Sunday, 21 of December of 2014

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Season Three of Game of Thrones Coming in March

Season Three of Game of Thrones Coming in March

I’ve just been looking around at the Game of Thrones site and looking at the photos and the film stills shown there and I’m amazed. I know that this series isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it still looks awesome. The second season DVDs have just recently gone on sale and I, of course, nabbed them. I wish they had been available sooner but HBO seems to dislike the idea of making money.

At any rate, I’ve got my television prepped and my DVR set up so that I can enjoy season three in all of its glory. I wish they would provide more information about the different filming locations but I understand that they are reluctant to do that because it devalues some of the exclusive extras that go into the DVD sets. Still, I know they were in Ireland and Iceland. I think that the desert scenes were shot in Morocco.

This season looks like it’s going to be epic so I’d suggest that, if you’re planning to watch it, you make sure that your television is up to the task of displaying it. If you need a new one, then there is still plenty of time to order and have one delivered before the big day of March 31. And, if you’re a fan of the series, what scene are you most looking forward to in season three?

— da Bird


New Cameras From Sony!

New Cameras From Sony!

We’ve just set up the pre-orders for two new cameras from Sony: the Sony Alpha SLT-A58K and the Sony NEX-3NL. Both of these cameras boast great new features, making them ideal for novices wishing to move beyond their first point-and-shoot and into the ever-widening world of photography.

The Sony NEX-3NL is a compact system camera that comes with many great and useful features. It sports a 16.1 megapixel Exmor APS-C image sensor. This sensor allows the camera to capture photos with wonderful depth of color and sharpness. This model also comes with the all-new SELP1650 lens with a motorized zoom lever and body control which allows for one-handed photography and smooth zooming even when shooting self portraits. The LCD screen tilts up to 180°, letting you get creative with your photography and the angles of attack in your images. The NEX-3NL is also the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera, making it infinitely portable for great action, wildlife, or landscape shots. The ISO 16000 sensitivity and advanced noise reduction allow for great twilight or low-light photography and the built-in Guide Number 6 Flash can help shed light on a dark scene.

The NEX-3NL also comes with several great video-capture features including the ability to take full HD movies shooting at 1080/60i/24 frames per second in Blu-Ray friendly AVCHD format or in 1080/30 frames per second in MP4 format for computer users. This Sony camera also comes with a plethora of modes and settings to help you frame and capture the images you want to keep. The Sony NEX-3NL is available for pre-order for the low price of $498.00 and is scheduled to ship as soon as Sony releases the camera.

The next camera in the line-up is the Sony Alpha SLT-A58K. This DSLR packs well outside of its weight class with a 20.1 megapixel Exmor HD APS image sensor and an advanced 15-point AF system with 3 cross-sensors, allowing for unparalleled sharpness and focus in photography. The translucent mirror technology inside the camera accelerates the AF performance, allowing the camera to capture images faster and more clearly where other DSLRs would be in the middle of focusing and would miss the shot. The SVGA OLED Tru-Finder and the large 2.7′ tilting LCD screen make it easy to capture and frame the images you want to keep while a diverse array of modes and features lets you move through the settings quickly and efficiently. Like the NEX-3NL, the Alpha SLT-A58K has an ISO sensitivity of up to 16000 with advanced noise reduction, letting you take great low-light photos. This DSLR also allows for the capture of 1080/60i/24 frames per second full HD video in Blu-Ray friendly AVCHD format or for 1080/30 frames per second movies in computer-friendly MP4 format.

The Sony Alpha SLT-A58K is available for pre-order for only $598.00 and is scheduled to ship in April 2013.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

While there haven’t been any meteor strikes this week, it’s still been a busy week in the world of photography. The top story of the week is Nikon’s announcement of their new D7100. This new high-end DSLR is slated to be feature-packed. We’ll post more about it as more details emerge. Also big in the news this week has been flash photography. With the wintery weather giving way to spring, lighting has become a key topic on many photography blogs and sites. Photojournalists around the world continue to cover major events and send their photos back for the rest of us to see what is going on.

If you aren’t following us on Twitter, these are the things you might have missed out on. Don’t worry; as we do every Friday, we’ll recap the week’s news for you below!


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and see you again on Monday!

— da Bird


The Difference Between Digital And Optical Zoom

The Difference Between Digital And Optical Zoom

Many people who are trying to decide if they should buy and carry a point-and-shoot camera in addition to their smartphone often wonder if there is much in the way of advantage for the camera. This is a topic we have discussed on this blog before. And, as a camera store, we are, predictably, of the opinion that a real camera is much better than a smartphone’s built-in camera.

We’ve already covered the fact that the sensor in a dedicated camera will be better and larger than the sensor found in a smartphone camera. However, there is another way in which a point-and-shoot will generally beat out a smartphone camera and that is in the area of zoom. A camera will generally have the ability to do optical or “true” zoom while a smartphone will only be able to do digital zoom. What’s the difference? A lot.

“True” optical zoom takes place when the lens is extended out of the camera, creating a telescope-like effect that allows the camera to narrow its focus. This also creates the illusion that the camera is closer to the subject because of the removal of the greater background and periphery as well as the magnification of the focal point. To do this requires that part of the lens be able to move, creating distance between itself and the focusing sensor.

Digital zoom is a different beast entirely. Instead of magnifying the subject, digital zoom crops out the surrounding area and enlarges the subject, using a bit of software to color in the empty pixels. To see how this works and why it doesn’t give the clear vision that true zoom gives, open up any image on your computer in your image editor of choice and “zoom” in a few times. You’re not seeing clearer detail — you’re seeing pixels. The same process happens with digital zoom — you don’t get a sharper image with a tighter focus, you get an enlarged version with guesstimated coloring. The details won’t be clearer as they are with a camera — the focus will just be larger.

Why don’t smartphones offer true zoom? For the same reason they don’t offer many other features you’ll see on a camera — space. Smartphone cameras are good for complete novices or for getting a quick picture when you don’t care if the quality is very good or not. However, for anyone who cares about how their photos look, the smartphone camera is no substitute for a real camera.

— da Bird


Camera Proliferation and The Meteor Seen ‘Round The World

Camera Proliferation and The Meteor Seen 'Round The World

Considering the hype that the asteroid 2012 DA 14 caused with its pass-by so close to Earth, we were all expecting that would be the biggest news taking place last Friday. However, when a horse-sized meteor weighing in at 7,000 – 10,000 tons slammed into Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over a sparsely populated part of the world — and more, when photos and video of the event hit the Internet — 2012 DA 14 faded into insignificance.

One question that has come up over and over is “how did so many people get to film it?” Smartphones and tablets have proliferated far and wide, putting video cameras in the hands of just about everyone. However, another reason this event was captured from so many different angles is down to something of a Russian quirk: Russian cars are commonly equipped with dashboard cameras. With a country that spans eleven time zones, monitoring traffic and dealing with accidents would be difficult. Factor in the corruption in the police and courts and the fact that first-hand accounts aren’t favored in trials and it becomes incumbent on everyone to provide video of the accident.

With footage from so many different cars and angles quickly uploaded to YouTube, it took no time at all for the news to spread. An event that once would have been remembered only by eye-witnesses and would have been discounted by the rest of the world has now been captured on video and sent around the world less than an hour after it happened. Cameras really are helping not only to spread the art of photography, but to capture historical events such as this one.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been a crazy week this week. Last weekend’s snows are still around, albeit significantly melted. There will be more snow this weekend if the weather forecasts are anywhere near correct. However, it won’t be as much as last weekend’s so hopefully shipping won’t be impacted. Still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the FedEx site for information about that.

In photography news this week, the Chinese New Year, the Northeastern Blizzard, and Carnival have all been headlines this week. There have also been several new announcements in photography gear and cameras. All of these stories and more have been featured in our Twitter feed. Don’t worry, we’ll recap the top stories for those of you who are not following us on Twitter. One of the top stories today is also the Explosion of a Meteor over Russia. There have been several videos of this event posted up on YouTube. If you watch one of them, turn the volume down a bit because the sonic boom and the shockwave hitting are loud.


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and see you again on Monday!

— da Bird


Questions About Movie Production Answered!

Questions About Movie Production Answered!

Things are getting interesting over here at Beach Camera. In the last couple of weeks, some of the geeks have decided to try to make a movie. So, they’ve been arguing over who was going to do which jobs on the production team or even what jobs were on the production team. I decided to stop ignoring the end credits for once to see what they were on about. I came away from that exercise mostly confused until I went and looked things up. If you’ve ever been like that, then this post will be a big help to you.

Most titles are pretty self-explanatory. After all, the producer is the guy who gets the money to fund the movie and who makes sure it actually gets made. The director is the one who directs the scenes and all that. The actors are the ones who act out the movie. But what is a gaffer? Or a best boy? Key Grip? Dolly Grip? Gripper? Boom Operator? And what is the deal with that slate thing with all the numbers on it that makes that “SNAP” sound? Don’t worry, I had the same questions and I’m going to answer them for you now!

First, the easiest: that slate is called a clapperboard and it is held in front of the camera for a few seconds before each take so that they can see which scene, take, and camera angle that footage is from. The reason it makes that “SNAP” sound is that the sound is very distinct and is used to make certain that the film and the sound tracts are in sync.

Now for the funny-sounding job titles. A gaffer is the head of the Electrical Department. He’s in charge of designing the electrical and lighting plan for the whole production. The Best Boys are assistants to the gaffer or the Key Grip. And the Key Grip is the head of the Set Operations department. He works with the director on making sure each set is lit properly and helps with the blocking (the actors’ movements) to avoid issues with the lighting or with the cameras running over important power cords. The Dolly Grip is the person who lays down any track that a camera is placed on and who moves that camera (with the cameraman being a rider). The track is called the “dolly track” and the rig the camera and the cameraman sit on is called the “dolly” hence the name: Dolly Grip. Grippers or Grips are workers in the Set Operations Department who do the heavy lifting and are responsible for the light rigging on the sets. And, lastly, the Boom Operator is the guy who works the large, fuzzy, overhead microphone that is normally held above the actors’ heads and out of the camera frame.

Ridiculous names aside, reading up on this makes me respect the actors all the more. TV shows and movies often make it seem as if the actors are there with just a cameraman. For there to actually be a small crowd of people every few dozen feet or so and for the actors to carry on with the illusion, that’s skillful to say the least.

— da Bird


Using DSLRs in Cinematography

Using DSLRs in Cinematography

Taking a break from the normal drone of history around these parts, I thought today we’d have a little fun looking at the present and the future of cameras and film-making.

Most everyone who thinks of movie cameras thinks of the big rig with a huge viewfinder that weighs a ton. No one thinks of a camera they could walk into any store (or go online) and order and carry around with them in a camera bag. Well, the day is quickly coming when cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II replace the big camera rigs entirely when it comes to film-making. Several movies have already used it to film some scenes (traditional film cameras were used on scenes that required greater depth-of-field). These movies include Act of Valor (shot using only the 5D), Marvel’s The Avengers used it in several scenes. The popular television show House used this camera for filming the scenes with the babies in the episode “Lockdown,” figuring that the little actors would respond more positively to a smaller camera than a big looming rig. The scenes from “Lockdown” were so well-done that the camera was later used to film the entirety of the season 6 finale “Help Me.” The rebooted series Hawaii Five-0 is also being shot with the Canon 5D Mark II.

With consumer-market cameras getting better and better and the prices coming down, it won’t be long before just about every household has a camera capable of shooting a movie on their shelves. When that happens, it could lead to a Renaissance in film-making and television-shows as everyday people get together to film their own shows and movies and use the power of the Internet to distribute them — all without needing to set foot in a Hollywood or New York studio.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday means another weekly wrap-up of our top stories for those of you who aren’t following us on Twitter. It’s been a good week for photographers and photography buffs around the world. However, this weekend will provide even more opportunities for any winter photographers in the northeastern United States. There is a snow storm that will be hitting the region with blizzard conditions in some parts of the area. This may impact deliveries so keep an eye on FedEx’s site for news about delays. Also, keep in mind that just because it’s clear where you are doesn’t mean it’s clear at your regional hub or at our hub.

And now, without further ado: the wrap-up!


That’s all for this week. Stay safe, stay warm, and see you again next week!

— da Bird


Post-Processing Techniques: Photo Stacking

Post-Processing Techniques: Photo Stacking

There are many different ways of processing photos in the development phase in order to improve them without having to resort to drastic measures. Some of the most common methods include removing the “red eye” from portraits or softening a harsh light source. HDR or high dynamic range is another method that is becoming more and more commonly seen in photos. However, there are many ways to handle photos in processing to achieve interesting effects. One of those methods is called photo stacking.

Photo stacking is a trick used most frequently with macro lenses in order to achieve a balanced depth-of-field. In order to make this work, the photographer needs several photos of the same subject but with the focus of each photo on slightly different points. To make that work, the photographer will often use a tripod since stability is absolutely crucial to laying the photos together in an editor in later steps. Once the photographer has gotten all of the images he needs, he can then proceed to the next step: editing the images into a single photo.

Using a computer, the photographer can open all of the photos into a single file, layering them and adjusting the layer settings as needed. Programs like Photoshop have an auto-align tool that can help a photographer get the layers lined up correctly so that there are no gaps or jumps between them despite each layer having a different focal point. Photoshop can also process the layers into a stack which will allow the photographer to paint back or forward a specific layer in case the auto-alignment was less than perfect. Once the stacking and the layers are arranged in a pleasing manner, the photographer can then continue to edit and process the photo as needed.

Photos that make use of stacking are often quite beautiful to look at. In some cases, the photo looks almost unreal in its beauty and detail. Below are a few images that make use of this technique to great effect. If you decide to give this trick a try, please share the results with us over on our Facebook page!


– da Bird

Stacked Flower by dcuk69 via Mark White Photography. Stacked Clouds by Matt Molloy via Peta Pixel. Flower Droplets by Brian Valentine via Wonderful Photos