Did you know that in addition to making his famous landscape images, Ansel Adams made ends meet by shooting commercial work? Although he made photos for clients as large as IBM, AT&T, and LIFE, Adams didn’t like his job. In a 1938 letter to a friend, he wrote,
I have to do something in the relatively near future to regain the right track in photography. I am literally swamped with “commercial” work — necessary for practical reasons, but very restraining to my creative work. [#]
It was around this time that one of his photos was chosen for the cover of LIFE magazine — a cover that’s now considered one of the publications 20 worst covers. LIFE notes, that shortly after the issue was published, “the photographer stopped taking pictures of lutists and began photographing Yosemite.”
(via LIFE via The Atlantic Wire via Photojojo)
If you’re a vegan film photographer, you might want to think about switching to digital. Why? Because virtually all photographic films and papers are made with animal parts. Most of the thickness in film comes from gelatin, which is used to hold the silver halide crystals in an emulsion. Gelatin is made from animal hides and bones — mainly cows and pigs. People have tried to come up with substitutes, but they haven’t been able to find anything suitable that’s as stable or cheap as gelatin.
Ever wonder why most DSLR cameras capture images with a 3:2 aspect ratio, while most other cameras use 4:3? It’s because they were designed to match different things:
Common aspect ratios in still photography include 4:3 (1.33) used by most digital point-and-shoot cameras, Four Thirds system cameras and medium format 645 cameras; 3:2 (1.5) used by 35 mm film, APS-C (“classic” mode) and most DSLRs;
[…] The reason for DSLR image sensors being the flatter 3:2 versus the taller point-and-shoot 4:3 is that DSLRs were designed to match the legacy 35 mm SLR film, whereas the majority of digital cameras were designed to match the predominant computer displays of the time, with VGA, SVGA, XGA and UXGA all being 4:3. [#]
Prints have been around longer than digital cameras, so that’s why your compact camera photos are cropped when you try to have them printed as standard 4×6 prints (4×6 prints have an aspect ratio of 3:2).
Aspect ratio [Wikipedia]
Image credit: Aspect Ratio by schani
Here’s a fun entry to add to your brain’s collection of “totally random facts about the world”: Nikon’s 52mm lens caps will fit neatly on most beverage cans. 52mm isn’t just a common diameter for camera lenses… it’s also an international standard diameter for can tops!
Sorry Canonites, your lens caps don’t really work for this.
Image credit: Photograph by kokotron and used with permission
If you think about it, there are many parallels between Apple and Polaroid: both companies introduced innovative products that redefined markets in their time, both were founded by college dropouts, and both emphasized design and usability in their products. What you might not know is that it’s not a coincidence. Christopher Bonanos wrote a fascinating article for the New York Times on how Steve Jobs idolized Polaroid founder Edwin Land and modeled his career after Land’s:
The two men met at least twice. John Sculley, the Apple C.E.O. who eventually clashed with Jobs, was there for one meeting, when Jobs made a pilgrimage to Land’s labs in Cambridge, Mass., and wrote in his autobiography that both men described a singular experience: “Dr. Land was saying: ‘I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me, before I had ever built one.’ And Steve said: ‘Yeah, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.’ He said, If I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like, they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I had to go and create it and then show it to people and say, ‘Now what do you think?’”
The worldview he was describing perfectly echoed Land’s: “Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.”
Both men were also kicked out of the companies they built, but that’s where the stories differ. Jobs returned to Apple a decade later and his company went on to become the world’s largest tech firm, while Land died a decade later and his company has filed for bankruptcy twice since 2001.
The Man Who Inspired Jobs [New York Times]
Cell phone photography is a huge trend these days with Instagram skyrocketing past 10 million users this past weekend, but have you ever wondered how it all started? An entrepreneur named Philippe Kahn is credited with creating the camera phone back in 1997. On June 11th of that year, Kahn took the first “camera phone” photo of his newborn daughter in a maternity ward, and then wirelessly transmitted the photo to more than 2,000 people around the world. Since “camera phones” didn’t exist at that time, Kahn actually hacked together a primitive one by combining a digital camera and a cell phone to send the photos in real time.
Kahn then went on to start LightSurf, a company that was hugely influential in picture messaging. LightSurf technology is still used by Sprint, Verizon, and other major carriers around the world.
According to Wikipedia, there are roughly one trillion photographs on film or photo paper in the world today — enough to cover an area of 4,000 square miles (~10,000 square kilometers). That’s about half the size of Wales, or pretty much exactly the size of Los Angeles County.
It’s no secret that Hollywood directors are using DSLRs more and more these days to film scenes that traditional bulky cameras can’t, but what’s interesting is that the cameras are often used from within the scenes filmed by the main cameras. A Canon 5D Mark II was mounted to the front of Tony Stark’s crashing racecar in Iron Man II, and was also attached to moving vehicles in the recent Captain America movie. The cameras are camouflaged to blend into the scene, but keep your eyes peeled (or watch the movie in slow motion) and you might just catch a glimpse of one!
You probably know that, like computers, digital cameras depreciate pretty rapidly — especially when a replacement model is announced every 2 or 3 years. A sad truth about digital cameras is that the digital sensor inside DSLRs cause them to be more expensive than comparable film SLRs when purchased new, yet less valuable further down the road when purchased used. Ken Rockwell calls this “digital rot“, and writes,
Digital Rot means that a camera’s digital guts rot-out its value in just a few years because you can’t remove the digital guts. Sadly, Digital Rot is a disease shared by all digital cameras.
Buy a film camera and you can shoot it for a lifetime. Buy an expensive digital camera, and you only get a few years out of it before its value rots away.
A “new in box” Nikon F5 film SLR just sold for $1,350 on eBay yesterday. How much do you think a “new in box” 2.7 megapixel Nikon D1 (a camera that cost $5,000 in 2000) would sell for today?
Did you know that Photoshop has built-in mechanisms that prevent you from editing photos of banknotes? After getting a payday, Reddit user tarballdotgz tried to Photoshop some of his hundred dollar bills, but ran into the above error in Photoshop. Even if you find a way to edit the images in Photoshop, there’s a good chance your printer will give you a similar error if you try to print the image out!
TIL that Photoshop doesn’t let you edit photos of currency [Reddit]
Update: Another interesting fact: apparently one mechanism used to do this is something called the “EURion constellation“, a specific pattern built into banknotes worldwide. (Thx David!)