photofriday: yellow

This week’s photofriday challenge is yellow. Let’s see what flickr comes up with when I search yellow.

Hahaha, I get 2014 yellowstone set, duh. Plus all the pics tagged with yellowstone. The rest are pretty.

Yellow duckie and pikachu from the yellow umbrella movement:
oclp257duckpokemon

Yellow pattypan squash from the farmer’s market:
pattysquash

Mechanics from a tractor spotted at the crazy horse monument:
sd216engine

Yellow lorries, the most impressive because the only description is “little india” so presumably from singapore:
07truck

And yellow flowers:
lv047bellagio

stock photo fail

handmixersfail

Recently I saw someone post an image that still had the stock photo watermark. I’m not sure if it’s a draft or part of the design so I didn’t mention it.

Not so for pictures used in packing boxes of these hand mixers spotted in Poland. They took shutterstock images, presumably off google images, and…didn’t do anything about the watermark. As petapixel said, it seems that

no one noticed (or cared).

natgeo planet or plastic

natgeo201806

The June edition of National Geographic magazine launches their Planet or Plastic initivative:

aimed at raising awareness of the global plastic crisis and reducing the amount of single- use plastic that is polluting our world’s oceans.

The amount of waste plastic floating in the earth’s oceans is horrendous, and the effects on wildlife so devastating. The cover image of the magazine was created by Jorge Gamboa and won first place at Bienal del Cartel Bolivia 2017. I think usually NatGeo uses their own photographers and their own photos so the use of what amounts to a stock photo is unusual. As petapixel pointed out

considering the topic, this cover could hardly be executed more effectively.

a camera lens’ two year journey

leicasafariedition

Imagine going on holiday to the US, visitng a national park, and finding a Leica lens sitting on a rock in the middle of the desert.

That’s what happened to Jorgen Loe Kvalberg from Norway. To his credit, he took the lens home and contacted Leica Norway about the find. Leica Norway contacted Leica HQ in Germany. From the serial number, they traced it to Leica USA and Samy’s Camera store in LA. The store manager checked records and found that the lens had been sold as part of a kit to someone named Arthur Galvao.

It turned out that Galvao had lost the lens in the national park two years earlier. One of the Samy’s Camera store rep was going to Germany for holiday, so he picked it up from Leica Germany and returned the lens to its owner in person.

So when we’re talking about a camera lens and it being sold as part of a kit, it’s not the bog standard 18-55mm that comes with an entry level Canon, we’re talking about a US$3,500 Leica lens that came with a $9,990 Leica M-P with 35mm f/2 Safari Edition camera.

All credit to Kvalberg, all the folks at Leica around the world, and the camera shop in California. What’s amazing is that the lens was still in perfect, if dusty, condition after sitting out in the desert for 2 years. I guess if it’d been sitting in damp conditions, it would have broken down after that time.

I also think it got found and safely returned to its owner because it’s a Leica lens. Not many people will bother checking for the owner of a 18-55mm Canon kit lens. If I found a Leica lens, I’ll know it’s valuable and will try to return it to an official office.

via petapixel

nyc parks 1978

nycparks1978

Six months ago, a park official in NYC cleaning out an office found 2 cardboard boxes that had been sitting around for decades. The boxes contained almost 3000 slides of NYC parks taken in 1978 by NYT staff photographers.

The pictures will be shown at an exhibition at the NYC Parks Arsenal Gallery in May/June. A lot of nostalgia. Kids playing, people enjoying the parks, the 70s fashion. Not a smartphone in sight.

There are comments in the mefi thread from someone hoping for a similar discovery in Chicago. Can I add my wish for London? That was the year we moved to London. It’s 40 years ago, that’s scary.

smugmug buys flickr

smugmugflickr

Big news, smugmug buys flickr. Got the notification:

SmugMug has acquired Flickr.
If you use our products today, rest easy, they aren’t going anywhere.
The future is bright, but we’ll only get there together.
Let’s do this.

I don’t know whether to be glad, relieved or afraid. I’m hoping for the best, because under yahoo, it couldn’t have gotten worse. What used to be one of the best photography websites was completely and utterly rundown by a monster corporation. Many people are surprised flickr is still around.

I’ve heard of smugmug, they seem to be doing well in their niche market of providing storage and sharing facilities for professional photographers. An independent business, they’ve never taken on outside investment nor have they shown any interest in buyout offers. CEO Don MacAskill seems to understand, and has stated that he is a longtime fan of flickr:

Flickr is an amazing community, full of some of the world’s most passionate photographers. It’s a fantastic product and a beloved brand, supplying tens of billions of photos to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

There can be overlap. Smugmug’s core users are enthusiasts and professionals, flickr has professionals but are mainly for enthusiasts and casual users. This is a way for smugmug to expand its business.

There are a massive number of loyal flickr users. If smugmug makes it great again, I’ll probably go back to paying for pro. Member since 2005 with over 33k pics.

Oh, a little tidbit. Did Stewart Butterfield consider buying flickr back:

sony world photography award

sonyphoto

Winners of the Sony World Photography Award have been announced. Professional, open, youth, students, then split by topic and by country. Amazing and many, many photos to look at. There’s an exhibition in London starting 20-April, I wish I can go.

Bored Panda has 7 pages of national winners. Like many photography competitions nowadays, some of the pictures look overprocessed. A lot of HDR look and feel. I can’t say I like all of them, but I can see why they won. If I had to choose one, my choice is this one by Ales Krivec, Slovenia national winner. The word is floating.

random flickr

I’m bored. There’s a lot that needs to be done, like packing or researching for home renovation.

Let’s play random flickr. Page 68 was end of Assisi to start of Rome. Here’s a pretty tree on the streets of Rome:
rom021street

Page 233 had pics from 3 london races: the banana race at Hyde Park, corporate challenge at Battersea Park, and the British 10k that started at Hyde Park corner, went around the city, past Parliament and ended on Whitehall. Here’s running up Westminster Bridge, nice vew of Big Ben:
uk10k022bigben

Page 274 was when I first moved to Chicago. I was still living at PT and just signed the lease for the apartment. Also did Flat Neena (like Flat Henry) for my niece. Here she was at the Bean:
neena08bean

single atom photograph

epsrcwinner01

via giz, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (“EPSRC”) just announced the winner of its annual photography prize, which goes to David Nadlinger of Oxford University for a photography of a single strontium atom. The atom was excited by a laser, absorbs the energy, re-emits the light, and was held stationary by electric fields. The process occured sufficiently quickly for an ordinary camera to capture.

epsrcwinner02

Zoom in and the atom may be seen clearly. Images © David Nadlinger.

There were over 100 entries to the competition, in 5 cutely named categories: Eureka & Discovery, Equipment & Facilities, People & Skills, Innovation, and Weird & Wonderful.

The ESPRC was formed in 1994 after the SERC was split into reserach councils responsible for engineering & physical sciences, particle physics & astronomy, and biotechnology & biological sciences. Every scientist in my university cohort who went beyond first degree knows the SERC very well.

making the hasselblad x1d

hasselblad01

One lucky reporter at The Verge visited Hasselblad’s factory in Gothenburg and got a tour of how the X1D is made. Amazing series of pictures. Top image from Hasselblad, all other images © The Verge.

hasselblad02

The building is nothing fancy, and the company is small enough to feel personal. The parts may not be all manufactured in Sweden (eg the sensors are made by Sony), but everything is assembled, calibrated and tested in Sweden. Almost all the process is done either by hand, or closely monitored by a human being if done by a machine. Dust is the enemy of all cameras, and the factory is spotlessly clean. All workers and visitors wear lab coats, hairnets and gloves if necessary.

hasselblad03

As expected, quality control is of the highest standard. Parts are tested continuously and each body comes with a signed release by the person who inspected it. Testing is treated as part of the manufacturing process rather than something that needed to be done afterwards. Here the camera is being tested on how well it reproduces the blue of the test sphere.

hasselblad04

Even though the cameras are state of the art, the manual manufacturing process means not all the tools used are hi-tech. They’re still using Windows XP and old Dell and Sony computers. Cleaning is done by hand using tiny brushes. Each one comes with certificates of quality and exhaustive paperwork.

Just for reference, the price of this camera is over US$10,000 for the body alone, and is Hasselblad’s cheapest camera. It’s the first mirrorless medium format camers available. Medium format photography is so far above my skill level that I still think of the old Mamiyas with 120mm films rather than modern digital cameras.

The X1D looks nothing like those old Mamiyas, or indeed like the first image of Hasselblad that comes to mind. It’s simply…breathtaking. It’s been described as the Ferrari of cameras. Is it for everyone? The professional photographer at petapixel correctly says no. It’s way too expensive for amateurs, and not even professionals who work with high resolution images. For professionals whose work are likely to be printed in ginormous sizes, like artists, fashion or portrait photographers, this is ideal. He’s definitely keeping his:

While I can’t say with any finality whether this camera is worth it for anyone else, I can say that you’ll do better trying to wrench a soup bone out of a pit bull’s mouth than to wrest the X1D from my firmly clenched grip.

we are not original

via petapixel

We go through flickr, or google photos, or instagram, or facebook, looking at our friends’ travel pics. Even notice they’re essentially all the same shot. Different weather, time of day, and if they are normal people who stand in front of the landmark or scenery, the difference is in the people and where they stand.

Instagrammer Oliver KMIA made a video slideshow of almost identical images of planes, people, and instantly recognisable landmarks photographed in the exact same way, calling it:

a photogenic mass tourism experience

What he’s missing is what I see a lot on my friends’ fb posts: pic of the airport gate showing where they are going, and an image of their boarding pass. (And here’s why we must NEVER EVER post pictures of boarding passes anywhere.)

To my horror, I find that I’m also guilty of some of these clichéd pics, even though I will never do the let’s-pretend-we’re-pushing-the-leaning-tower-of-pisa atrocity. Like this arashiyama bamboo forest pic, I know I took it, I can show the EXIF and prove that I was, well, in Kyoto that day. But will anyone be any wiser if I had downloaded it off google images or flickr or instagram and added it amongst all the others I took on the same trip? I doubt it. I’m conscientious about linking and acknowledging, but not everyone is. Both my friend A and I have had people link and copy our images without crediting us, but that’s not the point of this post.

As for the photogenic mass tourism experience, dpreview said

We can’t decide if the video is funny or depressing

I think it’s both and neither. It’s a sign of the times.

japan winter light festival

We’re prepping for our trip to bangkok next week. Looking back at my records, last January we went to Japan. Tokyo and Hakone for a week. Sake tasting, Fuji, onsen in the snow, Tsujiki, drugstore shopping. All fabulous.

May be one day we can make it to the winter lights festival at Nabana No Sato, a botanical theme park in Kuwana City. Looked at google maps and Kuwana is just 30mins’ drive from Nagoya. Absolutely stunning pics.

Blue mountains:
winterlights01bluemountains

Cherry blossoms:
winterlights02cherry

Sunset:
winterlights03sunset

There are other winter light festivals around Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagasaki, Sendai, Kanagawa, Tochigi, and Nagoya itself. Didn’t fully realise there are so many! Definitely trip planning time.

winter’s watch

via mefi

Star Island is located 7 miles off the coast of New Hampshire, USA. It’s 38 acres in area and owned by the Star Island Corporation, a non-profit which operates hotels on the island. The island runs on solar power and has its own water supply and septic treatment facility. During the summer, staff at the hotels live on the island. During winter, there is one single inhabitant, the winter caretaker Alexandra de Steiguer. She’s been returning to the island every winter for the past 19 years.

Winter's Watch from Brian Bolster on Vimeo.

Here’s a moody, almost mysterious short film about Ms. de Steiguer’s time as the caretaker. Although it’s a video, all the shots were taken with the camera stationary, to give a sense of space and quietness. Well worth watching.

desteiguer
© alex de steiguer

Alexandra de Steiguer is a photographer and the film captures her taking her camera around, and processing the photographs. This is “Shoals – Rock Pool No. 1” of the Isles of Shoals series. She also has a book, called Small Island, Big Picture.

On long periods of solitude:

Most of us aren’t often by ourselves for long periods with only the wild elements for company. In a way, solitude is like being restricted to one small island – yourself. You’ve walked that personal island all your life; you take it for granted that you know every part of it. But solitude forces you to stay there, to walk it again with new eyes… to come to the very edge and gaze into the unknown.

The hotels on the island are more geared towards conferences and retreats. There is no bar (although visitors and staff may bring their own alcohol), and no real resaturant aside from the hotel dining room. From a mefi commenter:

It’s super tiny, it’s rustic, it’s homey and homely, it’s very very plain, it’s not luxurious. Yet it’s an incredible, gorgeous, elemental place to visit. You can hike the tiny island in under an hour, or ramble out on the rocks to watch the gulls and surf, and be the only person you see for hours any afternoon…It’s not for everyone, but it’s pretty wonderful if it’s the kind of thing you like.

I wonder what it looks like this week, under all the snow. All the pics I found on flickr and google images are during the summer. I guess since Ms. de Steiguer is the only person there, any winter or snow pictures will have to come from her.

best of: 2017 pictures

best of: 2017

I uploaded 2,575 pics to flickr during 2017, compared with around 1,500 in 2016 and 3,500 in 2015. The ANZ cruise-to-nowhere and 2 trips to japan provided all of the worthy top 10 pics. Honestly, I think it’s the scenery and nothing to do with my skill as a photographer.

Scroll through the set using the arrows on the left and right of the image. I have:

  • a mountain–Fuji
  • a lake–the champagne pool at wai-o-tapu geothermal park
  • a garden–kenrokuen in kanazawa, one of japan’s three great gardens
  • two houses–one at suganuma near shirakawa-go and the other at hobbiton
  • a lantern–at the historic higashi chaya tea house district in kanazawa
  • a couple of sculptures–one at the hakone open air museum and the other at waiheke island outside auckland
  • wine tasting at waiheke island
  • a snap of the tugboat Hastings at the bow of our stricken cruiseship, preparing to tow us back to port

No homemade food, because it’s already a struggle trying to figure out what to cook for everyday meals, I barely experimented and probably baked just a handful times.

you don’t take a photograph; you ask quietly to borrow it

You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it — Unknown

A couple of photography related topics.

kurvdcover

First, this universal lens cap currently available on kickstarter. US$30 each, but one free if the campaign is shared on social media, making it $15 each. It’s a stretchable material that covers the entire lens and is supposed to be waterproof, dirtproof and shatterproof. It can completely cover a small lens which does give it more protection.

A generic 77m replacement lens cover is $4.99 on amazon, so does the kurvd cover justify being three times the price? I’m attracted to it being able to cover more of the lens than just the cover and the plastic material helps if the lens is dropped on a hard surface. The problem with these small accessories is they’re not too expensive and it’s easy to spend money on them.

As a distraction, here’s the most popular photo from flickr’s top 25 photos of 2017, say goodbye…” by Iwona Podlasinska. There are also various themed top photos like architecture, landscape, sports as well as top photos from countries like Canada and India.

say goodbye...

According to fastcompany, the photos were initially picked based on how often an image was viewed, shared or bookmarked but human editors had the final say. Although over 50% of photos uploaded on flickr were taken by an iPhone, all of the top 25 were taken using a conventional camera. What struck me about some of the photos that made the top 25 lists, is how artificial some of them are. Not to knock the photogrpher’s skill, but it seemed that Lightroom skills were more important than framing, lighting and composition.

random photography art

One boredpanda user told a story of how his boss took advantage of him by getting him to take promotional pictures for free. The business was a liquor store and the photographer naïvely agreed because the boss said the magic word: exposure.

terryis02
©Terryis Xmun

He took it seriously at first but soon regretted his decision to work for free so he started not caring as much.

Callous disregard for form and aesthetic took on a form and aesthetic unto itself. Items were tossed roughly into bushes, placed literally on streets…The nastier I could get, the better.

terryis01
©Terryis Xmun

The images ended up on the company’s fb page and no one questioned the insanity. His boss seemed to accept them. The beer company for this pic even liked the image. The user is puzzled as to why people seemed to like the pics. Personally, I like some of them. There’s an urban jungle randomness that a lot of commercial marketing photography tries to achieve but it’s obvious they try too hard. By not trying hard at all, he found a certain style.

Just goes to show, one person’s rubbish is another person’s art.

vending machines hokkaido

via colossal, all images ©Eiji Ohashi

hokkaidovending01

I can’t stop looking at these from Japanese photographer Eiji Ohashi, who photographed vending machines in Hokkaido at night. This combines so many of my likes: Hokkaido, vending machines, photography, stillness. There are over 5 million vending machines in Japan, selling everything from the usual drinks and snacks to toys and clothing. They’re located inside buildings, outside buildings, on roads and, in rural areas, in the middle of a field. What Ohashi-san did, was notice how the light from the machine would shine on its surroundings:

vending machines downtown or in the wilderness, placed to stand in solitude, are an image of loneliness. They work tirelessly, whether it is day or night.

hokkaidovending02

They’re especially beautiful when covered in snow. It’s almost like they stand there in defiance of whatever the elements throw at them.

This is part of a series called Time to Shine, more on his website.

coincidence photography

I had my eye on a small lightbox that folds to the size of an A4 piece of paper, but am slightly put off by some of the negative reviews. Price is good though.

Anyway, talking about photography, I saw these photos as part of a project called the coincidence project by Denis Cherim who arranged to take his photos as certain times and angles. Good use of

perspective, scale, and certainly a bit of luck

coincidence01

coincidence02
All images ©Denis Cherim

More on his website. Cherim is currently on a 3-month residency in Taiwan. He’s also on instagram.

container ship timelapse


And another video. This one by Jeff Tsang has been making the rounds. 10 minutes of unadulterated peacefulness and mesmerising goodness. Worth watching multiple times. He works on a container ship and set up his Nikon D750 and Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 lens facing the bow, then proceeded to collect over 80,000 images or 1.5TB of material which he edited into a timelapse video. 30 days of sailing in 10 minutes from the Red Sea to Sri Lanka to SIngapore to Hong Kong.

The sky and the weather looked so beautiful. I thought he was lucky but I remembered that pollution usually settles in built up areas and in the vast expanse of the oceans it’s really just the elements. And vast and expansive it was. For long periods there was nothing in the horizon but sky and water.

His captions are simple and educational too. In just a few words he described the hard work done by pilots, how long it takes to unload and load a container ship, and how traffic is organised (in lanes going in one direction in the straits around Singapore and no organisation around the South China Sea as fishing vessels are everywhere and crisscross around the ship). He made a decision to leave the camera out to continue recording while there was a storm and paid the price of water in his lens.

timelapse

My favourite bits include the enormous night sky with the Milky Way at around 0:30, lightning at around 3:20, the sky lit up by the full moon at around 6:00. And blue, blue skies.

photofriday: blur

mel286night

This week’s photofriday challenge is blur.

This bokeh-like pic was taken in Melbourne in February 2017, the first night we got safely back after being stranded in the middle of the ocean with no engines. Full moon so we took a walk on deck 7 after dinner. The camera was trying its hardest to autofocus so I clicked the shutter while it was still focusing. Then i tried to blur the image using manual focus. And played with the iphone too, it focused quicker so I had to click faster.

tsingy de bemaraha national park

We had very tentative plans to travel later in the year, but nothing fixed. May be Japan again if we only have a week; Europe if we have longer. With mm’s mum’s health situation, those plans are probably out. I may still get to travel before the end of the year, but I’m not sure.

tsingy
© Dave Stamboulis, BBC Travel

I’ve been looking at the bbc photoessay about Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar, one of the most difficult UNESCO site to reach. First, it’s in Madagascar, already one of the world’s most remote location. Secondly, the national park is in the northwestern part of the island and accessible by a dirt road that is a muddy swamp 6 months of the year. When it is relatively dry to travel, there are still 2 rivers to cross, both crocodile-infested.

Tsingy is the local language for “the place where one cannot walk” describes the sharp limestone formations in the national park. A series of suspension bridges, steel cables, pegs and ladders together with train guides allows visitors to see the spiky formations up close. UNESCO describes this world heritage site as:

impressive ‘tsingy’ peaks and a ‘forest’ of limestone needles.

I usually do quite well in those global places I’ve visited quizzes. I don’t see this often on those list challenges and it should be. I doubt I’ll ever get a chance to go but looking at the pics is enough. Spectacular.

two contests

A couple of contest winners, can’t be more different.

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

I can’t get into the natgo website, but the Atlantic has a great gallery. I’m also including the photographers’ captions.

natgopowernature
© Sergio Tapiro Velasco, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

The Power of Nature – Grand Prize and 1st Prize Nature Category. Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning rod of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, illuminating the dark scene. In last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of the night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average.

Or as kottke called it, Mount Doom.

A couple of others caught my eye.

natgoforest
© Yutaka Takafuji, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

Forest of the Fairy – Honorable mention, Nature. This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people.

I love this, dream-like and surreal.

natgotrain
© Moin Ahmed, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

The Man’s Stare – Honorable mention, People. The photo was taken on July 23rd 2016 at Tongi Railway Station in Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district stopped at the platform for 5 minutes for lifting passengers. It was raining a lot. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the window and on his left an umbrella has been put to protect from the rain. I got the moment.

This is almost like a painting.


The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

This is for the WORST opening sentence. Not in a real novel, but participants try to write the worst opening line. Kat Russo was the winner for:

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.

Pam Tallmann, in the Crime/Detective category:

As hard-boiled detective Max Baxter ate his soft-boiled egg, he thought about the gorgeous dame he’d found last night lying in a pool of her own blood—it being inconvenient to lie in a pool of someone else’s blood—and wondered how she liked her eggs.

They even have a Purple Prose category. Tyson Canale won with:

A sweaty Hector threw off his shirt, passion burning, skin glistening, his deodorant congealed to little chunks ensnared among the matted jungle of his armpits like so many crumbles of pungent blue cheese over a bed of sprouts, moistened with a dressing of perspiration, and lustily asked, “Are you as hungry as I am?” to the confused busboy.

red bull illume photography competition

The Red Bull Illume photography competition says it’s the greatest international contest for adventure and sports photography. With 5,646 photographers from 120 countries invited to submit to 10 categories and over 34,500 images received, it is certainly great.

The Atlantic covered some of the award-winning entries. I really like reading the descriptions that the photographers wrote to accompany the images too.

lorenzholder
© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

This is the amazing image by overall winner Lorenz Holder: “Senad and I were on the way to a different location early in the morning when we passed this scenic spot. We saw a sign from the street and I had some pictures in mind that I’d seen from this bridge on the internet. When we got there the sun was just above the trees and it was lighting up the full color-spectrum of the autumn leaves in a very soft way. I’d chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot. There was also no more time for another try because the wind came up and the perfect reflection on the water was gone.”

Timing is everything, but it takes a masterful photographer to spot the correct light, setting and action.

friday food fiesta

fridayfoodfiesta

There was (still is, technically) a flickr group called friday food fiesta where we post pics to a weekly topic. It was quite active, then less active and then totally inactive;. the last weekly topic was set in December 2011.

For some reason pics started getting posted there recently. I guess people are just blindly posting to groups that mention food. I don’t mind, the pics are good quality, food-related and it’s nice to see activity in a long dormant group. I don’t see even the admins active on flickr anymore, which is sad.

Ah, nostalgia and the days when being social online seemed more fun and interactive.

loremflickr

I discovered loremflickr and have been having a lot of fun with it. What is loremflickr? It’s a free random picture generator. In the same vein as lorem ipsum for text, it posts

placeholder images for every case, web or print, on almost any subject, in any size

Images are sourced from flickr that are marked creative commons and the user is acknowledged. Just enter the url including size, colour, subject. Let’s call a 500×375 pic of food, so the url is loremflickr.com/500/375/food:

loremflickrfood

How about same size, red, shoes: http://loremflickr.com/red/500/375/shoes

loremflickrredshoes

It does multiple searches too. So I may want a random pic of car or train: http://loremflickr.com/500/375/car,train/all

loremflickrcartrain

This is fun. And the best part is, I have literally no idea what will show up on this post.

flickr explore | old websites

Tim Carmody who is standing in for Jason Kottke this week has been asking interesting hive-mind questions, like best wesbsites that are gone, hidden gem websites and best things in the history of the internet. The hidden gems list is interesting by itself.

Matt Haughey, in response to the best historical internet questions, wrote about flickr explore. Flickr has been through a lot, especially since it was bought by yahoo. Most of it negative as users abandoned it for other sites that offered more instant gratification. As an image repository, it’s been overtaken by facebook. As a social app, it’s been replaced by almost everything–snapchat, instagram, facebook again. The flickr explore page isn’t perfect, there are too many landscape pics, too many macro pics, and too many overly HDR pics. But there’s at least one that is inspiring and unlike instagram, no one is trying to get me to follow them or sell me something.

flickrexplore2017

I just clicked on the page. Random pics and I daresay I find something pleasing in every single one.

p.s. he also asked about great websites that are gone and the top one is google reader. For me, it’s google reader too, but I won’t forget about harpold.com

random flickr

ork375tastingbottles

Haven’t played random flickr for a while. Sometime during 2016 I went past 30,000 on flickr and I have 302 pages on my photostream.

A random number generator gave me 170 so I navigated to page 170 of my flickr photostream. May 2012, visit to Orkney and the Highland Park distillery. Tasted 12, 15, 18, 25, 30, 40yrs and Thor; held a bottle of 50yr in my hand. The pic is of a row of tasting samples on the shelf in their tasting room. I haven’t been drinking a lot of whisky lately, should get back to a glass or two occasionally. Good times.

photofriday nature

jun133glacier

Photofriday challenge this week is Nature.

They changed the website in September, instead of linking to our own page we upload a pic to theirs. Modern thumbnail look, infinite scrolling page etc. Need to create an account there now. On the one hand I get why, because the flickr links were getting ridiculous and the whole flash display was slow AF. The cynical me thinks it’s all to do with data mining, because that’s what it takes nowadays. I’m having problems both signing in and uploading images, and it’s not worth my trouble to dig into why.

Anyway, the pic I would have submitted is of the Mendenhall glacier in Alaska, which mum and I saw when we went on our cruise a couple of years ago. It’s probably one of the most photographed glaciers, seeing that it’s quite accessible and so many people have gone to Juneau. I’m reminded of how fragile our planet is, the glacier has receded a lot in recent years and we really have to watch climate change.

accidental textures

blurrypavement

This was a complete accident. A blurry shot of the concrete pavement. Don’t even know where or when. The patterns and textures are interesting though.

taio056textures

Reminds me of this pic I purposely took while out and about with mum and greataunt a few weeks ago. It’s a few broken wooden planks against a brown tarp at the side of a house. Again, interesting patterns and textures.

Makes a change from my usual food instagrams.

cruise writeup and pics

Sorted cruise pics and wrote up the trip. Total around 200 pics: ship, Halong Bay, Sanya. The most work needed were the halong bay pics.

I try not to overdo photoshopping because it feels like cheating somehow. The pics at Halong Bay were seriously awful though. Grey, hazy, dull, just ugh. I don’t have the newfangled dehaze feature in photoshop and lightroom cc, but there’s a youtube video for everything isn’t there.

Adjust levels, add a little mid-tone blue and green in levels, unsharp mask (20%, 50px), shadow/highlight and the pics pop a bit better.

Here’s the original of a pic I took at port:
hb01

After fixing:
hb02

Contrast before and after:
hb03

Another one, the rock details really came out in this one:
hb06

Posts and sets:

fascinating north korea pics

I have a morbid fascination with North Korea. Currently it’s fairly nearby in terms of geography and a quick bit of googling tells me that there are package tours. Expensive, the 4-day tour is more than the flight+5 nights hotel package I got for Paris. Plus a) it departs Beijing and b) it’s more for foreign passport holders.

Which is why I was so fascinated at a r/pics thread of a European traveller who went to the DPK recently and came back with wonderful pics. Many were quick snaps out of range of the ever-present guides.

dpkshop

The pic that grabbed my attention to the thread, entitled Off-limits shop in North Korea. I had 15 seconds to take this picture before my guide realised I wasn’t around, which says it all really.

Road to North Korea

The first album posted, of the initial part of the journey, is a huge eye-opener. It isn’t entirely surprising, because we know about the poverty, isolation and amount of propaganda there, especially as more and more people visit. It’s just sad and shocking to the system to see how real it is. It’s worth scrolling through every pic and reading the commentary.

p.s. all pics copyright Michael Huniewicz @ m1key.me

flickr best of 2015

Top 10 flickr pics of 2015. Had a difficult time, as usual, paring down from 3,565 to 10. A mixed bag of pics this year, mostly of travelling. Some instagram included, because it’s part of culture now.

asi591damiano

I like this one of San Damiano. It’s a boring touristy pic, but it has so many good memories of our trip, and it’s a place of such importance, that I want to include it.

#25 find colour in an unusual place

parkbenchballoons2015

Task #25 of 101.1001 is one of the incomplete ones from the 2007 challenge. This was from tues, find colour in an unusual place:

any color, bright or drab that you wouldn’t normally find in place. (example, on a steel gray manhole cover a small scrap of brilliant pink colored wrapping paper)

I’m not a very observant person when I’m out and about. Mostly I want to get to my destination with the minimum interaction with the external environment. I also keep forgetting this task. Sometimes I do see possibilities, like flower petals on a concrete slope, or oddly coloured flowers we saw at the market last year.

This was on my run today. A bunch of blue and white balloons were stuck underneath a park bench. The blue and white are not colours we expect to see at a park, especially the blue which was more aquamarine. I’m thinking someone had a wedding or graduation photoshoot there and left the balloons. All the better for my challenge.

It’s also poignant. tues set this assignment in 2007, and I took this on an iphone and instagrammed it. In 2007 the iphone just came out and instagram wouldn’t appear until 2010.

4 second boomerang videos

A video posted by invisiblecompany (@mal088) on

 

Been playing around with boomerang, a new app from instagram that takes a burst of photos and stitches them into a forward and backward 4 second video. It’s quite silly but fun. There are other apps that does this; I was looking into one called phhhoto–I think I didn’t like the lack of privacy in that one.

 

A video posted by invisiblecompany (@mal088) on

 

And this one is the guitar player at the school fair over the weekend. I think there’s lots of potential for silly gif-like pics.

 

donate a photo, help a cause

 

The donate-a-photo app has been around for about 2.5 years now; I only just spotted it recently on instagram. The idea is to share a photo a day, and Johnson & Johnson will donate USD1 for every photo.

Each cause will receive a minimum donation and will appear in the app until its donation period ends or its goal is reached.

 

Sounds simple and innocent enough. Win-win all round. Right? Everything I read online about it has been generally positive. Except my first reaction was skepticism. Originally the app used the tagline selfless selfies and encouraged people to upload their selfies. That was a massive red flag. Invasion of privacy, facial recognition, profiling. It’s yet another data gathering exercise to market their products.

 

My second reaction was, what will happen to these photos? This is a good way of gathering thousands of photos that they don’t have to pay royalties for. Rule #1 of sharing a pic with a big brand is be careful. They mislead, engage in bait-and-switch tactics and generally don’t give credit or compensation. Over the years, I’ve had requests on flickr to add to a website or use in a magazine (the biggest was Travel and Leisure). I’ve found that the ones that promise “credit and exposure” without paying are the worst, they don’t even send you back the link to the story (no, T+L never sent anything back). I’ve stopped responding.

 

The donate-a-photo app does say that the photos shared will be added to a gallery to promote the app,

but they will never be used to sell any products or for any other commercial.

 

donatephoto20151121

 

What’s the harm, I thought. I’ll upload some innocuous pics and if it gets money to the right causes, it’s all good. So far I’ve added a couple of pics of trees and one of smiley pastries. I also signed up for the UK version as opposed to the US version. It’s smaller in scale, in terms of causes included—only 2 so far this week. Unlike the US charity navigator I can’t find any good UK based charity vetting services. I may switch to US so I know more about the causes offered.      

 

donateaphotoimpact2015

 

As of today, J&J claims that they have received 801k photos, which suggests they have donated $801k. Over 2.5 years it’s roughly $320k per year. Even rounded up to $500k, this is probably just a fraction of their philanthropy budget. According to this infographic, they gave $131 million in 2011, representing 1.1% of their pre-tax profits.

 

Creating an app like donate-a-photo is a smart idea. Lots of good publicity, and using the sharing economy concept to run the campaign. They already have a department that liaises with causes, just agree on an amount to donate and timeframe. Once the amount is reached or timeslot completed, move the next cause up the queue. Run a report every once in a while, send the money, update the app and website, claim the tax benefits. The general public do all the work of populating the galleries and spreading the word to their friends. And it makes everyone feel good.

 

photofriday: yellow

sf170tram 
Photofriday challenge this week is yellow.

title: tram from castro to the ferry terminal, san francisco
description: each tram is distinctive and meticulously archived; #1811 is a Peter Witts design repainted into the original 1928 Milan livery of yellow and white with black trim
date: october 2006

Click here for full-sized and other details
©invisiblecompany 2015, all rights reserved

 

 

trip pics loaded | RAW vs jpg

ptown157beach

Finally uploaded trip pics:

  • chicago — mainly marathon
  • albany — firefighters memorial
  • ptown — town, harbour, beach, cemeteries, lighthouse, whale-watching
  • scranton — cemetary, former orphanage
  • state college — penn state

 

ptown068shellshop

May be it’s because of the beautiful weather, I’m liking how most of these turned out. I do see a difference between using the big camera vs the small camera. Not bad for an entry-level 10 year old DSLR. I’m not happy with the small camera; at the back of my mind I’m still missing my s90 and not liking the newer s110. I hardly used it on the trip.

scran017leaf

May be also due to the good weather, minimum adjustments needed for the outdoor pics. Some cropping, some levels. There’s a speck of dust or a scratch inside one of the mirrors so a little cover up needed. The indoor pics, especially at the Sage Inn, had to be re-levelled, because the interior was so dark.

ptown471whale

A friend at Ptown brought along her brand new, fabulous, envy-worthy lens. She kindly let me borrow it for a second and I quickly snapped this one of the whale-watching signboard from far away. Nice. Thanks, Dutch!

We were also talking a little about over-processing of pics. I see a lot of, especially landscape and nature photography, that are rich and complex but then I realise how much the pics have been processed and I’m less impressed. I admit, processing in Lightroom is also a skill, it just seems less photography than digital manipulation.

Interesting that Reuters just issued a worldwide ban on RAW photos from their freelance photographers, to

increase both ethics and speed

I can only applaud the decision. RAW images are flexible and can be processed much more than jpgs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Seeing this comparison:

 

rawjpg
image from manners photo

who wouldn’t want to use RAW? The question then is, which is real and which is manufactured. I’m all for relatively small adjustments to exposure, level, colour—I do it all the time. But professionals who earn money taking action news photos as they happen should present the most realistic picture (pun not intended) of what is happening, hence Reuters’ emphasis on ethics.

Also fitting that in the middle of teasing me the other day, mm reminded me that I actually got paid for a photo I took when we visited whitstable. That one was literally a quick snap with none of the post-processing Lightroom stuff (well, cos I don’t shoot in RAW). Each to their own, I suppose.

lessons learnt from breaking $1600 lens

German photographer Marius Vieth described how accidentally breaking his $1600 EF 24mm lens gave him the idea for a

trippy & abstract photo set dipped in red about broken characters captured with a broken lens by a former broken soul

 

Broken: Hell's Angels

His photoset, Broken, was taken in the red light district of Amsterdam and is full of blurry, bokeh-like, atmospheric imagery. The lens doesn’t focus anymore, so it’s credit to the photographer’s skill to be able to get pictures that tell a story.

This is an interesting take on the phenomenon of autoposting blurry, poorly composed phone pics on fb without any sense of curation. Seriously, people, stop autoposting your 500 phone pics. Delete the duplicate or the poor quality ones. Upload them in proper order. Tell a story. Sigh.

 

trip pics

Finally got the trip pics sorted and uploaded: new orleans | conference

nola141house

A few of my favourite NOLA pics are of the distinctive houses. Balconies, wrought iron decorations and, in general, very big. When we walked around the garden district, we looked at estate agent windows and these houses are expensive for the US market. The majority are well kept.

nola265bookshop

Talking about the garden district, we paid a short visit to a small bookshop there. They have one shelf of books about NOLA, nice.

nola121bookshop

We also came across an old bookshop in the French quarter.

gcls191masksisters

I posted a bunch of conference pics on fb already, I guess I should let people know I have more pics on flickr. I brought the big camera with me most days, and it seemed to do a better job than the little camera. I didn’t take many pics of panels and discussions, only ones I thought were interesting. Took quite a few during karaoke with people in masks. I was too busy during the awards to take many pics with others.

gcls108dorothy

One of the pics I thought turned out very well was the one of Dorothy Allison during her keynote. I was sitting almost immediately in front of the podium and took this before moving to the back of the room to get shots of the audience.

film, digital, iphone cameras

icarexcamera02

I was cleaning my freezer and was reminded that I still have a stash of 35mm film in a ziploc bag. Film stored in a freezer can last 15 years and be defrosted and refrozen. I think mine are coming up to the 15 year mark. I don’t know if my film camera still works, or may be I should use my dad’s Zeiss camera, which is older than me. I don’t know if I have the skill to do the pictures justice though. Plus, not being able to preview and re-do, that’s pressure.

cameranowthen

I remember going on safari with mm before the days before I bought my first digital camera, and ending up with something like 30 rolls of film to be developed. Had to find a friendly shop that offered a discount. If we were to go on the same safari now, I’d still take my DSLR, but all I need to worry is having enough memory cards and backing up every day. How the landscape of photography has changed. This graphic, spotted via truthfacts / petapixel, is a perfect illustration. Well, I tend not to print pics but I do look at them. My iphone has only 200 pics because I delete ones that have been processed and uploaded to flickr. I’m probably not typical, mm has thousands of pics and screenshots on her iphone and I can say probably Sis and Mum too. My niece is more like me, her camera roll is organised, she’s the one who introduced me to tidy.


©Michal Koralewski IPPAwards 2015

Digital photography is come a long way. My iphone camera, at 8MP, has caught up to my big camera (EOS350D). One of these days, I’ll have an iphone that surpasses my small camera (s110) at 12.1MP. I used to carry my small camera in my backpack, more frequently nowadays I only have the iphone. This b/w picture by Michal Koralewski from Poland won first place at this year’s iphone photography awards aka IPPAwards. What a great picture. It’s not the camera, which is a mere tool; it’s the photographer. I have so much to learn.