#1113. Week Links of Photograpy : ethical cameras (?), Amazon video suite, drones, superblack backgrounds …

By pascaljappy | Newsletter

May 01

In this week’s issue, we explore paints and fabrics for super black backgrounds, ethical consumers diss the photo industry, drones get better every day, instant cameras play cool, Amazon picks and shovels its way into content creation, Olympus and Sigma make our hearts beat faster, I wish one video product existed for photography, and admire Alfred Hitchcock. And there’s more …

That time of year


If you’ve never watched a Philip Bloom video before, grab a glass of something nice, light up a cigar and put your feet up before you click Play. They’re worth it πŸ™‚

Drones are a fascinating case study in opposing forces. On the one hand restrictions are getting tighter everywhere in the world (and that’s a good thing, I’ve stopped counting the number of times one of those things made me miserable in what should have been a relaxing nature hike). On the other, they are getting better, and more interesting, every day.

My son is a qualified drone operator (he had to take two separate exams, and submit a 90 Page operations manual to the FAA, in spite of being an airline pilot, the UK don’t mess around, apparently πŸ˜‰ ) He doesn’t fly for pretty pictures but for crop inspections, archeological or architectural surveys and other inspection services. But the results a mid range DJI drone produces are astonishing. Side note: he recently assembled a 31-frame pano for a farm, in Lightroom, in 90 seconds on a 1 grand 13″ M1 Macbook. How the competition can cope with the new ARM chipset is beyond me. Mighty impressive.

Instant cameras to live out your nostalgic analog dreams. At the other end of the image-making vibe scale, instant cameras seem to be enjoying a healthy revival. This post lists a few contenders, but I’d add Mint cameras, who are not sponsoring me in any way πŸ˜‰ , but capture the vibe of old medium format bodies much better than the more mainstream brand. Though, I’d probably buy a film back for an actual old film medium format camera, if this was my ticket. You too? Check this video out πŸ™‚

No faces, all legal

EarthCam’s new camera shoots massive 80-gigapixel images – Here’s one of New York to explore. Shake a Sony a7r4 about, stitch and Guinness-book the resolution out of it. Do they realize Adobe’s enhance could take that to 320 Gp ? New height in uselessness!

So cool. I’ve been wanting to use something like that in a telescope design for years, but it wans’t convenient. Now, though … The other information provided by this video is confirmation that there comes a point where bokeh stops being cool and just sinks into pointless ugliness. The specs look cool, in a specs dominated world, I suppose.

OM Digital to release new camera β€œin the next few weeks” and it’ll have Olympus branding. Significant new camera or meaningless compact? No one knows. But many will be watching this with hope in their hearts and tears in their eyes.

Ethical consumer have released a ranking of camera manufacturers. Verdict? “Overall, no company was eligible for the Best Buy label, and no camera stood out clearly as an ethical option. Our best buy is a second-hand camera.” Ouch! Still, among the more recommendable brands are Sigma, Hasselblad and Olympus. Three of my faves πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Atomos Ninja V+ & Ninja Stream. The Atomos Ninja is the ONE product I’d love to see make the jump from video to photography. Imagine a big, crisp, super bright screen, with cheap and huge sotrage and the capability to record from your camera, all at a fraction of the price the cam? Now that the market has clearly missed the “mesh with smatphone” option, this is an even better option. A fabulous product, now made even more powerful.

SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG DN: the evolution of a classic. You’ve probably read about it in photo websites. Here’s another take, from a video point of view.


Interesting in the context of movies, but also in any content production endeavour. Photo exhibitions, blogs, book writing … Heck even marketplaces, ask Bezos. Agility is one answer to this question that’s not ‘depends on who you ask’ πŸ™‚

AWS Introduces Amazon Nimble Studio. Not sure whether this is technique or gear, really. But it highlights Amazon’s ultra agressive push into the market of … everything. Start with books, then try to dominate hairdressers and video editing suites, after pushing through market places, cloud storage, AI … What makes Amazon so unvulnerable is their picks and shovels approach to everything. We’re about to enter an era of unprecedented personal and group storyelling. Guess who’ll be there to make this simple and initially cheap?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Directing Artistry, Dissected. Yes, all of this applies to photography every bit as much as it does to filmmaking, even thow still can’t flow through a back alley in time πŸ™‚

As much as I love to steal ideas from the filmmaking universe and bring it into the photo world, and music is a huuuuge part of storytelling, this is one where I’ll just not mention crossing that chasm πŸ˜‰



What Matters More: Finishing Art Or Selling It? – Chris Gore. Again, an interesting question asked in the fascinating land of filmmaking, but which transposes easily to other areas of creative pursuits.

Missing London …

Share Your World Challenge reminder

Thank you to all who have already sent in your church photographs. For others who can be interested, here’s the idea again. I’m looking for contributions to this challenge in the form of photographs of churches that highlight local culture, or a story (either personal to you or to the church itself, or its community …), so that we can compare those different architectures, aesthetics and stories, throughout the world. We’ll give it another week or so and publish the results πŸ™‚ I look forward to your photographs πŸ™‚

In Aups, Provence

Well, that’s it for now. Tell me what you enjoyed and what you didn’t. Tell me what you’d like to see in this column next time. And please share with your friends πŸ™‚


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  • Pascal Ravach says:

    I always thought that when “realist” people (ah, those labels…) venture into onirism, the result can be superb. “That time of year” is exactly that to me… wonderful evocation.

    “No faces, all legal” looks to me like “No faces, just fesses”… very “French”… and still very legal πŸ˜€
    Hem… sorry to our ladies for this minute of sincere tenderness in this ocean of forced distanciation and lost ingenuity…

    As for “what you enjoyed”… all of it; these posts provide interesting reading for the week πŸ™‚

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Pascal. I find it sadly ironic that it’s OK to photograph someone’s bum, in France, but not their face. Along with political correctness and other smake-belief laws, this is a sign of a sick society that represses deep down but plays make belief protection on the surface. We’re retreating to the dark ages when people thought photos stole their soul.

      That being said, I also really like the photograph of this perfect figure young lady walking freely in Paris. It’s a fountain of youth and freedom.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Are you serious? You take a photo of a street scene, someone’s in it and their face is showing, and that’s illegal? If that’s correct, it’s crazy!

        • pascaljappy says:

          Yep. I don’t think it’s solely France that’s chosen to prefer liberty of anonymity to liberty of expression, to be honest. Add the idiotic copyright laws that prevent anyone to photograph stuff like the illuminated Eifel tower at night, and you understand why the country fares so poorly in freedom of speech and freedom of the press rankings.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Your son’s entry into the wonderful world of drones is but one example. Real estate agents all over the world are using them regularly to get more interesting views of properties that are listed for sale. Roofing contractors use them to explore a roof that needs repairs or replacement – along with stuff from a much more technical set of Google photos than the general public can access. And that’s not even scratching the surface. Ever feel faintly irrelevant?

    The drone review sparked some memories. We have a dog park nearby, and drone “pilots” bring their new toys there, to try them out. Unfortunately for some, the prevailing winds aren’ consistent, at different levels. Flying low, they’re comparatively gentle – but there’s a tipping point, past about 30 metres (100 feet), when winds pushing up over the scarp just to the west of the park roar through at twice the speed. Several unlikely novice “pilots” have lost their flying machines altogether in the draft – one had to get a rock climber to scale a massive eucalypt tree, to fish his out of the foliage at the top of the tree. Expensive hobby! (Disclaimer – I do have one – but it only flies around indoors – and that’s bad enough – numerous crashes, and then a hunt under the furniture, to find the parts that fell off. No wonder there’s an extensive training program in the UK!) I’d probably buy a DJI, except I’ve no idea which camera & lens to get with it!

    Instant cams – well not those horrible things they had way back, I hope. But pocket cameras are surprisingly popular. I no longer use mine much, but I do use the Canon PowerShot a lot – I much prefer it to a cellphone, and it’s not that much bulkier.
    In fact, I’ve bought two pocket jobs for my wife recently – an Olympus Rough, which replaces her earlier Olympus, and she adores it so much that she doesn’t want to get it wet – even though it’s rated to something absurd like 50 metres below sea level. And because of her hydrophobia, another waterproof model from Fuji – chosen because it’s bright yellow and easily spotted under water – whihch she WILL get wet. Except as the scots say – the best laid plans o’ mice & men aft times gang aglee – so today she was mucking around up at Kununurra and had to walk across a stream with the mob she’s with, and the bag with her Olympus Rough went under water, and when she fished it out, the bag containing the “Rough” was filled with water. So she had to empty the bag, and leave the “Rough” to dry off in her bedroom, when she got back to Kununurra. Why would I expect her to believe she didn’t need another camera, because the “Rough” she already had is waterproof?

    Church? That’s awkward. I spent most of my life as a devout soul, singing in several services every Sunday, going to Sunday School for years, going to a church college for my secondary schooling, still in the choir till smoking finally did for my voice when I was in my 40s, helping the priest with parish work till my 50s. And then it was all blown up. The scandals about priests preying on children threw my involvement in the church under a truck. I’ve only ever been in a church, since then, to take photographs.. And right now this minute, I don’t even feel like doing that. So I’ll have to apologise, and excuse myself.

    I have plenty of shots of churches in Europe, but that’s not what you’re asking for.

    Love the shot in Aups though. HDR might help with the detail in the highlights – multiple shots, stitched, perhaps, in a suitable HDR program. The lighting is odd – were you using artificial lighting, perhaps? – multiple flashes? Can’t see how normal church lighting could have produced those patterns of shadows.

    • pascaljappy says:

      No worries about churches. But your photographs of the French ones are more than welcome (I’ve seen a few already πŸ™‚ ) so don’t hesitate to send those over!

      About 10 years ago, we spent time in and around Kalbarri, sleeping at Murchison House station (which was then very rustic and saw us share bunk beds with the biggest instects I’ve ever seen) and we visited the nearby canyon, where my sony died on me. My wife, who loves snorkeling, had a little Oly TOUHGH and that saved the day. I can’t say the colour difelity was exceptional, but it make photographs and brought back memories that the expensive brother didn’t. I will always love those little cameras. Side note, I fell on the rock, put a big dent into the metal of the little Oly and it still worked. Brilliant.

      The church in Aups was lit, I just took the photograph. My guess is the lights were close to the floor hidden behind the pilars on either side.


      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        LOL – do you remember that photo of a bum, in George Street? – with the wrecked umbrella? Maybe we can share that with the others, too!

        The Oly Tough, like its predecessor, throws out “acceptable” images. But it takes a bit of work to fine tune them. SOOC they seem to have too much blue & green, or not enough red yellow, or something. I’m working on it.

        In 3 weeks Janie takes off again – this time for Cocos & Christmas Islands – and she has a FUJI underwater job as well, this time. She’s going snorkelling with one of them – it’ll be interesting to see what she brings back from that trip. She’s just come back from a second trip to Kununurra, and I’m a zillion miles behind, post processing them all.

  • Paul Lasky says:

    Absolutely wonderful stuff and interviews about Alfred Hitchcock and glorious work from Phillip Bloom ( although I didn’t understand a sentence of his hyper-tech pitch for the Air 2S!)

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