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File this under “How Come I Didn’t Think of This First?”
I know they have little printers you can attach to your iPhone, but this is by the people who bought the very last Polaroid factory, and they’ve found a way to print “polaroid photos” directly from your iPhone. How cool is that? This video explains more:
The only down side is they’re not exactly peanuts to acquire. But they have that old-time Polaroid look and feel, and you can shell out megabucks for film again. Woo hoo!
Want to find out more? Check out their Kickstarter Page.
Sometimes I wish I had one of those fancy panoramic photos where you can capture the full breadth of something – usually the horizon – don’t you? Well, it turns out that with today’s high-resolution digital cameras, you can easily turn an ordinary photo into a panoramic. With a little planning beforehand.
See something that would make a great panoramic photo? Snap an ordinary photo, being sure to line the horizon up straight, and try to keep as much of the content along the same horizontal line. This is important later so you don’t have to crop important content out. You can straighten the photo later using a photo editing program if you mess this up:
Now carefully crop on both sides of the horizon, including the content you want to keep. You may need to do a bit of lightening / color / contrast correction, because things can get hazy far away. In this case, here was my result:
It’s not as spectacular when it’s restricted to the width of this webpage – but if you view it at full size and/or print and cut it on wide paper, the result can be stunning.
Here is a similar set, but I had to grab a bit wider piece to avoid cutting off any of the antelope in the foreground:
And finally, here’s what happens when you manage to align everything along the horizon:
Namibia really is an amazing place for photographers. On this occasion, everything lined up, but as a photographer I was unfortunately not fully up to the task. Still, some amazing photos.
The location: Okonjima / Africat, where two organizations collaborate on a 22,000 hectare plot of African bush to rehabilitate injured carnivores. Africat has taken in nearly 1,000 large cats and released over 900 of them – to give you an idea of the scale. Most of them go back where they came from, but some stay at Okonjima. If I remember correctly, about 25 leopards, 4 cheetahs, 3 or 4 each spotted hyenas and wild dogs, and soon there will be lions.
Anyway, when you go to Okonjima, you can, for a very reasonable price, get welcomed in luxurious style and stay in a fantastic “view” room (which you’ll rarely see because there is so much to do!), and go on excursions to track the animals with your very own guide. The cheetahs and a few of the leopards are collared (to monitor their rehabilitation), and the guides use radio tracking equipment to find them in the bush – and in the case of the cheetahs (the leopards are too shy), get pretty close to them on foot.
So this is what we were doing, and we happened upon the group of three cheetahs in the evening. They were lying - as if posing - on top of a large mound of earth. With the setting sun to our backs, this is indicative of some of the amazing photos we were able to shoot:
And then, something really special happened. As the sun was setting in the west, giving us this great yellow light, the full moon rose in the east – directly behind the cheetahs! To top things off, this was no ordinary moon - it was a “super moon” or perigee moon – about 14% nearer and 30% brighter than most full moons, due to the moon being nearer the earth than usual. We had about 10 minutes to use the fading light to try and capture both the cheetahs and the moon with the right amount of exposure. While we did that, our guide took the opportunity to serve our “sundowner” drink.
These are only a few of the photos – WordPress and Namibian internet speeds don’t get along and the uploads kept timing out – but there are more photos at Photoshop.com.
We have this pretty amazing reservoir just outside Windhoek created by Avis dam – it’s a wildlife protected area / bird sanctuary / dog walking area / jogging area. And fishing/boating pond. And you can get some awesome pictures out there if you pay attention. Examples:
An egret takes flight
I take a lot of pictures of the herons, but I thought this one turned out particularly well.
My wife came across this dead puff adder one day. I let her know that they still can still bite (reflex) for awhile after they are dead.
And there is also danger from above. I believe it’s an African hawk-eagle, but I’m not entirely sure.
This appears to be a dassie, or rock hyrax, which must have tumbled off the nearby cliff. Possibly in conjunction with an encounter with one of the eagles above. What I found odd was that it was being eaten by three rather large crabs. How did freshwater crabs make their way to a reservoir in a desert country? Below, a close up of one of the lil’ fellers
Since the unhappy theft of my camera and laptop, I’ve been relatively silent on the blog as there’s not a whole lot of photo/video action to write about. But I’m still enjoying the digital microscope I got recently from the Sharper Image – essentially a kids’ science toy, but I’m not ashamed to admit in some ways I’m still a kid at heart.
Today I had some fun with a spider. He’s only about a quarter inch long. No spiders were harmed in the making…
The side of his head – showing two of his lateral eyes, at bottom right, and top left.
Another shot of that eye on the side of its head
This is one of his feet. Those “hooks” must be how spiders hang on to a vertical surface.
Here, a top-down view of his head – now the location of the eyes photographed earlier can be more easily seen.
Who knows….some random spider body part!
Again top of the head, with its main eyes looking toward the left of the image.
…and finally, a full photo of our furry friend. Next time, a white background would be better. Oh, and don’t ask what kind of spider it is – that’s for YOU to figure out! Hint: Windhoek, Namibia.
So you’ve heard of macro photography – and I’ve been blogging about it recently as well. But what about micro photography? Ever wanted to take a picture of something you can only see under a microscope? Well, how about video?
It used to be really expensive, but there are a couple of options out there for under $100 that actually work. I picked up this digital microscope from the Sharper Image for $79.99 which is a great value for money. Although the description is not quite accurate, it does a lot of fun stuff – and in my opinion, not just for kids! Of course, some of us are still kids at heart…
The website says it magnifies at 30X to 300X – in actuality it appears to do optical magnification of 3.5x OR 35x – and then you can digitally magnify that image 1x to 4x with the press of a button – though the image gets pretty noisy when you do that. But I found that 35x is already quite impressive.
What I think is cool is that you can also do video. Although when you take something that’s moving, and magnify it 35 times, it’s pretty hard to keep onscreen. There are a number of setting options to change the resolution of your photos (1.3 MP max) or videos (30 fps), and you can even take 3-shot bursts. Given the depth of field issue, however, it quickly becomes clear why microscopes are generally used to view things on slides.
Take a look at these photos and consider what you might be able to do with one of these. I’ve been fooling around with it quite a bit the last few days. Of course that has a lot to do with the fact that someone stole my laptop and camcorder. *sigh*
This is the head of an ant, magnified 35 times. How did I get him to stand still? Well, he was already dead – I just had to get his buddy to stop dragging him for a minute.
You know those tiny red bugs you sometimes see crawling on bricks? No larger than, say the ball of a ball-point pen? This is one of those, magnified 35 times. I think it’s called a spider mite.
This is what happens when you stack the digital magnification on top of the optical. I think this is 3 times 35x.
Some green algae I found floating in a pond.
And just for good measure, I’ll include some video. TURN DOWN YOUR VOLUME! I’m not sure what the rationale would be for sound on a microscopic video, but there you have it.
The security industry is booming in Windhoek, Namibia. Also, in our neighborhood, it’s a rare home that does not have a dog on the premises (although there is also the occasional waddling overweight dachshund who is clearly not there for security). Some folks, however, take a different approach to security. Fortunately, WE have a mongoose living in our yard.
Scott Bourne made some interesting points on the blog Photofocus. He pointed out something many of us overlook in today’s world of social media marketing and sharing – that posting a photo via Twitter (which will apparently soon be possible) or Twitpic, or even on sites like Facebook means you have basically given up control of your content. He shares some points from Twitter’s Terms of Service (TOS):
“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”
“You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.”
He further goes on to point out that any photo previously shared online can no longer be sold as an “exclusive” and asks whether the exposure you gain from sharing on a service like Twitter is worth what you lose.
Basically he says everything that needs to be said, I’m just repeating it here because it can’t be overemphasized. READ your terms of service – no matter what online resource you use. Yes, it’s pesky and long, and dry, but before you check that little box that says you agree, READ. Every site is different – and my observation has been that generally, the more “free” a site is, the less likely you are to maintain exclusive rights to your content, whether photo, video, music, whatever. Both Facebook and Twitter – the biggest and both free – are explicit about the fact that they can do whatever they want with whatever you post. I caution my kids on what they post – “maybe one day a college application may depend on it” – and am told about privacy filters. That’s the case TODAY. In five years, the TOS make it clear that if they WANT to, they can do pretty much anything with your content.
So what’s the alternative? Not to post anything online so that no one can “steal” it? Actually there are a number of alternatives. The easiest way to ensure your content is not re-used in ways you don’t intend is to downgrade the resolution of what you post. A picture or video can look great on a computer screen but be pretty much worthless in print. Then you can let it be re-tweeted all day long. If you want to go the extra step, most likely if you’re actually in the position of earning money from your content, you may want to add some sort of watermark. I find the watermarks on iStockphoto and other sites to be a bit irritating, but they won’t be stolen. Maybe something more subtle would be enough. You can do similar things with audio content.
But the most important point is already made by Bourne. Read the TOS. There are photo sharing sites out there that allow you to maintain ownership of your content, and others that don’t. You may have to spend a little dough, but hey, you’re receiving a service, right?