Amazon's Fine Photography Marketplace
Friday, August 16, 2013
I do a whole lot of my shopping online via Amazon.com. I've purchased everything from books to shoes at the site, and I'm happy to learn I can now purchase fine art from there too—including fine photography from the biggest names in the genre. Amazon has announced its beta version of the Amazon Fine Art Marketplace, which includes everything from million dollar Warhols to a section of works priced under $200—and, of course, fine photography. Before the artist in you devises a plan to take your print sales to the world's largest retailer, take note that you need gallery representation. Since the Fine Art sales are part of Amazon's Marketplace, only actual art dealers and galleries can sign up to sell via the service; it's not open to individual artists. I wonder if it will increase sales of fine art in general? Making fine photography easily reachable to the masses sure seems like a good idea. It looks like we're about to find out.
A Conversation With World-Class Portrait Photographers
Thursday, August 15, 2013
There are a handful of editorial portrait photographers I hold in the highest regard. Peter Yang and Mark Seliger are among them, and they're both featured in this video, along with Steven Alan—who I must admit I was not particularly familiar with prior to this video. Seliger interviews Yang and Alan on his internet TV show, Capture. It's always an interesting watch for fans of commercial photography—and this episode is no exception. It's a great opportunity to sit in with some world class photographers as they discuss their work. For my own take on Yang's work, check out the 2010 Master's Issue of Digital Photo Pro, linked below.
A Year On Mars In Pictures
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Yesterday I shared a beautiful image of Earth from outer space, so it only seems fair that today I bring you a collection of photos of Mars made right from the surface of the planet. It's been a year since NASA's Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, and what a year it's been. That little rover has been busy, thankfully, documenting its experience via several onboard cameras. This collection of images at The Atlantic shows everything from panoramic Martian landscapes (which look a lot like the desert Southwest of the United States) to detail shots of the surface of the planet before, during and after scientific experiments from the rover have taken place.
Earth's Seasonal Heartbeat
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Combine a dozen crystal clear satellite mosaic images of Earth, one from each month over the course of a year, and turn them into an animated GIF. What would you see? If your angle of view was directly over the north pole, you'd see the seasonal changes of vegetation and ice as they advance and recede, and they would appear to pulsate—like a heartbeat. It's a pretty remarkable image made by designer/cartographer/data-visualizer John Nelson of NASA's Visible Earth team. It's the kind of thing that we never would have seen a decade ago, reminding me yet again what an amazing era of images in which we're living.
A Very Special Camera
Monday, August 12, 2013
Are you in the market for a new compact mirrorless camera? Might I suggest the Olympus Pen E-P5? In fact, might I suggest a pair of them? And how about having them custom painted by a real live artist? Here's the deal: Harrods of London, a luxury department store that defines the term "upscale," is the only place to get this deal. It's a kit that includes two hand-painted cameras and a matching custom-painted Vespa scooter, naturally. For just about $25,000 you get a pair of $1,000 cameras and a scooter that typically sells for around $7,000. So, you know, the painting is really well done. Oh, it also includes a half dozen lenses, a flash and a viewfinder. Still not convinced? Okay, they'll throw in a bag too. This kit practically sells itself!
Quick Fix Fridays: Analyze This
Friday, August 9, 2013
As photographers, it's important for us to analyze our images — to see what went right, so we can have repeat successes, as well as to see what went wrong, so we can avoid mistakes.
To illustrate how we can analyze an image, I thought I'd analyze the opening image for this post. Here goes. The letters in the image correspond to my analysis.
A and B. Due to the extreme contrast range in the scene, HDR (high dynamic range photography) was needed to bring out the detail in the dark interior, as well as to maintain detail outside. I took three exposures (0E=V, +2 EV and -2RV) and combined them into a HDR image using Nik HDR Efex Pro.
C. To make the model stand out in the image, I framed her upper body in the red frame on the background wall.
D and E. To get everything in the scene in focus, I used a wide-angle lens, small aperture and focused 1/3 into the scene. Remember, just because you have an autofocus camera, that does not mean your camera knows where to focus.
F. The main subject is positioned off center, which is a basic rule of composition.
G. To bring out the texture in the interior, I used the Spicify filter in Topaz Adjust.
One final comment on this image, which can be applied to all your images: Never underestimate the importance of an interesting subject.
Have fun analyzing your images this weekend.
Got questions? Drop by my website at www.ricksammon.com.
KaleidoCamera Brings Light Field Focus To The DSLR
Friday, August 9, 2013
If you were intrigued by the Lytro camera's capabilities, but less than thrilled with the lipstick case form factor, then perhaps the prototype for the KaleidoCamera will be exactly what you're after. Think of the KaleidoCamera sort of like an extension tube with a prism inside, and the prism splits the incoming image into several different beams that pass through a filter before arriving at the camera's sensor. Placed between a normal lens and a DSLR, the KaleiodoCamera can be adjusted to isolate individual colors, or record different tone curves (for HDR compositing) or even to deliver light field imaging (for adjusting focus and depth of field after capture). It's currently just a prototype, but to my eye at least it represents how the Lytro's light field technology can eventually make its way into more traditional photographic workflows. Read more, including some detailed tech specs, at DP Review.
The Next Little Thing: Body Cap Lenses
Thursday, August 8, 2013
A few years back, the new thing in little prime lenses was the pancake lens. These super-compact prime lenses were, and still are, pretty affordable, and they appeal to photographers who want to shoot with wide-to-normal primes that are super compact and keep the camera's size and weight to a minimum. Well now the next big thing in little lenses is the body cap with the lens built in. Taking a cue from the folks who turn their DSLRs into pinhole cameras via the body cap, two new lenses from Olympus and Pentax set new standards for small size and low price. There's the Pentax Mount Shield Lens (for Q-mount cameras) which produces a dreamy, low-fi effect. And there's the Olympus Body Cap Lens, a tiny 3-element 15mm lens with a fixed aperture (it fits Micro Four Thirds cameras). These "lenses" are inexpensive ($49 for the Olympus, $79 for the Pentax) which makes me wonder if they actually produce anything useful. But I've seen samples, and while they're not on par with real expensive lenses, they're no joke. The more I think about it, these things are super-inexpensive for lenses, but pretty darn expensive for plain old body caps. If you've played with a body cap lens, I'd love to have you chime in via the comments below. Should we all pack one of these things, or would we be better served by some other quirky photographic accessory? I'm intrigued.