Did you know that the original Star Wars lightsaber was made using antique camera parts?
For A New Hope, the original film prop hilts were constructed by John Stears from old press camera flash battery packs and other pieces of hardware. [#] The 3-cell Graflex flashgun was modified and used as the prop for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. A black grip was added and the circular bulb housing was obviously removed, but little else was changed to create the lightsaber prop. [#]
Do a search on eBay and you’ll find plenty of people selling these flash units as “lightsabers”.
For photo enthusiasts, Google’s new Google+ social network is something like Flickr mixed with Facebook. It has the social sharing power of Facebook while providing features and tools Flickr users would appreciate thanks to the fact that Google runs a full-fledged photo-sharing service in Picasa (soon to be brought into the Google+ fold and renamed Google Photos). One such feature is the EXIF data section, easily accessed for each photo by Action->Photo Details. Most Facebook users would likely be confused by having a histogram pop up for their images, but for loyal Picasa users using Google+ for sharing and viewing photos, it’s quite a nifty option.
Street photographer Eric Kim generated some buzz last month by recording himself shooting on the street with a GoPro mounted to his Leica M9. Now, he’s back again with an even cooler point of view: through the Leica M9’s viewfinder itself. This 10 minute video of Kim doing street photography in Santa Monica was recorded using a HTC EVO 4G smartphone stuck to the back of his camera.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if this kind of footage existed for all the iconic photographs taken throughout history?
When Lomography teamed up with Threadless for a t-shirt design contest back in 2008, nearly 400 photography-related designs were submitted. This one by Sebastian Guadarrama Gomez, titled “Striped Bird”, was crowned as the winner. You can check out all the other submitted designs here — there’s a lot of awesome ones that we’d love to wear.
Five years ago, web designer Matthew McVickar decided to give one lucky disposable camera a free vacation, sending it through the mail from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Honolulu, Hawaii with the instructions “Take a photo before you pass it on!”. When he got the camera back, there were seven photographs taken by various workers in the United States Postal Service that show the cameras journey (and the inner workings of the USPS!). Read more…
Earlier this week the New York Times was lent a mysterious photo album that contained 214 photos of Nazi Germany, including images taken just feet away from Hitler. There was no indication of who the photographer was, so the Lens blog decided to publish some of the photos and crowdsource the task of solving the mystery. Read more…
A company called Lytro has just launched with $50 million in funding and, unlike Color, the technology is pretty mind-blowing. It’s designing a camera that may be the next giant leap in the evolution of photography — a consumer camera that shoots photos that can be refocused at any time. Instead of capturing a single plane of light like traditional cameras do, Lytro’s light-field camera will use a special sensor to capture the color, intensity, and vector direction of the rays of light (data that’s lost with traditional cameras).
[…] the camera captures all the information it possibly can about the field of light in front of it. You then get a digital photo that is adjustable in an almost infinite number of ways. You can focus anywhere in the picture, change the light levels — and presuming you’re using a device with a 3-D ready screen — even create a picture you can tilt and shift in three dimensions. [#]
Try clicking the sample photograph above. You’ll find that you can choose exactly where the focus point in the photo is as you’re viewing it! The company plans to unveil their camera sometime this year, with the goal of having the camera’s price be somewhere between $1 and $10,000… Check out more sample photos here
We shared a video of Canon’s Image Stabilization technology in action in the beginning of the year, but that was on a pro telephoto lens and inside a glass display case. What would the same technology look like in a cheaper, consumer lens? Preston over at Camera Technica decided to find out, disassembling a Canon 18-55mm kit lens to capture this short video of the IS mechanism in action. I had no idea the thing used springs, did you?
What if you could take perfect group photographs by first shooting multiple frames and then selecting the best portions of each one? Microsoft amazed us with this concept last year with its Photo Fuse technology, and now we may soon be seeing something similar coming to mobile phone cameras (and hopefully compact cameras as well). Imaging technology company Scalado gave the above demonstration at a conference earlier this month showing off Rewind, a super-useful feature that shoots a burst of full-res photos, then lets you select the best faces for each person in the image. Next up on our wishlist: Content Aware Fill.
Hacker Rob Flickenger wasn’t satisfied with ordinary photographs of his ongoing Tesla coil experiments, so he decided to shoot Matrix-style “bullet time” images to capture “3D lightning”. He purchased 10 Canon A470 cameras and configured them to function as a single 70-megapixel 10-angle camera.
Why that particular camera? Partly because I found someone dumping a bunch of them on eBay for cheap, but also because they run CHDK, the infamous scriptable firmware for Canon cameras. This let me write some code to streamline the process of taking ten photos all at once, and then get them off of the cameras in a reasonable manner. By wiring all of them to the same 10-port USB hub, and using CHDK’s syncable USB remote feature, I was able to wire up a single button to make all of the cameras fire at once.
His hard work paid off, and Flickenger managed to capture some pretty unique shots of his Tesla coil in action.