sound very impressive if you use a smartphone but it's nice to have on a camera, especially if you're traveling where your phone isn't much use.
The map data is usually in firmware but may be augmented by a data file on the included CD. If that's the case, you'll usually be encouraged to load the file on your camera for "detailed maps." Maps without detail aren't much help.
SETTING THE CLOCK
Some implementations let you set the camera's clock using satellite data. There will be an option in the Setup menu.
It's not a bad idea, either. No extra cost and more accurate than eyeballing the clock on the wall.
We mentioned that the GPS radio will keep polling the satellites even when the camera itself is off. Consequently, GPS cameras may offer some power setting options.
Airplane mode will disable the GPS unit when the camera is turned off. This is pretty much the expected behavior -- unless you're logging your trip. In that case, you do want the radio to keep working even if the camera is off.
Leaving it on is also a good way to avoid the long delay in synching with the satellites.
One trick works nicely when you're in one particular venue (like a stadium) for a long time (like a game) and want to maintain battery life. Record the first few images with GPS and then turn it off. You can easily copy the data to the other images using image editing and browsing software.
And that approach works well for cameras without GPS radios, too.
A GPS camera provides a wealth of information about where your images were shot. That's not always a good thing.
If you post your photos publicly, you may not want to reveal location data that should remain private. Turn off GPS when you don't want location data written to the Exif header.
Lightroom 4 users can also block this information on export. That's a feature we wish we'd see everywhere.
But in the meantime you can use Phil Harvey's free ExifTool (http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/) to erase GPS data from the Exif header.
The Chinese government is sensitive about GPS logging, to put it mildly. And camera manufacturers have both admonished customers not to enable GPS in China (warning it may not work) and crippled the feature in their GPS cameras. France has similar issues with GPS, but for more on the Chinese effect, see Ogle Earth's analysis (http://ogleearth.com/2012/05/why-do-panasonic-leica-fujifilm-samsung-and-nikon-censor-their-gps-cameras/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ogleearth+%28Ogle+Earth%29).
Camera GPS trails smartphone GPS by a lot. We won't be checking for the next streetcar with our camera, for example, or finding out where we can get lunch nearby. But, on the other hand, certainly nobody is going to be tracking our location by our camera either.
We find it a bit disturbing how much the GPS feature varies among cameras. And we mean cameras not companies. Companies that have worked all this out nicely for one model oddly don't bother burning it into the firmware of its other GPS models.
That's why we came up with our checklist. Hope it helps you pin the tail on your donkey, too.
By MIKE TOMKINS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA.HTM on the Web site.)
When Canon announced the PowerShot G1 X, I found myself rather excited. It's been a while since I've owned a fixed-lens camera because (like many folks) I've found small-sensor models no longer offer an advantage over my smartphone for throwaway snapshots, yet typically bring a decided disadvantage when it comes to the ease and immediacy of sharing those images on social networks.
Mirrorless cameras haven't offered a sufficient size advantage over my dSLR and large-sensor compacts have been hobbled with prime lenses. Hence I've found myself with a large gap in my imaging tools between a basic smartphone for snapshots and a dSLR for more important photos.
My brief for this review, then, was twofold: to decide if this camera could serve as 1) a second camera and daily shooter for the dSLR owner and 2) a replacement for an interchangeable-lens camera for the photographer stepping up from a point-and-shoot. Or would the compromises simply be a step too far?
Straight out of the box, the Canon G1 X presented me with my first surprise. It's definitely smaller than a dSLR or CSC with equivalent lens and sensor, but it's not as compact as it might appear in the product photos.
"Chunky," is the word that springs immediately to mind. I began to question my belief it would offer sufficient advantage in terms of bulk over the alternatives.
I'm glad to say that a few weeks with the camera, though, my earlier hopes have been borne out. The G1 X has accompanied me on a quite a few day trips, including a long weekend in Niagara Falls and Toronto, where size and weight were at a premium. My dSLR, of course, didn't make the grade. While I could've jammed in a typical system camera and kit lens, I'd likely have ended up leaving something else at home.
The G1 X cut a good balance and, for the most part, didn't leave me feeling I'd lost any photo opportunities on my first visit to both Canada's largest city and one of North America's best-known landmarks.
Although its styling is rather angular, I found the G1 X pretty comfortable to shoot with and greatly appreciated control dials at both front and rear. The vari-angle LCD display was also a great feature, whether I was crouched trying to get a worm's eye view of the CN Tower or simply wanted reassuring that the LCD panel was safe from harm with the G1 X thrown in a shoulder bag as I ran around town. Simply turn the LCD to face inwards and nothing can touch it.
The overall control layout felt reasonably intuitive as well. The exposure compensation dial was much too easy to bump, though, something that almost cost me a series of blown exposures at Niagara.
I'd still like to see the size reduced, though. Simply get rid of the optical viewfinder. The view it provides is tunnel-like and far too loose to be of anything more than a vague guide to framing. Doubly so at wide angle, when something like an eighth of the frame at bottom left is obscured by the lens. It simply didn't feel useful after some initial shots that appeared little like what I saw through the viewfinder, so I simply stopped using it altogether.
Performance was something of a disappointment. I'm a full-time Raw shooter these days, although when I'm working on reviews, I shoot in Raw+JPEG so I can provide both formats. In addition to shooting all those heavy Raws, I also frequently bracket exposures for review purposes, to be sure of a JPEG that's in the ballpark.
That is simply not an enjoyable combination with the G1 X, for a number of reasons. The burst rate falls from an already fairly pedestrian 2.0 frames per second in JPEG mode to just 1.1 fps as soon as you enable Raw mode. And adding Raw+JPEG takes you down to just barely over 0.8 fps. Add in a bracketed exposure as well and the G1 X shoots all three exposures with a single press of the shutter button but doesn't give any live preview once shooting starts. Holding a camera steady without a tripod for at least 3.6 seconds, without anything except the small, inaccurate viewfinder to rely on is a frustrating experience, to say the least.
If you shoot solely in JPEG mode or you seldom bracket exposures, this will be less of an issue, but it's one to which I'm rather sensitive.
Several points of more concern to the average shooter relate to the G1 X's lens.
Macro photography is pretty common in a compact camera. Whether it's the occasional pictures of a pretty flower or interesting bug you want to show the family, or you're the kind of person who likes to share images of your every meal on Facebook, chances are good you shoot close-up more than every once in a while.
Unfortunately, the G1 X really doesn't get you that close. Anything much smaller than a dinner plate is not going to come anywhere near to filling the width of the frame. Its focusing is also sedate compared to most recent cameras, including mirrorless models that rely on contrast detection AF like G1 X. For relatively static scenes, the slow AF is something you can live with, but coupled with the rather modest burst shooting performance, it can make shooting unpredictable, moving subjects -- kids or animals, say -- a pretty painful experience.
Also, while you can get some nice bokeh at wide angle, the G1 X's aperture quickly narrows as you stray even a little way towards telephoto, which quickly reduces its advantage in terms of both shallow depth-of-field and light gathering capability. That's a bit of a shame. And battery life is fairly modest if you use the LCD, which given the viewfinder's issues, you almost certainly will. But I found it sufficed on my day trips and with overnight charging. Add an extra battery or two and you'd likely be fine for a couple of days.
Despite these complaints, I really did enjoy shooting with the G1 X. Macro performance aside, its lens really hit a sweet spot for me, with enough coverage on both ends of the range that I didn't feel I was making a sacrifice. (It actually offers about the same wide angle as the typical 18-55mm kit lens on an APS-C dSLR and some worthwhile extra reach at the telephoto end.) Better still, despite its relatively compact size, it manages to yield pretty good image quality, with good sharpness across the frame (although the corners are a bit soft at wide angle). Noise handling is also fairly good and I found myself happy to roam as high as the occasional ISO 3,200 shot, although most of my shooting was at ISO 1600 or below. At ISO 3200, you can certainly see the effects of noise reduction in finer details at 1:1 resolution. In terms of image quality, the G1 X was in a completely different league than small-sensor cameras -- as you'd expect, given the sensor size.
We discovered an issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA.HTM#leak) which we believe to be a light leak, referred to by Canon as the "glow dots" phenomenon. While it's unquestionably repeatable in certain circumstances, I have to say that it seems unlikely to present an issue in real-world shooting.
Certainly, after capturing somewhere around a thousand shots or more with the G1 X, I've yet to see the problem. If you're considering the G1 X, I wouldn't let this issue dissuade you. Make your decision based on the camera's other merits and shortcomings, which are likely to have a far greater impact on your day-to-day shooting.
You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XGALLERY.HTM.
So does it make a good accompaniment to a dSLR or system camera? Can it replace either?
The answer to the first question is a fairly enthusiastic, "Yes!" Certainly, there are things I'd like to see improved, most notably size, weight and performance -- shortcomings that are easier to overlook when you have a dSLR to fall back on. When the dSLR has to stay home though, the G1 X can give you results you really can't rival with a small-sensor camera. And you don't feel overly burdened with the G1 X on a shoulder strap or in a shoulder bag. I wouldn't have felt the same with a compact system camera requiring either a much larger lens or a couple of lenses to cover the same focal lengths. And I really did find myself using everything from wide angle to telephoto on a regular basis. Sure, I could've taken the typical compact travel zoom with me and had even more zoom range, but I wouldn't have been as happy with the images when I got back home.
As a alternative to an interchangeable lens camera for the photographer stepping up from a point-and-shoot, I think the Canon G1 X is a harder sell, though. The limited autofocus and burst performance coupled with the limited macro capabilities lead to frustration and missed photos. That's fine if you have a better camera you can switch to on those occasions, but if this is your only camera ... well, that leaves you in something of a pickle. If I were to choose only one camera, I'd have to give the G1 X a pass and go for a mirrorless camera or a dSLR.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Previewed: Pentax K-30 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/pentax-k30/pentax-k30A.HTM). Pentax reconfirms its commitment to the dSLR with this weather-sealed model for the rest of us.
- Reviewed: Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G X VARIO (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1518/cat/69)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot G1 X (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA.HTM)
At $128 the Steidl version of Edward Burtynsky's opus on the petroleum in our lives is out of reach for, well, 99 percent of us. Even with a 38 percent discount from the Imaging Resource affiliate deal (http://www.amazon.com/dp/3865219438/?tag=theimagingres-20).
But how about the iPad version at $9.99?
Coinciding with the opening of the photographer's solo exhibition at The Photographer's Gallery (http://www.photonet.org.uk/index.php?pxid=968) in London May 1, the app by Melcher Media presents the exhibit in three slide shows. There's also some hefty critical literature that follows that plus two related slide shows.
The three main slide shows feature a video walk-through of that part of the exhibit with Burtynsky plus the easily enlarged images with hidden text captions include mapping information. Many of them also include a very informative audio caption.
Good thing, too, because you have never seen anything like this.
"In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany," Burtynsky writes in the introduction. "It occurred to me that all the vast man-altered landscapes I had pursued for over 20 years had been made possible by the discovery of oil and the progress occasioned by the internal combustion engine."
For 12 years he photographed refineries, freeways, auto plants and scrap yards before diving into what he calls "motor culture, where vast tribes come together with vehicles as the main attraction."
The result is this three-part look at the oil industry: Extraction and Refinement, Transportation and Motor Culture, and The End of Oil.
Extraction and Refinement starts with a few aerial shots of the 100-year-old oil fields in Bakersfield, Calif. that seem to mimic the abstract expressionist canvases of 1950s. But they quickly move into ground level shots of the pump jacks, where Burtynsky actually first starting shooting these scenes.
Then he moves on to Alberta, Canada, showing us how a pipeline floats on risers to accommodate fluctuations in temperature and explaining how the steam line is inside the oil lines in case a trucker accidentally runs into them. Steam would kill him instantly but oil wouldn't.
We see the oil sands in northern Alberta from the air as he explains the process of extracting oil from sand, which is more predominant than surface mining. For a shot of a tailing pond he tells the story of a flock of 2,000 ducks that landed in the pond of toxic oil never to fly off again.
He moves on to New Brunswick oil refineries before a few shots of Houston refineries. Burtynsky explains all the products that can be derived from crude oil from jet fuel to plastics to asphalt. It's quite an education.
Burtynsky found these refineries a form of "industrial architecture" that reminded him of a cathedral.
At the end of the chapter, there's a brief text description and the video walkthrough at the exhibit.
Transportation and Motor Culture begins with an aerial shot of the asphalt highways leading into downtown Houston, "a city that grew out of the riches of oil." More aerials of highways follow, featuring Shanghai, Los Angeles, the New Jersey Turnpike and North Las Vegas.
Then it's back to Houston and Shanghai with aerial shots of the Volkswagen lots in each city before Burtynsky takes us to the Bonneville Slat Flats, Talledega Speedway, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and an intersection off the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Breezewood, Penn.
Beautiful if a bit embarrassing portraits of our love of the internal combustion engine.
The End of Oil takes us to the ancient, abandoned Socar oil fields in Azerbaijan, which are being revived with the increase in the price of oil. Then he moves to Tucson, Ariz. where the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center holds over 4,500 aircraft being mothballed or recycled. Still in Tucson, we see row after row of old cars at the wreckers before a few shots of densified auto parts in Ontario, Canada.
Which brings us to the Oxford tire pile in Westley, Calif, which Burtynsky shot just before lightning struck and it burned for 30 days in 1999.
In some of the most unearthly images in the collection, Burtynsky takes us to Bangladesh. There the mud at low tide facilitates grounding old tankers, which are then hauled further into shore by men pulling huge chains. The tankers are broken up for scrap and pulled further and further in by workers paid 10 cents an hour.
In addition to the chapters devoted to the exhibition images, the app includes two additional slide shows.
Detroit Motor City starts in Henry Ford's design studio for the Model T before touring the abandoned factories that housed the Ford assembly line, built those bodies by Fisher and assembled Packards. It's colorful yet bleak stuff, not a soul in the shots.
Gulf of Mexico includes aerial shots of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. It's remarkable, given how much video footage we saw of this disaster, how unfamiliar these shots are. Burtynsky truly raises the bar from journalism to art in these images.
Burtynsky's photos of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of over 50 major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Now they can be on your iPad too (http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/burtynsky-oil/id524467450?mt=8).
Megazoom, uberzoom, ultrazoom, superzoom, whatever you call them they kick sand in the face of your smartphone. Lots of sand.
It turns out there are quite a few cameras in this class these days, too.
Our database reports there are 71 current cameras offering more than a 12x zoom factor (which we'll arbitrarily assign to the long zoom category). And 47 of those offer 20x or more with 13 boasting 30x or more. There's even one over 40x.
The zoom multiplier (that 30x number, for example) is a pretty good but not perfect measure of a camera's reach. It's actually relative to the wide angle focal length so you have to keep both numbers in mind. The wider that wide angle is, the farther away that multiplier leaves you.
Simplifying the math, if we have a 20x zoom that starts at 24mm and one that starts at 35mm, which one gets you closer? They're both 20x zooms, but the first only goes to 480mm while the second one reaches 700mm. So you have to know the starting point to evaluate the zoom multiplier.
Good news there, too.
Every one of those 71 cameras starts from a wide angle focal length of no more than 28mm in a 35mm equivalent (which is how we'll conduct this part of the discussion). But 36 of them (which is about half) start at 24mm or less (two at 23mm). Another 20 start at 25mm.
These superzooms, in short, aren't starting in front of the line to get their long reach. There are no superzooms that start at 35mm.
We count 30 cameras that exceed 600mm, 13 surpass 700mm, 7 are over 800mm and one stands out at 1,000mm with zoom multipliers that range from 24x to 42x.
Let's name names, too. Here's the list of the cameras exceeding 700mm:
Nikon Coolpix P510 (1008mm), Olympus SP-810UZ (864mm), Canon PowerShot SX40 HS (840mm), Kodak EasyShare Max (840mm), Nikon Coolpix P500 (828mm), Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V (810mm), Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V (810mm), Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR (720mm), Fujifilm FinePix HS25EXR (720mm), Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR (720mm), Fujifilm FinePix S4000 (720mm), Fujifilm FinePix S4500 (720mm) and Fujifilm FinePix SL300 (720mm).
While this sounds great for sports shooters (which would be anyone with kids) and birders, there is one little problem.
With image stabilization something a requirement for any superzoom, it is possible to get a sharp image hand holding the camera at their longest focal lengths. But the problem that isn't as easily solved is composing the image. Even with image stabilization, the image floats around the frame. You try to time your exposure to its movement but snapping the Shutter button introduces another variable.
The solution to that is, of course, a tripod (or even a monopod).
But who's complaining? Using a superzoom to get closer to your subject saves shoe leather and gasoline. And you don't have to tilt your chair back to get a view of the whole room with their wide angle starting points, too. It's really the best of both worlds.
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 about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee92fbe
Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2a8
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Any time you press the Shutter button, you're being creative. But the fun of being creative doesn't stop there.
A few issues ago we described an afternoon we spent with the photographer Arthur Tress. And then we described a print we made after spending an afternoon shooting like Arthur Tress.
We mentioned how his prints from the 1960s were square black and whites, something you just don't see these days. And how we set up an Olympus E-PL1 to shoot monochrome at a 1:1 aspect ratio to mimic that approach.
Our print was a grid of 12 of those images, telling the story of our afternoon. And because the horizons were askew in all of them, we decided to let the squares rotate so all the horizons would be level.
And we really liked that effect.
We were less enamored of square black and white shooting, though. We're just used to seeing color in the LCD and composing a 3:2 or 16:9 image. Shooting square black and whites felt a little like wearing a tux rather than shorts and sandals.
But, we told ourselves yesterday as we were about to leave the bunker, Tress didn't have that option. His camera shot squares. He could only afford black and white film.
And if he could shoot year after year that way, we could do it for another afternoon, too. Who knows, we might learn something.
So we set the E-PL1 to use a 1:1 aspect ratio and set the color to monochrome and left the house.
We didn't take a shot all afternoon.
Late in the day we wondered why we hadn't taken the camera out of its holster. Were we being stubborn?
No, not really. We just didn't see anything. Simple as that.
Except in San Francisco, you can't actually go for hours without seeing something. Sooner more likely than later, you bump into something that just captivates you.
We'd taken a bus to Fort Mason, walked west along the Marina into a strong wind and kept going through Crissy Field. That leads you, eventually, to Fort Winfield Scott, a Civil War relic, at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's closed during the week for repairs these days but that wasn't what we were looking at.
We were looking at the bridge.
It's a structure we've been looking at for decades in all sorts of situations. But had we ever photographed it as a square black and white? Wouldn't a square format sort of, you know, box it in? Cramp the scene?
We took a series of images for the next half hour or so. You can see a subset of them on our personal site (http://www.mikepasini.com) if you click on the thumbnail.
But we had to laugh when we reviewed them on the bus coming back. Some of them were rotated. We'd turned the camera into a portrait orientation to shoot the tall subjects even though the aspect ratio was square. Old habits die hard.
We liked our shots. It was just a few days before the 75th anniversary of the opening of the bridge. And these black and whites were something of an inadvertent tribute to it, it seemed to us.
We really didn't want to make another 13x19 print with 12 images, though. So we went through the shoot settling on the smallest number we really liked. That was three.
One was of the complex iron structure that supports the San Francisco end of the bridge over the old fort. The fort couldn't be moved, so the bridge had to stretched over it. And this iron archway was how that was done. We used to print this image (in color) as a CD jewel case cover for our operating system rescue CDs. It's always been poetry to us.
The second image was of the bridge itself, both towers, taken from the road to the fort. You can get splashed standing there but the tide was out so we were safe. We'd had to wait for someone to walk out of the shot but when we took it, there was nothing in the scene that said 2012. It could easily have been 1937.
The last image was really the last one we shot. We've always liked the iron chain that keeps pedestrians from the rocks because as thick as it is, it is always peeling iron like an onion. It's the salt air. If you've ever been to Alcatraz, you've seen the problem. The bridge avoids it by being constantly painted over.
We had taken a few images of the chains looking past them into the surf on the rocks. But then we squatted down and took them against the soft background of just the bay and the hills beyond. The chain seemed to bar the viewer of the photo itself from the beauty.
We had a little work to do on each of them.
Taken against the sun, the iron structure was flat. We had to bump up the contrast and sharpen it.
The bridge suffered converging verticals, not a good thing when the subject is two tall towers and cables running in parallel. So we distorted the image to get everything aligned.
The chains needed their horizon straightened, some sharpening and a little more contrast. We thought about letting the square rotate, as we had for our 13x19, but one square rotating seemed like the sound of one hand clapping.
We did all that but not on the first pass, not for any of the tasks. We went too far, we fell shy, we fiddled and fedaddled until we found the effect we most preferred. It was fun, not work.
Then we made some scratch prints, sketches in fact, on an HP Envy serving temporarily as the office printer. We weren't ready to evaluate every aspect of these images as prints yet. We just wanted three images printed on 4x6 paper to look at and play with on the drawing table.
We put them on a larger white sheet of paper and tried them in different positions but came back to the original order. The bridge, after all, has to be central, even if the chain ties the two together. And the iron structure leads you from left to right, so it didn't belong on the right.
We could have tried them top to bottom instead of left to right but they are all horizontals. Your eye flows across them horizontally not vertically.
So we had a triptych.
We still had to choose a page size, a paper and a printer. And those choices would require their own optimizations that evolved into a commemorative poster as well.
But as we said, that's the fun of it. And fun, like the bridge itself, is the way you get over the strong cold current of convention.
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RE: Rotating Video
This was so timely ... my daughter and I went to London and Paris for our 65th and 45th birthdays in early May and I shot a video of her watching the lights come up on the Eiffel Tower. Her face as she sees this wonderful sight is an image I didn't want to miss. Unfortunately I propped my camera up in the vertical position and shot away.
Thanks to your instructions I now have a rotated version to enjoy. I'm glad I didn't dump all those other "oops" videos (some of us don't learn very easily and it takes repetition, repetition, repetition).
-- Joyce Stein(Hurray! It sure beats watching them lying down! -- Editor)
Regarding the question on flipping video shot in portrait mode in the May 18 Newsletter: Just open it in Picasa and you can flip video like a still. Easy.
-- Martin Hellewell(Thanks, Martin! -- Editor)
Since you have raised the subject of Lightroom 4, I'll mention that to my surprise it was bundled with my new Windows 7 Pro 64. I'm "into" photobooks, so I started one using Lightroom's Book feature. I assumed it was designed for Blurb because that's where orders for a finished Book are directed.
Well, after creating 20 pages of my Book, I got into trouble and wrote Blurb for help. It turns out that Blurb's software is different and Blurb advised me to start my book all over again using it instead of Lightroom Book. Annoying!
-- Ron Light(Yes, Lightroom's book feature is a Blurb front-end. But Blurb didn't write it. So if you're having a problem with your Lightroom 4 book, the trick is to get help from a Lightroom source. Blurb was less than helpful in suggesting otherwise. -- Editor)
RE: Comparing Images
I was comparing images from the Canon S95 and S100 on the Web site. It seems that the images are in JPEG format, not Raw. I wonder why Raw format is not tested (for cameras that have Raw capability)? This would seem a much better test since any JPEG processing in the camera would hide the true results of the sensor. It would be nice to see test results before pre-processing has taken place (i.e. Raw format).
-- Gary Nordvall(Well, that's the trouble with Raw, Gary. It's not an image, just data. So you can't see anything at all until that data has been processed. Even then, you only see a subset of the data captured. But it's theoretically the subset you prefer. All is not lost, however. The thumbnail and gallery pages contain a link to Raw files for selected images. You can download, process and compare for yourself. -- Editor)
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released Lightroom 4 [MW] with additional camera Raw support, lens profile support and bug fixes plus HDR TIFF processing and additional Color Fringing corrections to address chromatic aberration.
Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 for CS6 is also now available through the Creative Suite updating mechanism, adding Defringe controls for chromatic aberration and HDR TIFF support. DNG Converter 7.1 is available for customers of earlier Photoshop releases.
The company also released Adobe Drive 4 [M] (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=5397) to enable integration of a digital asset management system with supported Creative Suite 6 applications.
Configurator 3 preview (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/configurator/) is also now available, with several new features and support for Photoshop CS6 and InDesign CS6.
DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released Optics Pro 7.5 with a 64-bit install on supported machines, faster previews and processing, support for much larger files, support for the Nikon D800 (in the 64-bit install only), 181 new lens/camera combinations and more. Special pricing is available through June 30.
In addition, DxO's Nicolas Touchard hosts a behind-the-scenes peek (http://youtu.be/BiyUmM8yi4Y) at the company's calibration process.
Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1538) has released Aperture 3.2.4 [M] with a number of fixes and enhancements.
The company also released its 8-MB Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.13 (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1535) for Aperture 3 and iPhoto '11 support of the Canon EOS-1D X, Nikon D800E/D3200, Olympus OM-D E-M5, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5 and Sony Alpha SLT-A57.
Cookie break (http://blog.luminarium.org/2012/05/medieval-illuminated-initial-cookies.html). But they're medieval illuminated initial cookies you can print on your Canon or Epson inkjet with edible paper and cartridges loaded with food coloring (http://www.inkedibles.com/?gclid=CKm8wLjwm7ACFQ5rhwodLBFsXQ).
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has released its $199 Media Pro 1.2 [MW] with better support for exporting annotations/metadata to XMP sidecars, export of catalog sets, custom fields, hierarchical keywords to XMP sidecars, new preferences for importing annotations/metadata, support for images from additional cameras when using the Phase One renderer and more.
Rocky Nook has published Create Your Own Photo Book by Petra Vogt with advice on using Blurb and Picaboo, plus discussion of book design, color management and digital printing. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 35 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/193395292x/?tag=theimagingres-20).
The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released ColorStyler with over 20 effect types, 600 presets and masking options.
XPro Software (http://www.xprosoftware.com) is giving away GeniuX Photo EFX3 using a 32-bit color graphic engine for refined color gradations, black and white management, professional color processing, noise removal, photomontage and background removal.
Getty Images has announced a partnership with Google on the World Wonders Project (http://www.google.com/worldwonders) which uses Google's Street View technology to virtually explore 132 historic sites, ranging from Stonehenge to Pompeii. Getty Images archival collection of over 80 million images will be used to add insight and background to the heritage sites.
Pholium (http://www.pholium.com) has released Pholium 1.1, replacing PDF output for non-app viewers with a Web viewer with options to share the book on social networks, increased sharing to an unlimited number of people free for 30 days before requiring a Pholda purchase for additional sharing, enhanced slide show controls, expiration alerts and more.
Tamron has launched its free Tamron Lenses & How-To app for Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.moblico.tamron) and iOS (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tamron-lenses-how-to/id525544564?mt=8). The app will be especially useful for photographers who are out in the field shooting and would like a quick tip on how to create a better shot through the many articles and videos tailoring to specific situations and photographic environments.
Barrel Man Apps has released Revolution Mosaic in the App Store (http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/revolution-mosaic/id504988698?ls=1&mt=8) to combine up to 360,000 iPhone photos from around the world to create one single mosaic image to symbolize the mobile generation. Once 360,000 photos are uploaded to the Revolution Mosaic, Barrel Man Apps plans to transform the app into a platform of multiple mosaics.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $39.95 GraphicConverter 8.0 [M], a complete rewrite with 64-bit support, large image support (over 16000x16000 pixels), EMF and EMZ import, new batch operations and more. d
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.0.96 [LMW] with support for new Canon scanners and a fix for newer monitor profiles.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher