Stylish cyclists of Cardiff, my contribution to #CardiffMakeaMag

I’ve broken away early from efforts at the Cardiff School of Journalism to produce a cycling-themed magazine in a day for the Cardiff Arts Festival. You can monitor the progress of those who are still toiling away on Twitter by following the hashtag #cardiffmakeamag.

For my part, I teamed up with an aspiring magazine journalist called Lucinda who attempted to chase down cyclists who caught her eye. She would then quiz them on cycling in Cardiff while I took pictures. Typically I make great efforts to keep humans out of my pictures, so these aren’t exactly my best work. Still, it was nice to try something different.

Update: Here is the final spread as it appears in the magazine Off The Chain.

Cardiff Cycle Style

I think it looks fantastic! Well done all. See my photographs →

Long exposure photographs from the International Space Station

Talk about stunning!

ISS Star Trails, a set on Flickr from NASA_JSC_Photo

Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit relayed some information about photographic techniques used to achieve the images: “My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”

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Thing a Week

Thing a Week badge People who have followed me on Twitter or this blog for a while may be aware that back in June 2009 I started a Flickr photography group called Thing a Week. The concept is quite simple: To take a picture on a different theme every week.

Now the group is under new management and has a snazzy new website, it seemed like the perfect time for me to get all nostalgic.

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Live music: photographers’ rights in danger?

From the BBC Wales Music blog:

A photographer turns up at a venue somewhere in Britain in order to take shots of the new hot act, The Indubitable Idiots. She’s got a photo pass from The Idiots’ press company, but on arriving at the venue is presented with a piece of paper she must sign before being allowed in.

It’s in impenetrable legalese, but a quick read confirms that once the concert is over, she must hand raw and edited photos of the band to the management, that the copyright in the photos is no longer hers and that the band now own all that work. She can never use those photos ever again to make money.

Oh, and by the way, she also takes on her back all legal responsibility for future misuse of those photos.

This type of agreement, presented to legally-untrained photographers to sign at the last minute, might seem far-fetched, but it’s a phenomenon that has come to the fore in America and Britain over the past few years. It’s something that photographers are railing against, and which has seen the management of some of the world’s biggest artists actually back down in the face of complaints.

Live music: photographers’ rights in danger? – bbc.co.uk/blogs/walesmusic

A video shot on the iPhone 4S

Aside

Very cool.

Got an iPhone 4S yesterday and got up this morning to go for a surf. No surf, so thought I’d shoot some stuff to see what the new camera is like on the 4S. Got home, looked at the footage, and couldn’t believe it came out of a phone. Was so excited so thought I’d quickly cut a vid to share the goodness.

It’s actually amazing. The automatic stabilisation seems to work wonders, and gets rid of most the jello. Depth of field is flipping awesome. Colours are really good straight out the camera, but I did give this footage a slight grade.

500px and Fotomoto send out “he said, she said” emails to users

Tonight I recieved an email from 500px telling me that they will be removing their photo stores because their partner, Fotomoto ‘does not quite satisfy our high demands for quality of the user experience’. An hour later, Fotomoto sent an email of their own, countering that ’500px didn’t meet their business and technical commitments’, and it was their call to terminate the contract with 500px.

I like the 500px service, but sizing up these two emails (published below) it does seem like they may not be trustworthy. Which is a shame, as it’s a service I decided to pay for.

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The correct use of Instagram?

I have a friend, whom I won’t name, who takes the most amazing Instagram photos. They’re stunning, every bit as good as anything shot with a DSLR. And that’s because they are shot with a DSLR. Which sucks.

[...]

There are a lot of places to showcase great photography online. Flickr, Picassa, Smugmug. I fully expect to see lots of awesome, highly processed shots of Fireworks on those sites on July 5 and July 6 and, Hell, even July 10. But on Instagram if I’m seeing fireworks shots a day or two later it’s a little jarring. Moreover, if everyone starts using it the way my friend does, it’s going to kill it. Instead of a window, it will become an archive.

And to be clear, this has nothing to do with the gamification features on Instagram. Sure, everybody loves to get their own little hearts and stars. But who cares how many likes somebody else’s stuff gets? Ultimately, it’s not about that.

(via Cut It Out Instagram Cheaters! – gizmodo.com)

I agree completely. I have followed even worse offenders, who seemed to think that Instagram was a good place to share other people’s photographs, uncredited.

My Instagram pictures were all generated on my iPhone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that my Instagram pictures are all photographs.

For me, a great Instagram picture is an interesting scene, an unusual perspective or detail of something otherwise mundane (joel_hughes does this brilliantly) or something timely (this morning, bondomatic has been posting pictures from a hot air balloon).

Though my recent Instagram pictures have been particularly dull, I won’t be tempted to spice them up with DSLR shots any time soon.

Rocking the rolling shutter

Here’s something quick and eyebrow-raising to boot this morning. A YouTube guitarist puts an iPhone 4 inside his instrument to capture some rarely seen footage of how the strings oscillate. The awesome effect is further amplified thanks to the way the iPhone 4′s shutter works, he explains in a video description: 

I just happened upon this trick when testing what it was like filming from inside my guitar. Note this effect is due to the rolling shutter, which is non-representative of how strings actually vibrate.

via Mesmerizing video shows how the iPhone 4 camera shutter works – 9to5mac.com

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Cardiff Arcades Project

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These wonderful pictures are from the new Cardiff Arcades Project by Amy Davies. I particularly love the wide-angle architectural shots.

The blog has also inadvertently kicked off a bit of an investigation into the claims that John Lewis is enjoying a 20-year rent free grace period. According to Amy, their PR representatives have denied this and are issuing a press release tomorrow. If there’s any truth to the rumour at all, it will be big news.

Casio Tryx / Fujifilm FinePix X100

This is a novel form factor for a point-and-shoot. If anyone gets serious about making an open source camera, they should definitely try something inventive like this.

The design of the “variable frame” allows it to act as a sort of tripod, giving you steadier shots for video or low-light exposure and giving you one less thing to carry. Another odd feature is that the lens is not a zoom, but instead a fixed wide-angle.

(via Casio goes innovative with Tryx camera desig – core77.com)

I’m not really sure the benefits are worth the hassle though. The thing is almost like a puzzle!

Engaget has some specs.

The 12.1 megapixel shooter sports what the company’s calling Exilim Engine HS, which equates to 1080p 30 frames per second video, up to 240fps (at 432 x 320 resolution) slow-motion, and various HDR and panorama options. there’s also a 3-inch touchscreen LCD, but the biggest draw here is the swiveling enclosure that serves as a stand for setting up just the right shot. We got an early glimpse at a non-functional prototype, and the size is definitely interesting — we still need to see it in action, though. Price is a penny shy of $250 and shipping date’s April 2011.

(via Casio’s Tryx pocket camera takes a stand (literally) alongside new Exilim lineup – engadget.com)
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Magic Lantern: Firmware for Canon DSLR filmmakers

Magic Lantern is an open platform for developing enhancements to the amazing Canon 5D Mark II and 550D/T2i digital SLRs. These cameras are “game changing” for independent film makers:

  • It allows the use of a wide range of lenses (anything that can be adapted to the EF mount).
  • The 5D’s 35mm full-frame sensor is larger than the RED ONE’s sensor, Super 35 film. It is approximately the size of VistaVision. This means shallower native depth-of-field than anything on the market, except for the Phantom 65.
  • The dynamic range and latitude are close to the capabilities of high-end HD cameras.
  • The low-light performance is currently unrivaled, even by the RED ONE.

But, the software in video mode has limitations, even after the recent 1.1.0 upgrade from Canon that fixed the most glaring manual exposure “bug”.

That’s where Magic Lantern comes in — it turns your 5D Mark II into a 5D Mark Free. We’ve written extensions and widgets that fix many of the annoyances in working with the 5D Mark II on a film or video set. Our first set of fixes are targeted at the audio limitations of the camera, but there are some video enhancements included, too:

  • On-screen audio meters
  • Manual gain control with no AGC
  • Zebra stripes (video peaking)
  • Custom Cropmarks for 16:9, 2.35:1, 4:3 and any other format
  • Control of focus and bracketing

(via magiclantern.wikia.com)

How cool is this! Though the (slightly cringeworthy) video above talks specifically about the 5D, there is also firmware for the 550D I use, which could open up a world of possibilities.

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