Here are some uncropped (or “unzoomed”) versions of iconic photographs that show more context than their famous cropped counterparts. It’s interesting to see what photographers and photo editors chose to keep and what they chose to throw away. The image above is an alternate view of Tank Man. Read more…
Here’s a random but interesting piece of photo-related trivia: did you know that Kodak used a calendar that had 13 months? It was called the “International Fixed Calendar“, and was proposed by a guy named Moses B. Cotsworth in 1902. The system divided each year into 13 months of 28 days each, with one or two days each year not belonging to any month. The extra month was named “Sol”, and appeared between June and July. Although it was never officially adopted by any country, Kodak founder George Eastman became a huge supporter of the new calendar, and instituted it as the official calendar of Kodak in 1928. It would remain the company’s calendar of choice until 1989. Because of this, an alternate name for the calendar is “the Eastman plan”.
Ever wonder what the f-number of your eyes are? It can easily be calculated using the human eye’s focal length (~22mm) and physical aperture size. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Computing the f-number of the human eye involves computing the physical aperture and focal length of the eye. The pupil can be as large as 6–7 mm wide open, which translates into the maximum physical aperture.
The f-number of the human eye varies from about f/8.3 in a very brightly lit place to about f/2.1 in the dark. The presented maximum f-number has been questioned, as it seems to only match the focal length that assumes outgoing light rays. According to the incoming rays of light (what we actually see), the focal length of the eye is a bit longer, resulting in minimum f-number of f/3.2.
The article also notes that the eye cannot be considered an ordinary air-filled camera since it’s filled with light refracting liquid.
The Image Language is a simple web app that lets you “write with images”. Feed it a chunk of text, and it turns each words into the top image result on Google Images. The image above shows what this paragraph looks like when fed through the system.
One tip that instructors often pass onto the beginning photographers is to use their dominant eye (i.e. the eye they prefer seeing with) to look through the viewfinder. If you want to find out which of your eyes is the dominant one, here’s a quick test you can do: extend your arms straight out and form a small triangle with your hands. Looking through the triangle with both eyes open, frame something nearby (e.g. a doorknob) and place it in the center of the triangle. Then close your eyes one at a time without moving the triangle — your dominant eye is the one that placed the object in the center.
Interestingly enough, many people (myself included) choose to use their right eye for their viewfinder even though the left one is dominant — likely because it’s the way they started shooting from the beginning.
Here’s your interesting piece of photo trivia ‘o the day: John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, was the first president to have his photograph taken (the earliest photo still in existence, at least). The daguerreotype was shot in 1843, a good number of years after Adams left office in 1829. Read more…
What do you get if you apply every Instagram filter to a single photograph? Belgian blog Appelogen decided to find out, starting with a normal photo of a pathway and applying one filter at a time. The resulting image is pretty abstract, and prompted them to ask the question, “is it art?”
Ken Burns is a documentary legend, and even though he comes from a filmmaking perspective, his ideas on what makes a story worth telling (or, in our case, a moment worth capturing) are universal and universally inspiring. In this short interview he did with Redglass Pictures he talks about finding subjects where one plus one equals three — where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He also talks about sincere emotional manipulation, and how he believes it is at the heart of his greatest documentaries. “Emotional truth,” maintains Burns, must be pieced together and created.
And it’s these abilities: the ability to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts, and the ability to “manipulate” the story to piece together an emotional truth that may not be obvious to the casual onlooker; its these abilities that should be at the center of every artist’s tool chest, be they photographer or documentary filmmaker.
If you think 14fps on a high end DSLR is fast, check out this video by Mike’s Electric Stuff. In it, he does an extreme teardown of a cheap Panasonic Lumix compact camera and spends 30 minutes exploring and explaining the various components. At about 18 minutes in, he hooks up a signal generator to the shutter mechanism to see how fast the shutter can flap. He’s able to take it up to around 70 flaps per second before the shutter begins to stutter. The limiting factor in FPS isn’t the mechanical components of a camera, but how fast the sensor and memory card can capture and store data.