We've covered a lot of water since our last field dispatch from artificial reefs. We left fisheries biologists using ROVs to estimate fish biomass on artificial reefs off the Pensacola coast and drove west across a still battered Gulf Coast. Hurricane damage was still evident in every direction. We rolled into Lake Charles, Louisiana, late in the evening, bleary-eyed and shaking from an overdose of Starbucks and Redbull. We met our fixers Darrell and Cher Walker (True Blue Watersports), repacked the gear for a few days in the Gulf, and loaded our Sport Fisherman in the dark. Captain Keith Monroe and first mate Eric Larson pulled us off the docks at 2 a.m., and we headed into the Gulf of Mexico. Daybreak gave us a view of a forest of platforms stretching to the horizon–some manned, some not. The water closer to the coast was mud brown, useless for photography, so we pressed deep into the Gulf looking for clear water.
Dr. David Obura measures a new table coral growing amidst fields of dead coral at Kanton Island in the Phoenix Islands. Photograph by Brian Skerry.
I have been diving for eight days in the Phoenix Islands and have seen a range of situations underwater. Much of what I’ve seen has been severe stress on these remote ecosystems. Many of the coral reef habitats I have dived on have undergone bleaching events in recent years and are now just beginning to show signs of new life. It is actually a testimony to the overall good health of these reefs prior to the bleaching that they are able to rebound at all. So in terms of the future, these places should continue to rebuild and return to their once lush state.
September 13, 2009–After nearly six days of sailing we reached Nikumaroro Island around 10 a.m. today. The tiny spec of land turned into a deserted tropical island clustered with palm trees the closer we approached. I had planned to use the days in transit to unpack and assemble all of my photo equipment, but the rough seas didn’t allow for this. So, I spent the first several hours today doing this along with charging batteries and prepping my dive gear. I was able to get everything ready in time for a dive in the early afternoon.
I dove on the leeward side of Nikumaroro and from the moment I jumped in, two things were evident. First there seemed to be a lot of fish. Second, the corals here were in rough shape. As I mentioned in my previous post, coral scientist David Obura was here in 2005 and recorded substantial coral bleaching and dead corals due to warming sea temperatures. Our hope was that in the four years since, new coral growth had taken place, however we saw very little of this.
I ended up spending about three hours in the water today, making two dives and concentrated mostly on photographing fish. There were some huge schools of surgeonfish in the surf zone, where I often love to work. The crashing waves create backlighting that can make for a beautiful picture, provided you can hold your position and not get slammed into a rock or coral head!
Nikumaroro Islands is the place that many believe Amelia Earhart landed on her historic attempt of a round the world flight. So, while fish were foremost in my thoughts today, I must admit that somewhere in the back of my mind I secretly desired to swim over an underwater ridge to find the wreckage of a Lockheed Electra lying amongst the coral. Didn’t happen though. I did swim amongst the wreckage of a ship that grounded here, but no aircraft debris today.
Tomorrow I am planning an early morning dive on the windward side of the island where I hope the reef will have fared better from the stressing event of four years ago. —Brian Skerry
The currents in Key Largo felt like underwater trade winds that just did not want to quit. The wrecks are deep and need light brought down to them to illuminate large areas on these iron reefs. If I were shooting a very small area I could use dual strobes mounted on the housing but our goal was to create an atmosphere of an underwater studio with generator powered HMI lights on150 foot long cables, a Nuytco prototype submarine LED, handheld HIDs and strobes on photoeyes. 150 pounds of cable and lights were ferried 115 feet down the line to the wreck in a pumping knot and a half current … in the dark.
Underwater photographer David Doubilet in his studio, prepping and packing for an assignment
Hi everyone. This is an invite to join me on an assignment that will take our team on an unusual underwater road trip along the continental shelf of the eastern and southern United States. The assignment actually started with a short few days underwater in late May in Florida, but now we kick off the major stretch of work that will find us in southern coastal waters moving around in planes, trains, and automobiles ... and of course dive boats.
The latest news on Doctor Danger (July 6):
Intestines? Who needs ‘em? Despite losing about 2/3 of his in surgery after a car stunt gone bad, Doc Danger is on the mend and ready to work.
“People get hurt on the job every day. This was my day.”
It was during his latest suicide car jump: The car he was driving, a little too fast, crashed into the stack of cars as planned, but then flew past its mark and fell 80 feet to the ground. Unfortunately, on the landing his body slid beneath his seatbelt in a way that severely damaged his insides. As the strap dug into him, “I felt more pain than I ever had in my life,” he recalls. Fortunately, a surgical team was able to put him back together, but first they had to remove a large section of his intestines. “I’m still learning how my new body works—some things just don’t go through me the way they used to,” he says. “But I’ve had my whisky drink, and so far so good.”
Doc says he’s overwhelmed by the response to his accident from family, friends, fans, and strangers. “You go through life thinking people don’t give a damn, but they do, in a big way. It’s an amazing thing.”
Though he’ll hand over the keys to the suicide jump car, at least for now, “I’ll go right back to doing my fire stunts,” he says. “I’m disappointed—I like crashing the car. You’re never quite as alive as when you’re near death.” But it’s time to heal, and maybe time to put other priorities on top, he says.
Meanwhile, if you’re lucky, he might just show you his scar.
—Jennifer S. Holland
Congratulations! The Your Shot special issue hit newsstands today (June 30). We may have done the editing, writing and design, but you took the pictures—101 of our favorite photographs submitted by readers since Your Shot debuted in March 2006.
How did we pick the pics we picked? There's no magic formula. Personally, I'm drawn to images that make me feel something, be it joy, sorrow, suprise or wonder. So that's how I structured the issue: four chapters, four emotions. The selection process took months, but for photo editor Susan Welchman and I, it was worth every moment. These two videos explain why:
1. Susan and I describe why we love editing Your Shot.
Russian Orthodox Church, April 2009
Moscow at Night, August 2008
Siberian Oil, June 2008
In the April issue of National Geographic appears a story by photographer Gerd Ludwig on the re-emergence of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is the third of a trilogy of stories that have run recently by Gerd covering various contemporary issues in Russia. I had a chance to catch up with Gerd in his home in Los Angeles to discuss his work.
The international jury of the 52nd annual World
Press Photo Contest have selected a black-and-white image by American
photographer Anthony Suau as World Press Photo of the Year 2008. The
picture shows an armed officer of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department
moving through a home in Cleveland, Ohio, following eviction as a result of
mortgage foreclosure. Officers have to ensure that the house is clear of
weapons, and that the residents have moved out. The
winning photograph, taken in March 2008, is part of a story commissioned by Time
magazine. The story as a whole won Second Prize in the Daily Life category of
Jury chair MaryAnne Golon said: “The strength of the picture is in its opposites. It’s a double entendre. It looks like a classic conflict photograph, but it is simply the eviction of people from a house following foreclosure. Now war in its classic sense is coming into people’s houses because they can’t pay their mortgages.
Follow this link to view the rest of this years World Press photo contest winners.
I case you missed last weeks announcement of Nikon’s new flagship DSLR, the full frame D3X, here a few of the important stats.
For a full rundown on the camera, take a look at Rob Galbraith’s review.
I’m a real creature of habit, especially when I find some little piece of gear that makes my life as a photographer easier. To that point I recently learned some sad news, one of my favorite products has been slated for EOL.
Well I didn’t know what EOL was either, I had to ask—it stands for end of life. SanDisk is ending production of its SD and SDHC Plus line of memory cards. In an earlier blog I pimped the benefits of not having to carry around a card reader and cables, because the SD Plus memory card folds in half and plugs directly into a USB slot.
Seems putting a SDHC and USB controller on one of these convenient little cards makes them slightly more expensive, and so I deduce not as palatable to the thrifty shopper. For me the couple extra dollars is worth the convenience of have not having to drag around a card reader on vacation.
If you like these memory cards, get your fill while supplies last, because after the end of the year they may be as rare as hen’s teeth.
Addressing the concerns of many professional photographers who want to love the M8, Leica has introduced a second iteration of their digital rangefinder—the M8.2. The most notable of the many enhancements is the dramatic reduction in shutter and winder noise. Not only is the camera operationally quieter, the reworked shutter gives the camera a much smoother feel—harking back to the M4 experience.
The M8.2 also targets the new less experienced Leica user with the addition of a snapshot mode, where the camera controls all the key settings needed to create the perfect exposure.
The Leica M rangefinder has always been a pleasure to use and a brilliant tool for discreet reportage. Version two of the M8 certainly sets this camera back on the path forged in 1925, a path that changed modern photography.
The professional community has been eagerly awaiting news of the EOS 5D replacement, and today the long anticipated full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II was unveiled. The 5D was first released in 2005 with a palatable price point; its low weight and full frame sensor have made it a favorite tool for many National Geographic photographers.
The 5D MK II comes with an even larger CMOS sensor, 21.1 megapixels, 3.9 continuous frames per second, and an expanded ISO range compliments of the new DIGIC 4 processor. Live-view video can be captured at 1920x1080 pixels (30 frames per second) with stereo sound and individual clips lasting 4GB—about 12 minutes. As an added benefit, still frames can also be captured while HD video recording is in progress!
Canon has even lowered the price of the 5D MKII to $2,699, with arrival scheduled at the end of November. More 5D MKII images and details after the jump.
The hardware continues to roll out in advance of Photokina. SanDisk today announced a whopping 32-gigabyte compact flash card with data transfer speeds of 30 megabytes per second. According to Sandisk the 32GB Extreme III CF card can store more than 80 minutes of HD video. All National Geographic photographs are captured RAW, so a high capacity card is extremely valuable when using high pixel count cameras like the Canon 1Ds MKIII or the new Sony A900. Underwater photographers will also rejoice, as the new 32GB Extreme III will increase bottom shooting time. Imagine matching this card with the Nikon D3 and its dual CF card slots—64GB if in-camera storage!
Digital SLR cameras have come a long way in a few short years; all are feature rich, and with each new model milestones topple. Sony has broken another barrier for the serious photo enthusiast in bringing to market their flagship A900—a full-frame 24.6 megapixel CMOS sensor capable of five continuous frames per second—all for about $3000.
The viewfinder has been designed with a 100 percent field of view, and the A900 also comes equipped with the world’s first anti-shake system for a full-frame sensor.
“The camera’s newly developed, body-integrated SteadyShot Inside unit achieves an anti-shake effect equivalent to shutter speeds faster by 2.5 to 4 stops.”
Among the features, intelligent preview seems to be an option that will save both time and frustration creating properly exposed photographs—by giving you the ability to fine tune an exposure before the next image is committed to one of the camera’s two memory cards.
“After pressing the depth of field preview button, the camera 'grabs' a RAW preview image, which is processed and displayed on the LCD screen. You can then fine-tune white balance, determine the best level and effect of dynamic range optimization, adjust exposure compensation, and check histogram data, all before you actually take the picture.”
The A900 will be available in November with online pre-orders beginning September 10th. More detailed camera images after the jump.
Video capture in a digital SLR camera, it’s about time! YAHOO!!!! Congratulations, Nikon, for being the first manufacturer in the world to add 24 fps 1,280x720 pixel video to a D-SLR. Sure there are some limitations in the D90 compared to even a low-end video camera but just think of the possibilities—like shooting wildlife sequences with a 600mm f 4.0. Those of us who just dabble in video will now be able to repurpose still gear that has taken thousands of dollars and years to acquire for a new hobby.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to camera manufacturers about the need to incorporate video capture into the professional digital SLR. It was during the first phases of the war with Iraq that I realized how important it was to get video capability into the hands of professional still photographers—but not at the cost of burdening the photographer with two completely different camera systems. Video equipment is especially fragile—our video camera lasted three days before succumbing to the brutal Iraqi dust. Sorry, I was having a little flashback to my days at the Dallas Morning News.
My point is that given the number of embedded still photographers and the lack of video photographers, the war with Iraq was the perfect opportunity for still photographers to broaden our understanding of what was happening on the ground—if only they had the proper tools. Given the insatiable appetite for video on the Web, I’m sure the D90 is just a first step in getting the right tools into the hands of professionals.
That said, the D90 is not a professional camera. It’s a CMOS 12.3 megapixel, 4.5 fps, mid-range D-SLR that will sell for under $1,000.
Full tech specs unabashedly copied from the Nikon Web site after the jump; more photos too.
SanDisk has pegged the data transfer meter for SDHC with the announcement today of the Extreme III 30MB/s SD card. The 30MB/s edition (megabytes per second) will come to market in September and will be available in 4GB, 8GB and a whopping 16GB. The 16GB version will have a selling price of $179.99.
The speed of the camera's recording media correlates directly to the number of frames that can be written during a continuous burst—before a memory buffer overrun occurs. Here’s an example from Canon’s 50D literature.
It can shoot up to 6.3 fps, in bursts of up to 90 JPEGs (using an UDMA CF card), 60 JPEGs (using a CF card) consecutively or 16 RAW files, so you'll never, ever miss a shot.
Though the 50D uses only CF (compact flash) cards, Nikon’s newly announced D90 will be able to use the Extreme III 30MB/s cards. According to the press release, Nikon and SanDisk have been working closely to ensure that the D90 will take full advantage of the 30MB/s data transfer rate.
Though the Canon EOS 1D MKIII and EOS1Ds MKIII both have SD recording slots, the DIGIC III processor in these cameras will pump out only 15MB/s. Perhaps the next two Canon pre-Photokina camera announcements will be equipped with DIGIC 4 image processors, able to take advantage of the SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/s edition.
Getting a jump on Photokina next month, Canon has added a mid-level digital SLR to its roster. The 50D joins the team with 15.1 megapixels of resolution, a continuous firing rate of 6.3 frames per second, improved noise reduction and an expanded ISO range topping out at 12800.
The EOS 50D will be equipped with a redesigned CMOS APS-C sensor, sporting gapless micro lenses over each pixel, which helps reduce digital noise and expands ISO sensitivity. Nikon has gained ground, if not surpassed Canon in recent months with the success of its expanded ISO range in the D3 and D700.
Estimated price for the 50D body is $1,399.00, with an arrival date set for October—well ahead of the Christmas buying season. For more of a technical overview check out Rob Galbraith’s website.
The Canon press release follows after the jump.
So you just bought a new digital camera and now you’re wondering what kind of SD or CF card to use in that slick little device. Should you stick with one of the major brand names, SanDisk, Lexar, or perhaps take a chance on a cheaper card without the name recognition?
My criterion for choosing a memory card is speed: how fast the image data can be written from the camera to the card. You’d think that we could just read and trust the data transfer speeds listed by the manufacturers—you can to a point.
But that point stops when you realize that a single top-rated card will vary in performance depending on the camera brand or model in which it’s paired. Fortunately, if you are looking for the fastest card and camera combinations, you need only look as far as Rob Galbraith’s recently updated CF/SD Card Database. He has posted speed tests on a number of major digital SLR camera and card combinations.
If you are looking to free yourself from one less digital doodad, try leaving your SD card reader at home on your next outing. I know 2-in-1 SD cards have been out for a while but I’ve recently discovered just how well they work. The convenience of being able to remove the SD card from the camera, fold the card back to reveal the USB tab, and directly insert it into the computer is brilliant, simple, and fast.
Last year about this time David Griffin, National Geographic’s director of photography, and Elizabeth Krist, a senior photo editor, walked into my office and asked if I had any ideas on how we could photograph Stonehenge in a way that would be new and different. It was a natural question. David was already thinking about high-dynamic-range photography, and I’m the digital-tech guy at the magazine. I had an idea, but it came with a catch—I wanted to be the photographer, anything to get out of the office and into the field.
Reading the New York Times while riding the metro into work this morning, I had a flashback to my college days. Rochester, New York, in the late 1970s was dominated by a global powerhouse in photography — Kodak. I still remember driving around the outside of the Eastman Kodak plant looking on in jaw dropping amazement at the miles and miles of pipe that snaked with contorted twists and turns through the vast manufacturing facility, wondering what kind of chemical concoctions were being brewed into the next great film emulsion.
According to the NYT, the “Great Yellow Father” employed 145,300 people 20 years ago; in 2007 its ranks had dwindled to 26,900. Not surprising when you consider the tact taken when one of Kodak’s own electrical engineers, Stephen J. Sasson, invented the first digital camera in the 1970s.
From the NYT:
“My prototype was big as a toaster, but the technical people loved it,” Mr. Sasson said. “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute — but don’t tell anyone about it.’ ”
While I was learning the basics of chemical-based imaging at Rochester Institute of Technology, Kodak was quietly developing pixel-based photography. It’s ironic that 25 years after college it seems I owe Mr. Sasson a personal debt of thanks; his invention is the reason I now work for National Geographic magazine.
Thank you, Mr. Sasson!
Canon has posted a firmware update (Version 1.1.2) which, "Improves the stability of AF accuracy in AI servo AF when shooting extremely low-contrast subjects."
FROM CANON EUROPE:
Wednesday April 30, Canon releases world-wide a firmware update to improve the autofocus performance of EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III in some shooting conditions and to add new features in personal functions.
Those improvements have been implemented thanks to the feedback provided by professional photographers.
For more info and to download the firmware, click on the links here after:
You will need your camera serial number to initiate the download of the firmware. For detailed instructions on how to install the firmware update click here.
Rob Galbraith is reporting that Canon may finally be getting down to the root cause of their focusing challenges with the 1D MKIII. The buzz out of PMA is that engineers in Japan have isolated a problem that goes beyond the sub-mirror repair and 1.1.3 firmware update which didn’t fully create a cure — it seems the main autofocus circuitry is putting out so much information that lenses may be over correcting.
"In closed door meetings at the PMA 2008 trade show in Las Vegas, at Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix, Arizona and on the phone, by our count it's a minimum of four different professional market reps that have revealed to photographers or managers at seven different sites using the EOS-1D Mark III that a new fix is in the works. In other words, Canon USA reps have been directed by their superiors to begin contacting VIP customers, and to tell those customers that there's good news pending on the EOS-1D Mark III autofocus front."
Canon will now have to decide the best course of action to implement this new fix. Hopefully it will be the final solution to an aggravating problem that has tarnished the sales and reputation of what has been one of the best camera lines on the market for photojournalists.
Rob’s web site has been out front on this issue from the start, if you own a 1D MKIII I’d suggest reading his latest update.
Maybe it’s just imbedded in my DNA but I can’t help being a gadget geek, fortunately that passion melds well with my job description here at National Geographic. It also affords me opportunities to visit some of the largest photography trade shows, like the 84th annual Photo Marketing Association (PMA) convention being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
There are literally thousands of cameras and photo doodads set out for hands-on display and scads of eager manufacture’s representatives on call to explain and demonstrate the newest widgets for 2008. It’s like visiting the world’s largest candy store except you get to satisfy your sweet tooth with photo gear!
Last month I reported on a difference in speed when copying large numbers of files from a server to a PC or a Mac. I performed the tests again but this time the source of the files was a hard drive connected via firewire cable. This time the difference between Mac and PC was negligible. The new, striking graph is available after the jump.
About this time of year, the world over, photojournalists are simultaneously struck with a nearly paralyzing affliction. A malady so severe it causes the heart rate to rise, sweating, trembling, weakness, and at times manifests in its victims a near debilitating stupor.
The ailment: Contest Fever. So called because the most heralded of photo contests, for works created in 2007, all have January deadlines. Like the major presidential primaries, the caucuses first to vote, can set the tone for the preceding competitions.
One of the first to be judged every year is the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA), Eyes of History contest. For two days, three judges view thousands of images and vote by a process of elimination for what they subjectively consider to be the best images produced by the White House press corps in 2007.
The 2008 overall winner, WHNPA photographer of the year, was Washington Post photographer Jahi Chikwenhiu. If you are interested at all in what it takes to be photojournalist in our nations capital, then browse through winning entries on the Eyes of History 2008 website.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has just issued a revised press release regarding lithium batteries carried by passengers aboard commercial aircraft, “…that offers clearer language and more technical detail.”
“Common consumer electronics such as digital cameras, cell phones, and most notebook computers are still allowed in carry-on and checked luggage. Moreover, any number of spare batteries for these devices will be allowed in carry-on baggage…”
The full press release is posted after the jump.
That’s the pessimistic headline of Peter Plagens's recent Newsweek article on the fate of photography. He contends that the digitalization of photography is leading to its demise as an art form.
"Film photography's artistic cachet was always that no matter how much darkroom fiddling someone added to a photograph, the picture was, at its core, a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera. A digital photograph, on the other hand, can be a Photoshop fairy tale, containing only a tiny trace of a small fragment of reality."
Digital photography has leveled the playing field such that a commoner with computer can create art, so if the masses can create faux photographs, then photography must no longer be considered art. Or is photography merely in an awkward adolescence, thrown off balance by a few pixel-grabbing headlines of photo manipulators who tarnish the credibility of reality in front of the lens?
Perhaps photographers should adapt the brilliant precedent writers set by segregating themselves from the digital masses—cleave off the untrained commoners sitting at home pecking words on a laptop, their grammar and spelling checked only by digital word processing software, daring to publish commentary to the world—by labeling them not writers but bloggers. So that no one is goaded to ask: Is writing dead?
Effective January 1, 2008, spare lithium batteries - extra batteries not installed on devices - will no longer be allowed in checked baggage. Spare lithium batteries may be packed in carry-on baggage and lithium batteries installed in a device may be packed in either checked or carry-on, as long as the battery is installed in the device, according to the Transportation Security Adminstration (TSA).
Read the full U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) press release after the jump.
With the proliferation of online photo sharing and print fulfillment sites, creating a custom family Christmas card has never been easier. All you need is an idea and a couple of willing subjects.
Canon Europe has a post updating the auto focus tracking issue on the Canon EOS-1D Mark III digital SLR that explains how they plan to fix the problem. Canon Europe offers an apology and a range of serial numbers for cameras affected by the AF tracking challenge.
If you were an early adopter of Canon’s EOS-1D Mark III and have been experiencing any type of autofocus problem, you may want to take a look at Rob Galbraith’s web site. He has been leading a testing and reporting crusade on what seems to be an autofocus deficiency in bright light situations. As of October 17th Canon will be offering a hardware fix to solve an AI Servo autofocus problem.
Just in time for the overindulgences of the fall holiday season and to help you forget how many helpings of stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy you actually consumed, comes one of Hewlett-Packard’s newest digital cameras. The 8 megapixel, $299.99 HP Photosmart R937 is equipped with built-in software that will help you shed your unwanted love handles.
One of the best attributes of digital photography is the instant gratification of seeing your photograph appear on the preview screen, this handy feature makes today’s cameras great for experimentation. One technique I use to put a little spice into situations with poor light quality or jazz up party snapshots is to add a little controlled motion to my images.
Our early ability to create tools is largely due to our dexterity, most of which we owe to our opposable thumbs. That same ability to grip can also be found in a handy little gadget that I carry with me five days a week.
In the last couple of days, we have received a flurry of competitive camera announcements. Two of the offerings include the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (top left), 21 million pixel behemoth (that is sure to tax any hard drive), and the Nikon D3 (top right), which is capable of capturing images at ISO 25,600. Both have full frame CMOS sensors. Below is a breakdown of key features for these cameras, and a few details on the (more affordable) Nikon D300 model:
While skateboarding with my son this weekend I watched several people struggle with their digital cameras trying to capture the near ballistic acrobatic moves of the boarders as they careened around the skate park. Unfortunately the fodder for that post will have to wait; as I was rudely reminded a short while later of a very important tool that I believe everyone who shoots digital images should have on their hard drive.
After my skateboarding misadventure and about three hours in the emergency room, I retuned home with my arm in a sling and a PC formatted CD holding my X-rays. I popped the CD in to my Mac laptop and fumbled through the numerous folders until I found what I hoped were the radiographs of my left arm. The first file I found was labeled 1426 with no file extension, which I tried to open in Photoshop without success.
Digital file formats come in a hodgepodge on acronyms: CRW, NEF, CVG, ECW, EPSF, IMQ, JFIF, MAG, MRC, PICT, SCX, TIFF, WPG, XFIG, YUV, just to name a few. My X-rays, as I later discovered were DlCOM, a medical imaging format produced by a Philips DigitalDiagnost digital radiography system.
Faced with a file format I did not recognize and could not open in Photoshop, I turned to the Swiss army knife of digital file formats for the Mac, Graphic Converter. Thorsten Lemke developed this shareware program in 1992, which now boasts it will open nearly 200 different graphic formats. Not only did Graphic Converter open the DlCOM file, it also allowed me to read the patient medical data embedded in the file header. Using Graphic Converter I exported the DlCOM file (right) to JPEG so I could include it with this post. I have also used Graphic Converter to open and recover corrupted JPEG images.
If you are a PC user you may want to take a look at Graphics Converter Pro by Newera, it has a five star rating on Versiontracker. Apple recently started pre-loading Graphic Converter, check your utilities folder; you may already have a copy.
Everyone who uses a digital point-and-shoot camera knows the feeling. You’re looking at the LCD display, all ready for that decisive moment - toddler about to take his ﬁrst step, daughter about to blow out her birthday candles. You press the shutter-release button and . . . you get the moment after. This occurs because the camera has a lot to do to capture an image: It has to switch from LCD display to image capture, focus, determine white balance, and set exposure, which can take a quarter second, depending on the camera and settings. Newer models have reduced shutter lag, but until it’s eliminated completely there are a couple of things you can do.
In both shots my son, Cory, was in midair when the shutter-release was pressed. By the time the camera focused, processed, and shot, he was in the water (top right). You can reduce shutter lag greatly by prefocusing and locking exposure on your subject. Depress the shutter-release button halfway just before the action and hold it. Push the rest of the way when the action occurs, to nail the moment (bottom right).
To reduce the time between shots when shooting in continuous mode, overcoming small buffers, try choosing a smaller file size (from large JPEG to medium JPEG, for example). Smaller files take less time to process and write to your card.
Almost all compact digital cameras come with zoom lenses. But there’s a big difference between optical zoom and digital zoom. When you use optical zoom, you take full advantage of your camera’s millions of pixels. When you use digital zoom, you’re reducing the capability of your camera’s sensor to a fraction of its maximum potential. One picture (bottom image) was shot with a 7.1-megapixel camera using 3x optical zoom. The other (top) was shot with the same camera using 12x digital zoom, effectively reducing the 7.1 megapixels of image data to less than 0.5 megapixels. The picture’s detail and color quality is greatly reduced, making it look softer. The lesson: Use digital zoom only as a last resort.
James Bond would not be much of a secret agent without his supply of extremely lethal gadgets supplied by his man in the lab, the inventive Q.
National Geographic Photo Engineering is an entire department of Q’s, who invent, blueprint and build some of the most amazing gadgets that make impossible photographs possible. From their arsenal of lathes, milling and welding machines they have created custom submersibles diving 1,000 feet below sea level to a remote camera controlled through a pair of virtual goggles.
In their quest to explore every avenue to make unique images, they are now turning to the spy market. Technology has advanced to the point where GPS and computer controlled micro aircraft can carry video surveillance cameras for the military or search and rescue missions. That same technology, like the AirRobot, can also carry a 10 megapixel still camera to an altitude of 3,000 feet, creating a distinctive perspective on a subject where normal aircraft or a helicopter may be impractical to fly.
The stealthy AirRobot will fly for 20 minutes on field replaceable rechargeable batteries. Four carbon fiber blades supply vertical lift to the unit, which is stabilized by a combination of gyroscopic, barometric and magnetic sensors. AirRobot weighs only two pounds and breaks down in pieces small enough to fit in a backpack. The second generation of this amazing little aircraft is in production and we are hoping its larger payload will lift a digital SLR to vantage points yet explored.
My childhood memories are slightly fuzzy, flicker, are briefly interrupted by black squiggling filaments of lint and accompanied by the soundtrack of 8mm sprocket holes begrudgingly snaking though a film projector. Memories that are literally decaying on celluloid film base, packed away in some box in my parent’s attic.
It seems a matter of inevitable chemistry; oxygen and water present in a confined film container creates an acidic chemical cocktail that reacts with the cellulose acetate film turning it into a brittle decaying mess. For most of us who don’t keep our precious memories stored in temperature and humidity controlled vaults, you may want to take a look at an article in Saturday’s New York Times by Alina Tugend, detailing the technology and services available to transfer your film and video to DVD.
If you’d like to read more on the chemical process of 8mm movie film decay, try this link detailing the vinegar syndrome of film degradation.
Dad, if you are reading, please start digging out the old home movies, let’s get them converted to DVD!
When Leica rolled out the long awaited M8 digital rangefinder at Photokina last year, I’ll have to admit I was one of the throng willing to queue up at the Leica booth for 30 minutes just to get my hands on the prized piece of German engineering. Unfortunately that euphoria was dashed as press reviews revealed some of the shortfalls of the camera, extreme color shifts due to a lack of infrared filtering and poor image quality at higher ISO ratings.
Fortunately Leica seems to have taken these shortcomings seriously, releasing infrared filters and posting several firmware upgrades, including their most recent, M8 Firmware Update 1.107.
Through the combination of infrared filters and firmware upgrades the M8 image quality continues to move in a positive direction. This latest upgrade was released to address concerns over the auto white balance not hitting the mark and amount of digital noise showing when using the higher ISO range of the camera. A quick test of the AWB after upgrading displayed that Leica engineers still have a little more work to do, at least when dealing with florescent lights.
These firmware upgrades are highly recommended and continue to bring the M8 closer to the quality considered needed to be a serious replacement for the venerable M series film cameras.