Friday, 28 of November of 2014

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Extreme Photography: Storm Chasers

Extreme Photography: Storm Chasers

Please do not attempt to go out and capture photography in inclement weather without taking time to prepare yourself and your gear for the conditions. Also, please do not do this without having taken several safety courses and as many precautions as you can against injury. High winds and tornadoes are nothing to fool around with.

Many people enjoy engaging in extreme activities. Things like bungee jumping, skydiving, cliff-climbing, and hang-gliding can all be great chances for photography as well as a way to get a real adrenaline rush. However, for some photographers, recreational activities are not enough. These photographers often join teams of storm chasers and spend many months out of the year chasing down thunderstorms and tornadoes in hopes of capturing images that are not only morbidly fascinating to look at but could also yield information that could improve early warning systems and construction methods to make it easier to survive in the wake of a massive tornado.

The images that photographers with storm chasing teams capture are breath-taking. The images of the aftermath of a tornado, though, are often horrifying. The damage that tornadoes and thunderstorms can do to an area is devastating. However, the images and video captured can often help provide more information when added to weather balloons and scientific instruments launched that may, one day, lead to ways of better predicting where tornadoes will strike and what path they might take.

— da Bird

Photo by Zachary Caron


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings us another recap of the top stories from the world of photography for those of you who aren’t following us on Twitter. It’s been a very tumultuous couple of weeks with the Boston Marathon bombing, the fertilizer plant in Texas exploding, and the manhunt in Boston to find Suspect #2. Still, amidst the sound and the fury, the world of photography has carried on with advice for spring photographers, exhibits of nature’s works, information on new photo editing tricks and techniques, and much, much more. For those of you who have missed out, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


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

— da Bird


Kerry Skarbakka: The Struggle to Right Oneself

Kerry Skarbakka: The Struggle to Right Oneself

Earlier this week I stumbled across an interesting photography exhibit by Kerry Skarbakka. Called “The Struggle to Right Oneself” it consists of photographs of himself when he fell or jumped and was suspended completely in midair. Mr. Skarbakka used a variety of rigs and harnesses to protect the himself while he captured his photographs. His aim in this exhibit was to explore his own questions concerning the nature of control and the human condition. Mr. Skarbakka was inspired by the philosopher Heidegger’s description of the human experience as one of constant falling and that it is up to the individual to catch himself. His full exhibit and his thoughts on the experience can be found at his website.

Skarbakka does not consider himself a stuntman of any kind and took remarkable precautions to avoid injuring himself while shooting this exhibit. His poses and photographs should not be replicated without similar precautions.

— da Bird


Photography Is Not A Crime

Photography Is Not A Crime

In recent years, as digital cameras become more common and as cameras and recording devices are found more and more often on cell phones, people are beginning to run afoul of police officers by using their cameras or cell phones to capture footage of arrests, stop and searches, pull-overs, and other police activities. Quite often, the phones or cameras are confiscated and the footage erased. However, sometimes the recorders are arrested and charged with a plethora of crimes ranging from interfering with a police activity to violation of wire-tapping laws. In light of the recent attacks in Boston, it’s reasonable to expect that there will be more and more infringements of the rights of photographers and video-recorders in the foreseeable future.

So, is photography a crime? Is it illegal to film an arrest? Keep in mind that no one here is a lawyer and that the answer to that can be “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.”

In general, in most states, you are allowed to film anyone who is in a public space. That includes police officers. The general principle is that if a person is in a public area or a private area accessible to the public (such as a mall), then they have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, many people, law enforcement included, will take exception to being photographed or filmed. And, some security guards will vow that photographing anything is illegal. So, what is a photographer to do?

First of all, be polite. If you’re confronted by someone who wants you to stop photographing or filming something, ask why. You can generally diffuse the tension if you explain that you’re photographing a particular thing or filming a particular activity.

If the person still insists that you have no right to photograph or film a given area, and if you feel that you really want to argue over it, then simply inform the person that you have the right to photograph or film in public areas or areas that are accessible to the public. If you are in a mall or other privately-owned area, you will want to make certain you’ve read the posted rules in advance and are certain that photography is allowed.

If you are confronted by security or law enforcement, remember that they cannot delete your images or confiscate your equipment without due process. The only exception to this is in the case of where you might have filmed a crime occurring and they need your recording or photos as evidence.

Should you be accosted or arrested for practicing your photography in an area where you know it is legal, you should consult with an attorney in your area as soon as you can for advice on how to get any charges dismissed or to get any confiscated equipment back.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Today is a rather tense Friday as everyone is waiting on news from Boston as to whether or not they’ve caught the Boston Marathon Bombing suspect who’s on the loose. Here’s to hoping that they do catch him with no one being hurt.

That story — the Boston Marathon Bombing — has been the top story of the week. However, there has been plenty of other activity in the world of photography. New lenses, new features, new photojournals, and more advice for photographers from novice to pro has been published on the Internet this week. If you are following us on Twitter then you’ll have already seen these stories. However, if you are not, we’ll recap them for you below.


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

— da Bird


Photographing Optical Illusions

Photographing Optical Illusions

Just about all of us have seen or shared some of the optical illusion graphics that you can find on Facebook. However, earlier this week I came across one I hadn’t seen before that wasn’t a traditional graphic. It was a photograph of a car with a rather interesting paint job. The first time I saw it, I spent about five minutes staring at it before I figured out the trick. Not everyone who saw it got it right away because it is rather cleverly done.

Here’s the image:

Yes, there is only one car. However, the way that the paint job was done easily tricks the viewer into thinking that there are two cars. So, how was this little bit of optical magic achieved? With some reliance on the human eye’s weaknesses and the skilled use of shading.

First things first, the human eye is really terrible at judging size and depth from a distance. That’s why so many optical illusions work. There are many explanations of this phenomenon out there on the Internet so I’m not going to belabor the point here.

Now, in this photo, people will see two cars at a glance because the painter made use of the fact that a sports car will be much smaller in height than a sports utility vehicle. The painter also shaded the windows in the sports car and the windshield so that they appear to be tinted but still have some transparency, letting us “see” through the windows and windshield. The painter also integrated the SUV’s wheels and fenders into the illusion, making them seem to really be part of the sports car in the foreground. It isn’t until you glance back towards the rear bumper that the illusion starts to fall apart. The sun’s reflection in the photograph helps dispel the illusion of depth as well. While the headlights blend in on both vehicles quite well, the SUV’s tail lights are far too high to be part of the sports car which is another area where the illusion fails. However, overall, it is a very interesting paint job and a great optical illusion guaranteed to make the casual passerby do a double-take while their brains and eyes argue over exactly what they are seeing.

— da Bird


Is Your Camera More Powerful Than Hubble’s?

Is Your Camera More Powerful Than Hubble's?

This is a question that has come up from time to time here at Beach Camera. People wonder if the cameras we sell are as powerful as the ones that cost several millions or billions and get taken up into space to photograph the universe. After all, many of those cameras were designed and sent up years ago and the consumer camera market brings out newer, more powerful models every year or so. Therefore, it stands to reason that the consumer market has caught up with and perhaps passed NASA’s optics, right?

Wrong.

The Hubble Space Telescope and other space telescope have a couple of things that pretty much every consumer camera on the market lacks. Mirrors, specifically. Several very large, very precisely placed, and very expensive mirrors. As a matter of fact, right after the Hubble Telescope was sent up, NASA discovered that the mirror was not the exact shape it needed to be and had to send a Shuttle mission with a new mirror to correct the problem. These mirrors are necessary to focus the light from distant stars so that the telescope can “see” anything at all to image it. Also, the Hubble has an effective focal length of 57.6 meters and an aperture of f/24. That means that the housing for the “camera” needs to be about 13 meters long and 4 meters in diameter — something that size is not going to be easily carried around on Earth.

Lastly, the Hubble has lenses and imaging sensors that would be useless in a standard consumer-grade camera but are essential in a space telescope. These lenses and sensors allow Hubble to “see” into the ultraviolet and the infrared parts of the light spectrum — areas that are normally impossible for humans or consumer-grade cameras to see. The lenses and sensors let astronomers use the information in the photo to gauge things like how far away a star or galaxy is, whether there is any kind of Doppler-shift in its orbit that might indicate a planetary system, what kind of star it is, as well as allowing them to take beautiful snapshots of some of the most distant galaxies and stars in our universe.

So, in brief, your camera probably isn’t as powerful at focusing on low-light settings or resolving distant objects as the Hubble’s camera is but that’s because your camera is designed to do things that the Hubble camera is not and vice versa.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings another wrap-up to a busy week in the world of photography. With spring finally deciding to tease us with warmer temperatures, photographers have been out capturing the change of seasons. Many photography bloggers and professionals have also spent time giving advice to newer photographers on techniques, lighting, and composition for the change of seasons. All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights from this week for you below!


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

— da Bird


Get out in the Garden this Spring

Get out in the Garden this Spring

Nice weather finally arriving has gotten everyone here at the office stirred up. No one really wants to stay inside during the day unless they absolutely have to. One thing that some of them are doing is starting to work on their gardens. While this is a great way to get some sun and to have a good time playing in the dirt, it’s also a great time for taking a few photos.

Spring is a very rare time for photography. It’s the time of year when you can see the most radical changes in plants in a fairly short period of time. Trees that were completely bare just a few weeks ago will soon be in full bloom and have all of their leaves back. The skies and phone lines that were so empty will soon host a full complement of birds. And the grass that was so dull and dry will soon be fresh and green again. Spring is an absolutely ideal time for those of you who received cameras for Christmas to get outside and start experimenting. With the sun being higher in the sky and staying above the horizons for more time each day, there’s better lighting — the most important requirement for photography. Taking photos of flowers in various stages of bloom gives you the chance to master zoom photography and to experiment a bit with which ISO settings give you the look you want in your photos. As birds return from their winter migration homes, you have a chance to play around in your own yard with ways to interact with wildlife that you can later use to help capture photos of different creatures much further afield.

So, get out there and get started with your photography. Spring offers you plenty of variety and time to get the basics down before summer and fall come rolling past.

— da Bird


Spring-Time Multi-Tasking Fun

Spring-Time Multi-Tasking Fun

It took its sweet time getting here but it’s finally spring. The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and probably just about everybody is getting ready to do their spring cleaning. However, it’s still not quite warm enough to break out the grill and the picnic tables so cooking without getting the kitchen messed up seems impossible, right?

Not necessarily. As I found out from eavesdropping on my coworkers, apparently a couple of them have stumbled onto a way to cook without creating a mess while they clean the computer room. They break out the slow cooker. This turned out to be a really great idea so I got a couple of recipes off them to share with the rest of you who are probably getting ready to have a meltdown over the annual spring cleaning.

Pot Roast:
3 – 4 potatoes
2 – 3 carrots
Flour
Oil
Butter
Salt
Pepper
Garlic
Roast Beef

Peel potatoes and carrots. Cut potatoes into wedges as if for french fries. Cut carrots into small, thin circular segments. Place in slow cooker. Heat oil in a skillet. Salt and pepper the roast and cover with flour. Brown roast on all sides in the skillet and then place in the slow cooker. Add salt and pepper and garlic as desired to the top of the roast. Cut butter thin and cover top of the roast. Fill slow cooker with water until roast is half-way submerged. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.

Steak Dinner:
3/4 inch thick steak
1/2 cup of steak sauce
Frozen corn cobs
Baking potatoes
Salt, pepper (as desired)
Tin foil

Salt and pepper the steak as desired. Pour the steak sauce over the steak and cover it with a layer of tin foil and place in the slow cooker. Add foil-wrapped potatoes and foil-wrapped frozen corn cobs. Cook on low for 6 hours.

This recipe can also be used with thick pork chops or chicken breasts and barbeque sauce.

We’d love to hear some of your recipes. Share them with us in the comments below!

— da Bird