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Love of fur – Weekend wallpaper

Don’t we all love fur—on the original rump, of course. And doesn’t love between cats give us all the feeling that we’d like to cuddle with them? That feeling was what I wanted to express with this picture of a pair of Sri Lanka panthers, made during a visit to the zoo.

And on a practical note: you’ve got to make the best of those darn animals that turn their backs on you…



Researchers Develop Method for Getting High-Quality Photos from Crappy Lenses

It’s a research result for the moment, far from being ready for the market, but once such a plug-in became available for LightRoom and similar apps, I’d certainly go for it! It promises to sharpen images based on knowing the sharpness errors of lenses (‘point-spread functions’ of PSFs). You find a more extended piece, with further links, under:

Researchers Develop Method for Getting High-Quality Photos from Crappy Lenses.

Does that mean we don’t have to buy expensive lenses anymore? Not quite, I think. For one thing, It still takes a lot of glass to make lenses with large apertures, which are needed for the selective focus and nice bokeh that so often distinguish good pictures.

Weekend Wallpapers: Butterflies in the Garden

Sunny Sunday in August means that there are quite a few butterflies in the garden. Nationwide counts established last week that the numbers of butterflies are good this year. Good for this decade, that is. Compared with the 1990s, they still are dramatically low. So what does one do in one’s garden to make it more butterfly-friendly?
For one thing, we don’t eat all the prunes and leave some for insects. Not purely out of ecological reasons, I admit: there is simply too much to keep up with the prunes! Among butterflies, Red admirals and Commas (Polygonia c-album) are very fond of overripe fruit. The Comma I could only get in the picture when it was resting for a bit on a prune leave; the prunes it was eating from were hanging in the tree, too much in the shadow to allow for a photo.
A Small white (Pieris rapae) was laying eggs in the grass of the lawn. The back of her body almost disappears in the bokeh; I had to give priority to high shutter speed to avoid blur because of my lack of stability. Not a smart place to lay eggs, because the lawn will be mown and 15 meters further she could find enough cabbage plants, the plants to which the butterfly owes its Dutch name: Klein koolwitje.
In both cases, it was also an exercise in the free-hand use of a telezoom lens plus a 1.4x extender to achieve almost 280mm (420mm equivalent with the sensor’s crop factor)—that is what made stability such an issue…
Anyway: free to downlaod for wallpaper use!

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

Small white (Pieris rapae)

Small white (Pieris rapae)

Quick read: 5 areas where cameras still beat smartphones in photography | Digital Trends

Is it not amazing that we have to “defend” using a real camera against smartphone pictures? Smartphones are getting ever more competitive against the simple, compact ‘point-and-click’ cameras, though! How many decades until the DSLR is threatened?
Be careful, though, when making a bet on this one: were we not surprised at how fast the digital SLR made the analog SLR obsolete? I was, to be honest.

5 areas where cameras still beat smartphones in photography | Digital Trends.

Artist Li Wei flies high in his photos

Flying with KLM last week, I found a funny picture in the inflight magazine. Chinese artist Li Wei makes impossible pictures (no PhotoShop but real-world tricks!) ‘to tell people that nothing is impossible’. He’s got a website full of them: Liweiart-works_photo.

Screendump Li Wei

Copy of Li Wei ‘Arrow of Love’ (2009)

Doing archery as a hobby, I was of course intrigued by his ‘Arrow of love’–and could not help but observe that the bow is held wrong-way around… Never mind, the idea remains fun, and the question ‘how did he do it?’ remains intriguing, too!

Pixels wanted? A billion!

Did I say, in my previous post, that I wanted maximum sharpness? Well, NASA has the ultimate: a one-billion pixel composition of hundreds of photos taken by Mars rover Curiosity. You can find it here. May take some time to load… 😉

Laptops with super high-def displays worth price | PCWorld

I try to limit the hardware craze: a good camera does not have to be traded in for a new one just because the Joneses have one; nor do old lenses. Still, I have upgraded from 6 to 12 to 24 megapixel sensor cameras, and my lenses were upgraded as well to match the increased quality. Similarly, my laptop does not have to be traded in for a new one just because there are new models available. Even with 24 M pixel pictures, my laptop still worked well. A bit slow, but hey, I’m not a pro who has to process hundreds of pictures a day, so let’s be a little environment-conscious. My laptop is 4 years old now and could do well for at least another year.

And yet…

An article on PCWorld, Laptops with super high-def displays worth price | PCWorld convinced me that the ‘retina screen’ is not a hype, but a true innovation, because you don’t see individual pixels anymore: ‘Suddenly, there’s harmony. Your eyes actually see what your brain wants to see.’
‘Suddenly, it’s possible to look at a screen and for the first time ever, see no pixels, no “jaggies” (the jagged edges of pixelated raster images) and no gray boundaries around letters. We’ve crossed some kind of line.’

Now I want a new Apple MacBook!

Let’s wait a month, and see if the urge is still as strong. That’s a famous trick to avoid impulsive buying… but this seems a serious candidate!

Wednesday Wallpaper: Winter and Spring, Mixed-Up World

Nature is amazing, and it takes little addition from a photographer to record it. The amazement is about the very late spate of winter when spring ought to be getting on. This Hazel shrub shows how it’s a mixed-up world now: catkins covered in snow! All the photographer does, is wait for a sprinkle of sun in between the clouds to add a little to the photo. Luckily I did not have to wait long in the cold 😉

And who sang ‘mixed-up world’ again? Wikipedia gives the answer: Sophie Ellis-Baxtor, 11 years ago!

Hazel in a mixed-up world

Hazel in a mixed-up world

Winners World Press Photo 2013 :: nrc.nl

The winners of the best press photos of last year were announced today. Overall winner was Paul Hansen with a picture of a funeral in Gaza: two kids, killed in a rocket attack, are carried by men whose faces express terrible grief–and anger. Together with the almost haunting light, the atmosphere of the picture is very intense.

The light effect sets this picture apart for me. Of course, being a press photo, there is no elaborate studio lighting to create such an effect. If I see it right, the photographer made smart use of light falling through a (broken, or newly-built?) window on the left, while the grey concrete wall on the right helped light up the dark side, acting as a reflection screen. To see that light, while walking backwards, almost with your nose and your wide-angle lens in the faces of crying, angry men and–even worse–dead children!

Of course, the rest of the winners in the different categories are also worth looking at. You can see them here (captions in Dutch–sorry, folks!):
Winnaars World Press Photo 2013 :: nrc.nl.

But this overall winner will stay in my mind for a long time, I fear.

Weekend wallpapers: Lighter side of winter

In the part of the world where I live, winter is mostly dreary: cloudy days, with temperatures just above freezing, rain, chilly wind. A few weeks of snow cover (a few centimetres deep) are promised to us by the climate statistics, but in subjective experience it’s much rarer than that. And especially rare are days like this weekend, when a few flakes of snow fall on a windless day. A good occasion to rediscover the beauty of one’s own backyard dressed in a very picturesque cover.