Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Racist American Museum of Natural History, part 2

The Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda is the first thing you see if you walk up the big steps through the main entrance (past the security guard checking your bag who was never there before 2001).

This big room is like a huge love-fest for the racist white-supremacist Teddy Roosevelt. The only way to cleanse it is to take down all of the Teddy Roosevelt quotations and murals, and rename it the Barrack Obama Rotunda.

* * *

The white-supremacists would be much better off carrying around pictures of Teddy Roosevelt than Adolf Hitler. Teddy is still loved, by many, as a great American president. Although I suppose that would quickly change if white supremacists adopted him as their mascot. But still better to have a former U.S. president as a mascot than a totalitarian ruler of Germany who started World War II and killed millions of Jews.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 20, 2017 at EST am

Posted in Art, Photography

Prep attire in Southampton


Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 29, 2015 at EST pm

Posted in Photography

Williamsburg flea market

Williamsburg Flea

There was a request for photos. Here’s one.

In 2009 I was looking at condos in this neighborhood. Big mistake not following through on that. I would have had substantial price appreciation, and had a nicer place to live for the previous six years.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 14, 2015 at EST pm

Posted in Photography

iPhone 6 camera review

Photos lack fine detail because of heavy noise reduction. Very poor dynamic range causes the sky to be white. If you put the camera into HDR mode, this helps the sky problem quite a bit, but then I see a lot of weird artifacts in the HDR photo. And the photo I took this afternoon has lots of purple fringing and a weird color balance.

I’m not impressed. Definitely not a replacement for my Olympus E-P5.

In fact, I think the iPhone 5 has better image quality. The iPhone 6 is a step backwards.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 6, 2015 at EST pm

Posted in Photography, Technology

A camera especially for women

You have to love the 1950s-style advertising at the Olympus UK site.

“A shopping tour in Paris or Milan is my favourite treat. I just love it. I’m addicted to elegant clothes, gold and high quality accessories as they show off my feminine side. That is just what I had in mind when I bought my PEN E-PL7. It suits my chic style. The camera’s slim silhouette, white glossy body and lovely hand grip complete my elegant look. It becomes the centre of attraction whenever I wear it”

“When I go out, my look has to be perfect – in an elegant style all my own. The PEN E-PL7 is made of premium metal enhanced with a leather-look finish that underlines my personal sophistication. The camera fits perfectly in my handbag even with all my other treasured accessories, thanks to its slim design. Every detail – the attractive grip, the placement of the dials – keeps me looking fabulous.”

“I never know who I might meet while shopping or enjoying the best seat in a café so I make sure I’m always prepared with my PEN E-PL7. It lets me take great selfies and is a cinch to use – take the LCD, which folds down and makes sure my hands don’t get in the way of the shot. A whole host of other bits and pieces mean my pictures come out crisp and beautiful.”

I love how Olympus stereotypes women as primarily interested in being the “centre of attraction,” “looking fabulous,” “shopping,” and having the “best seat in a café.” And being disinterested in any technical features of the camera such as its high-ISO ability or the ability to assign custom modes to the mode dial.

I predict that Olympus will get a lot of flak for this promotion and will take down the web page pretty soon. The politically correct way to market to women is to not be so obvious that you are marketing to them.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 28, 2014 at EST pm

Posted in Photography, Technology

Photo of Hylan Boulevard


There was recently a request to show some photos of seldom-seen prole areas of New York City. This is a view of Hylan Boulevard, a major north-south thoroughfare on Staten Island. Normally there’s a lot more traffic.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 17, 2014 at EST pm

NPR says that photography is racist

According to NPR, photography is racist.

When Syreeta McFadden was a child, she dreaded taking pictures after a family photo made her skin appear dulled and darkened.

“In some pictures, I am a mud brown, in others I’m a blue black. Some of the pictures were taken within moments of one another,” she , digging into an “inherited bias” in photography against dark skin.

No wonder why blacks do so poorly on the SAT. The racism of Kodak and other big corporations must have lowered their self-esteem and prevent them from correctly answering math and reading questions.

A lot of [the design of film and motion technology] was conceived with the idea of the best representation of white people.

Some of you are wondering whether or not this matters? The author of the article says it does:

I think it matters because we’re talking about a saturation of images of darker skinned people that somehow we’ve accepted in our popular culture that kind of diminishes our humanity, and we’re in an era where we’re seeing a wider representation of black and brown life, particularly in American life.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

April 17, 2014 at EST am

Posted in Photography

How to get paid $15,000 to self-actualize

There’s an article in Forbes about how some broke hipster-type from Brooklyn made a $15,000 one-day haul when he pleaded on Instagram for followers to buy 4 x 6” prints of his photos for $150 each.

And the hipster-photographer in question does only street photography. That’s something I sort of gave up on because I got a lot of flak about how the genre is akin to voyeurism and violates the rights of the unknowingly photographed (although, theoretically, it doesn’t violate anyone’s legal rights). And I didn’t think there could be any profit in it.

Of course $15,000 isn’t a large amount of money. Not in New York where a decent apartment costs more than a million dollars. But to someone who makes minimum wage toiling away at a crappy job like cooking food at McDonalds are cleaning toilets, getting a whole year’s worth of 40-hour-per-week salary for just selling a few photos probably seems like a really great deal.

Even more importantly, this story demonstrates that even the minor fame of having 20,000 online followers can translate into real money and probably a middle-class income if that guy can repeat his sales haul about three times a year. 20,000 is a relatively small number of people considering that there are 7 billion people living in the world, meaning that only one person in 350,000 follows his Instagram feed. Although his number of followers have doubled since the Forbes article was written, which demonstrates how fame generates its own publicity which in turn generates more fame.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 14, 2014 at EST pm

Monitors: 16:9 is the new 4:3

Remember when all computer monitors had a 4:3 aspect ratio? I was always an early adopter when it came to computer monitors. I bought a 1280 x 1024 LCD monitor in 2001, and a 1600 x 1200 monitor in 2006.

But today, you can’t even find a 1600 x 1200 monitor anymore. The most common monitor resolution today is 1920 x 1080, exactly identical to the resolution of 1080p televisions. The 16:10 aspect ratio is also disappearing fast. There used to be a lot of 1920 x 1200 monitors, but now they too have become uncommon and are a lot more expensive than 1920 x 1080 monitors for only a little extra horizontal space. It doesn’t make sense to buy 1920 x 1200, because for only a little more you can buy 2560 x 1440 which are now selling for less than $600 for name brands like Samsung and Dell. But if you want to step up from 2560 x 1440 to 2560 x 1600 you’re looking at spending twice as much money, which doesn’t seem worth it for only a few more pixels.

When 4K monitors become affordable and supported by most video cards (perhaps another year), I strongly suspect that the aspect ratio situation will be the same. 3840 x 2160 will be the affordable resolution, and if you want to step up to a 16:10 aspect ratio of 3840 x 2400, it will be significantly more expensive for only a few extra pixels.

Nearly all windows laptops, including laptops from Dell and Asus, have 16:9 screens. Only Apple is the holdout here, providing you with a much more practical 16:10 screen in their MacBooks. (Practical, that is, for doing computer stuff. 16:9 is more practical for watching Netflix on your laptop).

No doubt, the aspect ratio for computer monitors is being influenced by the aspect ratio for televisions. When televisions were 4:3, so were computer monitors. But when all televisions became 16:9, computer monitors started falling in line behind that.

I agree with the masses that 16:9 is a better ratio for watching video. But does it make sense as a computer monitor? More than a year ago I bought a 16:9 2560 x 1440 monitor, and I am still freaked out by how wide the thing is. A lot of stuff just looks awkward at 16:9 on a 27” monitor. Most websites look bad if you maximize the web browser. Even Microsoft Word can be awkward if you’re not used to seeing two pages side-by-side. (On the other hand, this size monitor is great for Excel spreadsheets.)

Another problem I have with the monitor, but one that has nothing to do with the aspect ratio, is backlight bleed, or in other words, the bottom corners, especially the bottom right corner, has noticeable ghosting when there is something dark on the screen and the room is dimly lit (which is how my room usually is after dark). This is not noticeable when surfing the web or editing Word documents, but it’s annoying as hell when watching a movie in full screen. This seems to be a pretty common complaint about LED edgelit monitors, which have become the norm. The LEDs have to be aligned perfectly otherwise you get backlight bleed. The older monitors that used fluorescent lighting may have been thicker, heavier, and used more electricity, but they never had this problem. Here is a case in which newer technology is inferior to the older technology. At least that’s my opinion.

16:9 and Photography

Traditionally, people thought that the best way to view photos were to make prints from them. This was true even for several years after cameras went digital. But today, the best way to view photos is on an LCD screen. You’d have to make an impractically large print to equal the quality of viewing a photo on my 2560 x 1440 monitor (except for the damn backlight bleeding in the corners). Today nearly every house has a big-screen 16:9 television, and in the not-too-distant future (maybe only three or four years), those 1080p televisions will become 4K television. Viewing a photo on a big 4K screen will blow away viewing a print, and that will be the end of photographic prints.

It seems to in order to be ready for the future, one should shoot photos so that they will look good on 4K monitors. This means framing your composition for 16:9 and using cameras that have enough resolution so that they will truly rock when viewed on a 4K screen. You will need a sharp lens at a high megapixel count. I think that my 16MP Micro-Four-Thirds cameras are barely competent to rock 4K.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 13, 2014 at EST pm

Review of Ricoh GR


The Ricoh GR is the lightest camera in the history of digital photography that has an APS-C-sized sensor. Ricoh has boldly gone against the zeitgeist of camera review sites which praise cameras when they feel extra heavy (with adjectives such as “solidly built” and “not plasticky”).

Let’s compare the weight of the Ricoh GR to other similar cameras, all of which have the same-size or smaller sensor:

Ricoh GR: 8.64 oz
Sony RX100 II: 9.91 oz
Panasonic LX7: 10.51 oz
Nikon Coolpix A: 10.55 oz
Fuji X100s: 15.70 oz
Olympus E-PM2 (body only, no lens): 9.49 oz
Olympus E-P5 (body only, no lens): 14.82 oz

One especially wonders what’s in the Olympus E-P5 that makes it weigh so much when it has a smaller sensor than the Ricoh GR and no lens. Olympus must have added an unnecessary chunk of solid steel so that camera reviewers could praise the “build quality.” If you add even the lightest pancake lens to the E-P5, it weighs in at well over a pound. And then there’s the fact that the m43 pancake lenses suck compared to the hyper-sharp Ricoh GR lens.

The design of the GR is strictly utilitarian. It looks like something that might have come out of Soviet-era Russia or communist China. It’s a simple black brick, with no adornments of any sort except for the words “GR” stamped on the front, and a grip which only adds to the camera’s ugliness. The lack of design makes the GR appear chunkier than the Olympus E-PM2, even though the E-PM2 (wihout a lens) is very close to the same size as the GR. The Olympus appears more svelte because of the curves and the metal-colored accents.

But that’s the real inner beauty of the GR. It doesn’t draw attention to itself in any way. It looks like nothing more than a cheap and somewhat over-sized point-and-shoot camera. If people see you using it, they will probably think you were too cheap to buy a “better” brand like Canon or Sony. Only a fellow camera enthusiast will recognize that you’re using an elite camera.

The Ricoh GR comes with a 28mm-equivalent f/2.8 prime lens. Several years ago, I would never have imagined paying $800 for a camera limited to only one focal length, and a wide-angle focal length at that. However, I now realize that there’s no artistry in longer focal lengths. Short telephoto lenses with large apertures are good for cheesy glamour shots, and anything longer than that is good only for pervert-voyeurs and the type of animal/wildlife shots that working-class people might hang on their walls. Serious intellectual photography requires wider angles. 28mm is the focal length favored by famed photographer Garry Winogrand. 28mm is true wide angle. 35mm is halfway between normal and wide angle, and 24mm is halfway between wide angle and ultra-wide angle. The only question is whether 28mm is wide enough to be serious, or if you need ultra-wide angles, in which case the Ricoh isn’t really good enough and you will have to use a much larger and heavier camera. (The 5.5 oz 9-18mm [18-36mm equivalent] lens with the Olympus E-PM2 is probably as small and light as you are going to get.)

As far as using the GR as a camera, on the plus side it offers a lot of different options for setting and returning to a precise manual focus distance, the leaf shutter is nearly silent, you can use automatic exposure compensation and still set the exact aperture and shutter speed that you want, and the camera contains dedicated controls for changing aperture (or shutter speed in shutter priority mode), exposure compensation, and ISO. Ricoh gets that in a digital world, ISO is a critical aspect of exposure, while most every other camera manufacturer seems stuck in the 1990s.

On the minus side, the auto-focus is not as fast as interchangeable lens cameras, and the auto white balance and exposure seem flaky compared to my Olympus cameras. There has been talk on the web about the Ricoh having bad colors, but I shot the same scene side-by-side with an Olympus E-PM2 and the only difference I could discern is that Olympus had the more pleasing default color balance. After adjusting the blue-yellow and green-magenta sliders in Adobe Camera Raw, the colors looked the same. In the photo above, both Olympus and Ricoh made greens which I thought were too turquoise. I used the HSL tab in Adobe Camera Raw to make the greens more yellow.

The GR is for serious photographers who shoot raw and know how to use the sliders in Adobe Camera Raw (or similar software). If you just want a point-and-shoot camera with consistent JPEG output, you are probably better off with a Sony RX100 II. (I don’t own that camera, but Sony is known for it’s good JPEGs.)

A major issue I discovered is that when you do extreme lifting of the shadows, you can see these weird colored concentric rings. There are those who might say that you shouldn’t do that much shadow-lifting, but it was an issue in at least one real-world shot I took. This means that the camera’s practical DR is a lot lower than the very high figure stated at DxOMark. But the high DR number does mean that as long as you’re not doing anything really extreme, the shadows have much lower noise than in photos taken with lesser cameras.

The GR lacks image stabilization. There are those who say that you don’t “need” image stabilization with wide angle lenses. Maybe it’s true that you don’t “need” it, but then it’s also true that you don’t need a camera either. One photo I took at 1/40 of a second was blurred because of camera shake, so when you are dealing with a very sharp lens and a very high resolution sensor, the old rule from film days about shooting at a shutter speed that’s an inverse of the 35mm-equivalent focal length is far too optimistic. I subsequently set the camera so that it has a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 in auto ISO mode (that’s a trick I can’t do on Olympus cameras, but I wish that Ricoh let you set a faster minimum shutter speed of 1/250), and now I make sure to concentrate on holding the camera steady when taking a photo, and I haven’t noticed any more blurred shots.

Finally, let’s talk about the lens. Absolutely amazing! When I first looked at the photos on my computer monitor, I couldn’t believe how sharp they were. And the sharpness extends from the center of the frame to the utmost corners. It absolutely blows away any of my Micro-Four-Thirds lenses, especially the very mediocre (at best) 14mm pancake lens. You probably have to step up to a Nikon D800 to get better image quality than you can get from this tiny lightweight camera, and I suspect that there’s no Nikon full-frame lens that will give you completely sharp corners at wide angles like you get with the GR.

After looking at photos taken with the GR, all of the photos taken with my Olympus Micro-Four-Thirds cameras now look disappointingly soft. The GR has far more resolution than one would ever need for posting photos to the internet, however affordable 4K monitors and televisions are just around the corner (that’s 3840 x 2160 8.3mp resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio), so photos taken with the Ricoh GR should look stunning on them. Are you ready for 4K?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 22, 2013 at EST pm

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