While a number of countries are taking steps to ban the unrealistic Photoshopping of models, Israel has gone a step further: the country has banned the use of underweight models themselves. Additionally, ads that are Photoshopped to make models look skinnier must also now carry a disclaimer. With the new law in place, all models appearing at photo shoots for ads geared toward the Israeli market must provide an up-to-date medical report proving that they aren’t malnourished by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standards. WHO states that a body mass index below 18.5 indicates malnutrition. By these standards, a woman 5’8” tall must weigh at least 119 pounds.
I’ve always been fascinated by pancake lenses. It just amazes me that something that small can actually function. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve been taking things apart to determine where and how (and sometimes if) the lenses can be adjusted optically. So, I decided to do two pancake lenses for mirrorless cameras side-by-side to see how they differed (the Sony 16mm f/2.8 E mount and the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 micro 4/3 mount). I wasn’t sure there would be much we could do with pancakes (and there wasn’t), but I still found the look inside rather interesting. Read more…
YouTube user Roy Prol created this fascinating animation that imagines what Earth would be like if our planet had Saturn-like rings. In addition to views from space, he show us beautiful renderings of what the rings would look like in landscape photos captured at famous landmarks (e.g. the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro) around the world.
Singapore-based photographer Aw Zinkie‘s photo series “Republic of Pulau Semakau” explores the idea of a trash bin being an essential part of an individual’s personal space, and a way of examining their identity. Her portraits show the subjects in their personal environments with their faced replaced by held up trash bins. The series also highlights issues of waste management in Singapore, and the fact that every individual’s trash causes them to become a “founder” of the offshore Semakau Landfill. Read more…
Here’s a fascinating video by NASA that explains what auroras are and what they look like from space. It’s filled with beautiful photographs and time-lapse sequences captured by astronauts on the International Space Station. Astronaut photographer Don Pettit, who maintains a blog about his experiences, writes that taking pictures of Earth is harder than it looks:
Even with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, eight meters (26 feet) of motion occurs during the exposure. Our 400-millimeter telephoto lens has a resolution of less than three meters on the ground. Simply pointing at a target and squeezing the shutter always yields a less-than-perfect image, and precise manual tracking must be done to capture truly sharp pictures. It usually takes a new space station crewmember a month of on-orbit practice to use the full capability of this telephoto lens.
Another surprisingly difficult aspect of Earth photography is capturing a specific target. If I want to take a picture of Silverton, Oregon, my hometown, I have about 10 to 15 seconds of prime nadir (the point directly below us) viewing time to take the picture. If the image is taken off the nadir, a distorted, squashed projection is obtained. If I float up to the window and see my target, it’s too late to take a picture. If the camera has the wrong lens, the memory card is full, the battery depleted, or the camera is on some non-standard setting enabled by its myriad buttons and knobs, the opportunity will be over by the time the situation is corrected. And some targets like my hometown, sitting in the middle of farmland, are low-contrast and difficult to find. If more than a few seconds are needed to spot the target, again the moment is lost. All of us have missed the chance to take that “good one.” Fortunately, when in orbit, what goes around comes around, and in a few days there will be another chance.
After the disaster occurred, the first thing the people who lost their loved ones and houses came to look for was their photographs. Only humans take moments to look back at their pasts, and I believe photographs play a big part in that.
Back in 2010 we shared that MIT was developing a special camera that uses echoes of light to see around corners. Now, two years later, the researchers are finally showing off the camera in action. It works by firing 50 “femtosecond” (quadrillionth of a second) laser pulses 60 times at various spots at an angled wall. A special imaging sensor then collects the scattered light that’s reflected back and uses complex algorithms to piece together the scene based on how long the photons take to return. The process currently takes several minutes, but researchers hope to reduce it to less than 10 seconds, which would make it more useful for military and industrial applications.
After his Beijing studio was destroyed in 2005, artist Liu Bolin (AKA “The Invisible Man”) began a project titled “Hiding in the City” that show him blending into various locations around Beijing. The photographs aren’t Photoshopped — Bolin carefully has his body painted to blend in with each landscape. TIME writes,
Each image requires meticulous planning and execution: as both artist and performer, Bolin directs the photographer on how to compose each scene before entering the frame. Once situated, he puts on his Chinese military uniform, which he wears for all of his Invisible Man photographs, and, with the help of an assistant and painter, is painted seamlessly into the scene. This process can sometimes take up to ten hours with Bolin having to stand perfectly still. Although the end result of Bolin’s process is the photograph, the tension between his body and the landscape is itself a manifestation of China’s incredible social and physical change. [#]
Photo enthusiast Chris Malcolm needed a better way to aim his 500mm lens at fast moving subjects (e.g. birds in flight), so he upgraded his lens with a DIY sighting aid by attaching a non-magnified red dot sight:
They’re designed to clamp onto a gun sight wedge mount, so some kind of adapter is required. I played with the hot shoe mount, but it was too flexible — the sight needed re-zeroing at every mount, and was easily knocked out of calibration. The degree of precision required to aim the central focus sensor at the target via the dot also made parallax error a problem on the hot shoe. So I decided to mount it directly on the lens. Least parallax error, plus the geometry of the lens barrel and the sight mount naturally lines it up with the lens. To protect the lens barrel I glued the sight clamp to a cardboard tube slightly too small, slit open to provide a sprung grab on the lens body. The slit also handily accommodates the focus hold button on the lens barrel.
Malcolm reports that the site “works amazingly well”, making it “trivially easy to aim the lens at anything very quickly”. Read more…