Wednesday, 3 of September of 2014

Archives from month » July, 2013

Capturing the Kopp-Etchells Effect

Capturing the Kopp-Etchells Effect

Last year, we contacted war photographer Michael Yon for an interview about his work in photographing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yesterday, NPR caught up with him to showcase some of his newer photos capturing what he is calling the “Kopp-Etchells Effect.” This strange lighting effect occurs when helicopters land or take off in a very sandy environment. It makes for some very interesting photography, to say the least.

The debate is still out on what, exactly, causes this lighting to happen. Some say it is the friction generated from the blades on the rotors hitting particles of sand in the air. Others say it is actually bits of the blades themselves flaking off — though, if that were the case, one would think that the effect would be observable regardless of the environment. While scientists are looking into the definitive cause of this effect, the name itself is a rather interesting story. Yon chose the names to honor Corporal Benjamin Kopp (US) and Corporal Joseph Etchells (UK) who died in 2009. Etchells had requested to be cremated and have his remains put in a firecracker to be set off over a park where he played as a child. Though the firework event might not have happened, he has been given a second shot at that legacy with his name being attached to this phenomenon.

Have any of you ever seen the Kopp-Etchells effect in action? Do you have any clue what might be causing it? We’d love to hear your theories in the comments below!

– da Bird


Some Useful Tips for Digital Camera Owners

Some Useful Tips for Digital Camera Owners

While checking through stories for photography looking for some good blog fodder today, I stumbled over this really useful article at Popular Science. This article offers up some really good advice for people who own digital cameras, especially those that are pocket-sized.

The bit about having a photo with your phone number could definitely be useful in case you ever lose your camera or have it stolen. Some of the other tips are also useful (using your camera as a mirror in situations where there isn’t one). However, what are some other uses you could put your camera to? I really could have used a pocket camera when I was in college. It would have made taking notes in algebra and chemistry so much easier since I could have photographed the diagrams the professor put up instead of trying to copy them into my notes. I also could have used a camera to get out of a speeding ticket by proving that the speed limit sign was gone right ahead of a speeding trap (55 MPH down to 45 MPH on a State highway. The speed limit sign had been knocked down by a wreck earlier that week).

Cameras could also be useful for buying clothing. If you’re not certain whether or not something looks good on you (or if you’re like me and completely fashion-blind), then a quick photo with a pocket camera sent to someone who can discern these mysteries would make life much easier.

They could also help you with remembering exactly which kind of milk or eggs to get when your room-mate sends you out shopping and you get the “wrong” kind.

What are some things you could see using a pocket camera for other than taking photos?

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another crazy but fun-filled week in the world of photography. In Focus magazine is doing their Documerica series and have published many photos from around the United States taken during the 1970s. Mobile and smartphone photographers and manufacturers are working to improve the cameras in phones to get them up to spec with what photographers expect from a camera — even a camera that’s primary job is to send and receive calls instead of taking photos. New photography exhibits have opened and there are more and more ways to get information on how to improve your photography and how to cart your gear with you. 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 for you below!


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

– da Bird


America in the 1970s

America in the 1970s

During this week, In Focus magazine is running their Documerica Series. This photography series is part of the Documerica Project started by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s to document and show the effects of modern life on the environment over the course of several years. However, while photographers were primarily supposed to get images showing the effects of pollution and urban sprawl, they were also encouraged to capture daily life for the average American. This week, In Focus is sharing some of their photos on their website.

These photos are a fascinating glimpse at what was a very interesting time in American history. The turbulent days of the late 1960s were just behind us and the beginnings of the digital revolution were just being created. Transistors, microchips, and data compression technology were just over the horizon. Though there were difficult times in the 1970s with stagflation and petroleum shortages in the latter part of the decade, for the most part, the 1970s were a time of renewal in the arts and sciences. They were also an era where the old met the new as the last ranchers faded away and the new pioneers continued on with trips to the moon. Several of the photos from New York reflect this where you can see the classic era skyscrapers, such as the Empire State Building, standing against the same backdrop as the more modern era skyscrapers like the Twin Towers. Mining and manufacturing were still large bases in the American economy but they had changed drastically from the days of men with pickaxes and hammers to become more mechanized.

Thus far, In Focus has shown us photos from New York and from the Southwest in their Documerica Series. We’re looking forward to seeing more in this series from them as they bring back the look and feel of life during the shifting 70s.

– da Bird

Image via In Focus. Taken by Dan McCoy/NARA


Canon Opens An HQ in New York!

Canon Opens An HQ in New York!

Straight out of the horse’s mouth, we hear that Canon has finally opened a corporate headquarters in North America. Canon has been wanting to open a major office in the United States for several years now and we’re happy to congratulate them on achieving that goal as well as welcoming them here.

Canon’s new offices in Huntington, NY, called “One Canon Park” will be an anchor business for the Route 110 corridor. With a planned launch of 1,400 jobs with 750 to be added in the next five years in addition to 300 consultants working out of the new office, the company and the state of New York both hope to see an increase in relocation to Long Island and a renewed climate of grow and innovation. The office compound is expansive and gorgeous measuring in at Building square 700,000 square feet, is five stories tall (plus a basement level). In order to help keep the environment clean, the parking garage comes with twelve electric car charging stations. The compound also features eight acres of open land and two ponds.

On hand at today’s opening ceremony were Fujio Mitarai, chairman and CEO of Canon, Joe Adachi, president and CEO of Canon U.S.A. Also attending were Senator Chuck Schumer, Kenneth Adams president and CEO of Empire State Development, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and the Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone.

With Canon having a North American presence, American camera retailers, photography students, and customers will be able to visit the offices in order to participate in new product launches and demonstrations as well as working with Canon to develop better cameras in the future. All of us here at Beach Camera are thrilled to have one of our long-time photography partners living close by.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another great and busy week in the world of photography. As summer grinds on, photographers have been out capturing the hottest action of the season. In addition to that, camera manufacturers from Sony to Pentax have been working on perfecting their gear and cameras with an eye towards the consumer market. With everything that’s been going on, if you haven’t been following us on Twitter then there are a lot of things you might have missed out on this week. Don’t worry, though. As we do every Friday, we’ll replay the highlights for you below!


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

– da Bird


Summer Sunset Photos

Summer Sunset Photos

Summer is a great time to start working on your sunset photos. With the sun setting later, it gives you more time to find a good place to photograph from and means that you don’t have to be so rushed getting there from work if you’re not on vacation. That’s why the people over at Photography Talk have posted this rather useful article on getting sunset photos. It contains the normal tips you’d expect to see: find a good subject or focus for the photo (clouds, trees, silhouettes), adjust your white balance, don’t stare at the sun unless you want to suffer possible permanent eye damage.

However, we have a few things to add to their tips.

1) Don’t make the sun the main focus of the shot. Seriously, don’t do this unless you have some very special filters and lenses. Too much direct sunlight to the sensor can cause all kinds of problems with your camera.

2) Sometimes, the best sunset photos are those where you don’t see the sun at all. That doesn’t mean you wait until it’s completely set. Just that you focus on a different zone of the sky.

3) Silhouettes can be tricky at sunset since the lighting and the angle of lighting will change very rapidly. Sunrise and sunset are the two times of day when we can really “see” the rotation of the Earth. Be prepared to adjust your positioning accordingly.

4) Experiment with depth-of-field and focal points. Sometimes you’ll want the foreground to be blurred and the background to be sharp. Other times, you’ll want the reverse. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

5) If you stick around until after the sun has set, you can sometimes get great shots of the moon rising or the stars appearing as the sun’s light fades. For the stars, though, you’ll need to be fairly far away from urban light pollution.

6) Shadows can be great subjects.

7) So can items that, without direct lighting, are not quite what they appear to be. If you’ve ever staggered through your home late at night and scared yourself when you glimpsed a strange assortment of boxes or books that, without proper light, seemed to be some kind of monster, then you know what I’m talking about. (If you haven’t done that, then you have my condolences).

8) Don’t get too fixated on getting a particular shot. A lot of people want to capture that photo of birds flying across the sun as it sets. Birds are notoriously uncooperative with this (I should know, I am one). Instead of trying to force a photo to happen, just let it happen. You’ll often be happier with the results if you’re relaxed!

– da Bird


Beating the Heat While Photographing the Summer

Beating the Heat While Photographing the Summer

As summer rolls on and people are out and about on vacation, it’s natural to want to get out and get the best photographs you can. Summer’s long days and bright colors give photographers ample tools to work with — in some ways, even more than the colors of spring and autumn. However, summer does bring one thing that the other seasons don’t: heat. So, while you’re out there traipsing about in search of the perfect photo, please take some time to prepare yourself and to ensure that you won’t get beaten by the heat.

1) Wear Sunscreen — Even if you’re not on the beach, you’ll want to wear sunscreen if you’re going to be out during the hotter parts of the day (10 am – 4 pm). Wearing loose clothes is also a good idea — clothing that is too tight will not let your skin breathe or your sweat evaporate which will keep your body temperature up.

2) Don’t carry too much gear — Try to plan your trips carefully and carry only as much gear as you need. The less weight you’re carrying, the longer you’ll last outdoors. Also, the less gear you’re carrying, the more water you can carry.

3) Drink lots of water — Keep several bottles of water with you at all times when outside and drink even before you get thirsty. If you’re out in the heat and sweating, your body will need to replace the lost water in order to keep functioning so you can take your photos.

4) Carry some sports drinks with you — Water isn’t the only thing you lose while sweating. Salts and electrolytes need to be replaced and most sports drinks can do that for you.

5) Keep your cell phone with you. And charged — If worse come to worse, then you’ll want to be able to call for help. If you begin to feel excessively dizzy, notice that you are no longer sweating, or begin to suffer from severe muscle cramps or nausea, you may be suffering the early signs of heat exhaustion. Call someone immediately if you can and then do your best to find a cooler place to lie down.

6) Let people know where you’re going and when you’ll be there — Even if you have a cell phone with you, it’s a good idea to let others know where you’re going to be and when so if you don’t turn up for a later appointment, they’ll have a good idea of where to start looking for you.

7) Unless your camera’s equipped for it, don’t take photos of the sun — Looking at the sun directly is a bad idea. Even if you do it through a camera (unless you’re using very special lenses to protect the sensor).

Summer is a great time to advance in the art of photography. But just…be careful and be mindful of the temperature so that you can continue practicing your photography through the autumn and winter months.

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another Friday brings us to the end of another eventful week in the world of photography. There have been a lot of stories out there for photojournalists to cover — ranging from last Friday’s airplane crash in California to the continuing riots in Egypt, a train derailing in Montreal, and many other stories. In addition to these photojournals and essays, photographers have been out in force giving reviews on gear, gadgets, and advice on techniques for those who are just getting started in their photography epic. All of these stories and more were covered in our Twitter feed over the week. However, if you are not following us on Twitter, then we’ll replay 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


Robotic Photography and Tennis

Robotic Photography and Tennis

Digital Photography Review has a really interesting article up about how Nikon and Mark Roberts Motion Control helped to engineer a new way for images of the fast-paced Wimbledon games to be captured. Instead of relying on the normal “from the sidelines” positions, this team worked together to build a series of rigs for the camera with two lenses: a 200-400mm and 80-400mm. The rig was then placed on the ceiling of the court, allowing top-down images for the first time. The robot rig and cameras could also track the players’ movement and could capture the same action from different angles.

Nikon is especially keen to experiment with similar techniques in the future. Imagine soccer games where the referees could pull up a photo to see if a foul was committed. Or baseball games where the action down the baselines could be obtained without the photographer getting too close and becoming part of the action he’s trying to capture. Football already makes use of many different cameras from many different angles in order to both broadcast the game as well as provide the teams and the coaches with material they can use to refine their playbooks.

Head over to DPReview.com and read up on the details of this endeavor from Nikon!

Photo by Bob Martin