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Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another great week in the world of photography this week. Beginning with Memorial Day on Monday, photographers have been out in force capturing photos of memorials to the fallen. With the weather warming up, new photographers are beginning to test their wings and try out new things with their cameras. To help them, seasoned photographers have been busily posting columns full of advice, tips, and tricks that work for them.

All of these things and more were featured in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the top stories you might have missed below!


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

– da Bird


Desert Island Photography Bag

Desert Island Photography Bag

If you were to be trapped on a desert island or shipped off to a remote location, what are the top five items you would carry in your photography bag? For the purposes of this exercise, pretend that all of your food, clothing, and shelter needs will be taken care of so you don’t have to carry anything with you other than your camera and assorted gear. If you want to be really creative, you can also pretend that everything you’re going to carry would be put into a magical bag so that the weight is negligible.

For me, I would take the following items:

1. Sony Alpha 65 — This is a great camera loaded with lots of features. With the default lens (18-135mm Zoom Lens), you can get the most for your money. The controls are fairly easy to learn and use and offer you a wide range of options from HDR to HD video, sweeps, panoramas, and object tracking. Not to mention that it also has advanced anti-dust technology which makes it perfect for a desert island.

2. Zeikos TR59B 59″ Full Size Photo / Video Tripod– If I’m going to be stuck on a deserted island, I’m going to make use of the fact that there will be absolutely no light pollution to get some great astrophotography done. Since there’s no way I’m going to hold a camera for hours and hours on end getting long-exposure shots of distant stars and galaxies, I’ll be happy to put the thing on a tripod and let it do the work for me. Also, if there were animals sharing the island with me (and if they weren’t inclined towards attacking me), I could probably get some great stills and video of them using this.

3. Sony HVLF60M External Flash/Video Light — Great for low-light or no-light situations or for capturing video. With this flash, I could take interior and night-time pictures of the Gilligan’s Island-type house I’d probably wind up building and all of the cool things I’d have inside of it. Also, if the desert island has some caves, I could use this flash to not only light my way through them but to also get good images of them. Caves are cool.

4. Sony SAL55200 – DT 55-200mm f4-5.6 Compact Telephoto Zoom Lens — Harking back to the aforementioned “neighbors” I might share the island with, if they were the kind with sharp teeth, I’d prefer to get my images of them from a distance. Also, with a telephoto lens, I’ll bet I could get some great shots of distant cosmological phenomena.

5. Sony SAL50M28 – 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens — Not everything on the island will be big or something I’d want to keep my distance from. For smaller animals, colorful insects, or flora, I’d like to have a macro lens on hand to get some really good close-up shots with a shallow depth-of-field.

So, what about you? What would you be carrying? Let us know in the comments below!

– da Bird


Memorial Day

All gave some. Some gave all. Today, we honor those who have paid the price for our freedom.

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. While many take today to barbeque, get together with their families, and enjoy the warming weather, it is also a day of remembrance for all who fought and died in the wars from the Civil War to the War in Iraq. According to our resident historian, the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were something of a charnel house with the Civil War, two World Wars and then a longer Cold War with several flare-ups. Yet, through it all, brave men and women answered the call to fight and die so that others could live their lives in peace and freedom.

Memorial Day is more than just a day for cooking on the grill, catching the latest sales, or spending time with the family. We should all take a few moments today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live on, carrying their lights in our memories even after they themselves returned to dust.

Thanks to all who have served and are serving now!

– Beach Camera


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings us to the end of another week in the world of photography. There have been plenty of announcements concerning new cameras, lenses, and other photography gear. Beyond that, photographers are reaching out via the new Flickr site to show off their latest and greatest photos. Adobe seems to have made a series of missteps with their subscription services. The tornado in Oklahoma this week has been one of the top stories with weather and scientific photographers as well as photojournalists rushing to capture images of the devastation and the survivors as they begin to rebuild.

All of these stories and more have been featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you aren’t following us on Twitter then we’ll hit the highlights for you below.


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great Memorial Day weekend and see you again next week.

– da Bird


Making the Game of Thrones

Making the Game of Thrones

Over the past few years, the Game of Thrones has become something of a topic for water-cooler discussion. Based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the HBO television show has gone from being a fan-only following to a cultural sensation. Both the books and the shows have strong followings with fans being adamant about their favorite and least favorite characters. However, what goes in to making the television series? A full “making of” could take days to write and hours to read. So, since photography is kind of our thing here at Beach Camera, let’s dive into that aspect of making the Game of Thrones.

The first step of photography is probably shooting still photography of the different possible filming locations. The series generally does shooting in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Morocco, and a few other locales. Photographers visit these regions and send back photos to the directors and the producers who, after factoring in other issues (cost, temperature, weather, taxes, ability to reach the locations easily) decide where the shooting will take place.

The camera of choice for the Game of Thrones cinematographers is the ARRI Alexa camera. This is a very high-end digital video camera that rings in at close to $100,000. However, with its ability to work in a variety of climates, latitudes, and conditions, the cinematographers consider it their preferred workhorse. This camera also is all digital, allowing the footage to be stored and sent for editing and post-production very quickly. The camera controllers can mount the Alexa on a rig and use dollies to move it or they can use a body-rig that allows them to get into the action of the battle sequence shots.

While we don’t carry the Alexa in our stores, we do carry other cameras that have been used in filming for television and the silver screen. The most notable of them is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III which was used to film an episode of Criminal Minds. Even though these slightly-less-high-end cameras lack all of the bells and whistles that major rigs like the Alexa have, they are more than good enough to use to get a good start on learning how to film great footage.

– da Bird


Bullet-Time…With Only One Camera!

Bullet-Time...With Only One Camera!

One of the most memorable innovations in the cinema in recent history that led to a complete break-through in filming was the “bullet-time” effect from The Matrix. Most of you have probably seen the scenes where this effect was used — the most notable one being the scene where Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) are fighting in an underground metro station and seem to be suspended in midair as the camera rotates around them. Back in 1999, this effect was achieved by using many very expensive high-speed cameras set up around the actors. A computer would later parse and sort the frames into the memorable effect for that scene.

Even today, recreating that effect takes many cameras. Or does it? It turns out that this rotating effect can be achieved with a single camera, a ceiling fan, and a simple lighting trick. Mark Rober, a NASA engineer, figured out how to make it work without costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive cameras and computer. Using the ceiling fan motor (with the blades removed), he built a platform that the motor would spin. He then mounted a GoPro camera to the edge of the platform and put up a neutral toned backdrop. Lastly were the two lights that he attached to the platform to minimize the shadow that hit the backdrop. It turns out that eliminating the shadow is the trick to making this effect work with a single camera. Without the shadow against the backdrop for reference, the eye is easily tricked into thinking that the camera is stationary and the subject of the video is spinning instead of it being the other way around.


Sadly, to recreate the actual bullet-time photography from The Matrix, you probably will still need multiple cameras. Rober’s solution, while very creative, seems to work for small-scale objects only. However, perhaps some other photographer will come across his work and figure out a way to recreate the multi-camera shooting effect using only one camera. Let us know how you think it can be done, or better yet, show us!

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been a short week here due to the holidays but that doesn’t mean the world of photography has come to a halt. Over the past few days, there have been plenty of stories breaking regarding new cameras, reviews, break-downs, and photography techniques. All of these stories and more have been featured on our Twitter feed. However, if you are not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights from this rather short week for you below!

That’s all, folks! Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

– da Bird


Historical Photography: Capturing the Essence of Americana

Historical Photography: Capturing the Essence of Americana

The United States is filled with places that are beautiful for their scenery, their majesty, and their history. Every year, thousands upon thousands of visitors flock to different sites to look in wonder upon the works of man or nature or to stop and take in a room where some momentous event took place: the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Appomattox, and many more.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at photos of historical sites that capture the essence of America in some manner. If you have any photos you’d like featured in this series, feel free to post them to our Facebook page with all of the relevant information (photographer, location, date, caption information) and we might include it.

This week, we’re setting the Wayback machine to the 1950s and the birth of American Rock and Roll. This uniquely American music style was born out of the Deep Southern traditions of blues, jazz, gospel, and jump blues. These music styles had been percolating in the South for generations after the Civil War. After the Second World War, they began to meld and mix as segregation led to greater contact between the whites and blacks of the region, bringing together their musical heritage into the mix called “rock and roll.”

However, even though the music of this era was wildly popular, it was the photographers who captured the images of charismatic singers and performers who helped fuel the fanaticism among followers of the most heavily promoted artists. Some of their photographs have become so famous that the Library of Congress acquired all of the rights to them and has archived them as essential to capturing the image of this era of American musical history. Posters featuring Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens, and many others are stored in the Library of Congress’s collection along with the negatives and photos from live concerts, television performances, and magazine covers. Some photographers, such as Elvis’s photographer Alfred Wertheimer, have maintained and preserved their own collections. Wertheimer’s can be viewed at his website here.


 

Early pioneers in this American musical genre were Elvis Presley (Tupelo, Mississippi), Chuck Berry (St. Louis, Missouri), Little Richard (Macon, Georgia), and Jerry Lee Lewis (Ferriday, Louisiana). With their mixing styles and the blending of traditions, these pioneers — along with many, many others — changed the shape of modern music. Rock and roll traveled over the Atlantic to the United Kingdom and then returned in force with the British Invasion of the 1960s and 70s. In addition to this major historical movement in music, rock and roll gave birth to the traditions of heavy metal, glamrock, punk, Ska, hip hop, and rap. Rock and roll also defined a generation as the Baby Boomers grew up and created events such as Woodstock, Lollapalooza, and many more.

Drawing from such a diverse mix of traditions and regions, rock and roll, and its history, are quintessentially part of Americana.

– da Bird

All images courtesy of the Library of Congress


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another week has passed by and it’s been another great one for the world of photography. If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your photography or are just a photography enthusiast who likes to see great photos from pros, then this has been a good week for you. Sony has announced a new Cyber-shot camera — we featured it on this blog earlier in the week — and Olympus has some great things in store for their customers. As the season heats up, photojournalists around the world are capturing the changing guard and the big stories that impact areas both small and large.

If you’re not following us on Twitter then you might have missed out on a lot of these stories. Don’t worry, though. We’ll recap the week for you below!


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

– da Bird


Science and Photography: Capturing the Natural World

Science and Photography: Capturing the Natural World

Most people think of photography as something of an art form and, to a great extent, it is. Photography is about capturing the essence of a particular moment. There are many different branches and ways of practicing photography. Some of the most well-known are portrait photography and wedding photography — disciplines that capture a single event or image for an individual. Others are wildlife and landscape photography who take a much different extreme in capturing a larger “now” that will not change drastically over the course of the average person’s lifetime. There are also photojournalists, sports photographers, and others who, with the press of a button, preserve images of historical value so that future generations can see the events the same way that the rest of us have seen them.

Still, there is one branch of photography that is often overlooked even though it produces some of the most beautiful and unbelievable images. That branch is scientific photography. Scientific photographers seek to capture images of the world and its phenomena that most people wouldn’t even dream really existed. They use a variety of lenses and scopes to peer into the world down to the atomic scale or to gaze into the cosmos and see light-years across. They also make use of long exposures to create images of surprising beauty and complexity with simple household items.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive into some of the most interesting sights seen by scientific photographers. These will include things such as the waterbear that made the rounds on the Internet a few months ago to images from the Hubble and other deep space telescopes. However, today we’ll look into the photography of Caleb Charland. Caleb Charland loves to use long exposures and common items to demonstrate the rules of mathematics and physics. His collection, available here, was inspired by children’s books of science experiments. Charland enjoys creating his images the analogue way and only uses Photoshop to make slight color and tone adjustments — not to create the effects in any of his photos.

The most amazing image is probably the photo of the atomic model created using a drill and a lightpen held at various angles to create the illusion of the electron trails orbiting the nucleus. All of the images are wonderful and awe-inspiring but that one is my personal favorite. It’s well worth the time to head over and check out the collection and the interview over at My Modern Met.

– da Bird