Archive for October 2013

Seattle Central Library

The holiday destinations I dream about - and those we eventually travel to - are usually natural wonders of some kind. However, the more I become a "city photographer" the more I also fancy buildings along our travel route as photography subjects. This past summer we traveled through several National Parks and coastal regions of the northwestern USA. Already long before our trip I had identified a handful of man-made landmarks that I was curious to photograph a little more creatively than just with a quick snap while passing by. At the top of my short list was the Seattle Central Library building, which was designed by Rem Koolhaas. What a fantastic building! Its most recognized by its particular shape and glass facade, but I found the inside even more interesting. Since it is a public library everybody can enter and even photograph the interior, which is not possible in many other "cool" buildings. I spent about an hour trying to find unexpected views, reflections and viewpoints inside the Seattle Central Library. The four photographs below are the compositions I am most satisfied with.

I thank you for your visit and hope you enjoy!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Triangles near the fifth avenue entrance on level 3.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug The red floor on level 4 offers glimpses of the glass front.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug In the "living room" on level 3.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug An interior facade from the highest public viewpoint in the Seattle Central Library (on level 10).

2013/10/31 by Florian Freimoser
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Carcolors 34: A deliberate bump

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Today's carcolor composition is a close-up view. Bumps and convolutions of car bodies distort reflections in fascinating and unexpected ways. The particular detail shown above is the bump that (I assume) hides the articulation of the back door of this particular type of car. The yellowish-orange pattern is the reflection of a building, the dark bottom is the rear window, and the tiny blue spot is the reflection of the sky.
I thank you for visiting and hope you enjoy! If you are interested, more carcolor examples are found in my carcolors gallery or in earlier carcolor posts.

2013/10/24 by Florian Freimoser
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Nearby: EAWAG 2

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As in the last nearby blog post, I am showing you a view of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG). The Forum Chriesbach building resembles the PWC building shown in earlier posts. The mobile glass panes of this building are blue instead of grey, but the perforated imprint on these panes also creates a fascinating moiré pattern (as shown here on the PWC building). The photograph is part of the facades gallery.

2013/10/20 by Florian Freimoser
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Tilt-shift: Tree silhouette panorama

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The shift-panorama shown above has been taken in Yosemite National Park, close to Olmsted Point. Five photographs were taken with an old, manual 90 mm lens (in total 15 mm shift in both directions) and combined to form this tree silhouette panorama. I have stopped publishing photographs from my tree silhouette series earlier this year because it is a theme I am rather pursuing during winter time, but the summer photograph above fits the theme very well.

Unless I have something important to say about tilt-shift photography, I will stop publishing blog posts under the tilt-shift label. My tilt-shift adapter is a tool that I regularly and often use to photograph subjects and topics that I care about. I much rather show my photographs in this context than have them reduced to technicalities. If you have a question about the Mirex tilt-shift adapter for micro-four thirds cameras, please have a look at the previous blog posts, or contact me if you have any unanswered questions.

2013/10/18 by Florian Freimoser
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The fairy tale of the egg laying wooly milk pig

An egg laying wooly milk pig is the german equivalent of a jack of all trades device. It is the fabulous creature that does everything as perfectly as anyone could ever wish. But, as I am sure (almost) everybody knows, such mythical creatures do not exist. Only Camera and Lens Review (do you remember them?) do not seem to be aware of this important little fact. Camera Review thinks that the jack of all trades device does exist and for example criticizes cows that fail to lay eggs or give bad wool. Even more disadvantageous is the blind loyalty to Camera Review by the majority of customers. Why on earth do people care about eggs if all they want is a glass of milk?

Unfortunately, the farming industry has submitted to the dictatorship of Camera Review by and large and really tries to create the impossible. Of course, all they come up with are unsatisfactory compromises whose eggs are ridiculous in comparison to a proper chicken (or even duck) egg, whose wool is only a shabby imitation of a sheep's product, or whose milk not even remotely resembles the richness of real milk. But a tiny egg, a shabby fur or watery milk is better than nothing and prevents criticism for a major omission, which seems to be the most feared form of critique of all. We may actually already have the milk cow that lays perfect eggs, but we do not realize it because Camera Review thinks it should definitely also have a sheepskin and provide us with a juicy ham.

I am of course not writing about genetically modified livestock, but about cameras. A camera with more functions is not automatically a better camera. Take an inbuilt flash as an example. If a manufacturer omits this useless feature, the camera will be criticized for this lack, receive less points in questionable camera comparisons, and be less sold (I assume this is the reasoning of camera manufacturers). Of course, if a flash is included it will be criticized for being weak, small, of short reach, at the wrong location etc. For most people it would be much better if their camera did not have a flash included, not only to prevent flashing while they photograph the Golden Gate Bridge from 300 m afar during daytime, but also because their cameras would have less buttons, simpler operation, longer battery life and a smaller housing. There are many other camera functions that are included for the very same reasons - only to provide as little contact surface for Camera Review as possible, not because they are really needed. I would really wish there were more manufacturers that design cameras with more courage to omit (unneeded) features! Omitting a function may be a quality, not a lack!

P.S. Before publishing this text, but after I had started writing it, a wooly pig and an egg laying cow were announced: The Sony A7 and A7r. Note: Neither of the two cameras has an inbuilt flash!

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A light & shadow composition on a facade in Hong Kong - also taken with a tiny point-and-shoot camera.

2013/10/16 by Florian Freimoser
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October 2013 print: Crab shell lips

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugCrab shell lips, Washington, USA. This holiday photograph was taken during our holiday this summer, shown in a recent blog post, and already printed this month. Usually, I let more time pass until I decide to print a photograph, but I quite like this composition and think it is an original view of a crab shell. Therefore, I really wanted to see it as a print. If you want to suggest a photograph for the November print (and obtain it for free), please contact me.

2013/10/14 by Florian Freimoser
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Tilt-shift moderation: Depth of field

A reader has the following photographic problem:
He would like to increase the depth of field when photographing, for example, spiders. He was wondering if the Mirex tilt-shift adapter may help solve this problem. It should also be noted that he photographs with a full-frame Nikon digital SLR, a 200 mm macro lens and has plenty of other Nikon lenses.

Although this is not necessarily a purchasing problem, I think the problem may be interesting for other readers and my reply is nevertheless an appeal for moderation. Here are some thoughts and opinions in relation to the spider photograph problem:

How to maximize depth of field in macro photographs
If it is the goal to maximize depth of field in a macro photograph, I would recommend to align the camera sensor parallel to the subject that should appear sharp (e.g., parallel to the spider net). Besides this, the depth of field can, for example, be increased by using a lens with a shorter focal length and by photographing with a smaller aperture. However, by doing so, the background of your macro photographs will likely become very irregular and uneven, which I find really annoying and distractive.

Tilt-shift and depth of field
It is correct that tilting the lens can be used to increase the (apparent) depth of field. The "normal" situation for this application is a landscape photograph where everything from the foreground all the way to the background should be rendered sharp. Tilting the lens downward tilts the focal plane so that it becomes (more) parallel to the landscape and therefore the depth of field appears larger. However, as far as I understand, tilting a lens achieves this effect by moving the focal plane, not by increasing the width of the area that appears sharp.

Tilt-shift and macro photography
As far as I understand, many people use tilt movements in macro photography not to maximize depth of field, but rather to be able to photograph with an open aperture, to dissolve the background and to place the (shallow) focal plane as desired. At least this is how I use the tilt-shift adapter for macro photography.

Tilt-shift adapter for full-frame Nikon DSLRs
The tilt-shift adapter that I have described and use is designed for the micro-four thirds mount (it could possibly be used on Sony NEX cameras via an adapter) and Canon EF lenses (Nikon lenses could be mounted via an adapter). In order to allow the tilt and shift movements, the lens must cover a larger image than the size of the camera sensor. A tilt-shift adapter for a Nikon (or another full-frame DSLR) must thus have a mount for medium or large format lenses. The best Nikon tilt-shift solutions (although expensive) are the excellent Nikon tilt-shift lenses. However, these will likely not solve the spider photograph problem, because in my opinion tilting is not necessary in this case.

I am afraid that I do not have a real solution for the spider photograph problem described above. I would definitely not recommend buying another camera in order to use the Mirex tilt-shift adapter, because I do not think that this would solve the problem. If I was challenged to photograph spiders in their nets I would most likely try with a 100 mm macro lens (in full frame terms) because I think this provides the best compromise between working distance, nice rendering of the background and sharpness (and because this is what I have/had and am experienced with). Approaching the spiders will be more difficult than with a 200 mm macro lens, but I would try to overcome this by photographing as early in the morning as possible, when the spiders are likely slower. There are people who photograph lions with wide angle lenses, so with patience and perseverance it should be possible to capture spiders with a 100 mm lens!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Small digital sensors also lead to a larger depth of field. These hornets were photographed with a tiny point-and-shoot camera.

2013/10/10 by Florian Freimoser
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Nearby: EAWAG 1

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The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, abbreviated EAWAG, comprises several locations in Switzerland. Close to Zurich, whithin biking distance of my home, lies the EAWAG station in Dübendorf. The building called Forum Chriesbach is an exemplar for energy efficient design and a photography subjects that I have visited several times already. The blue glass panes that follow the movement of the sun resemble the PWC building, but the color, surrounding and overall architecture of the two buildings are rather different. This nearby composition is part of my man-made  reflections gallery

2013/10/09 by Florian Freimoser
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A nearby composite sunset photograph

Sunset in Zurich, SwitzerlandWinter sunset in Zurich-Oerlikon, Switzerland.

The photograph above is a good example for two important topics that I would like to highlight with my blog. The impressive sunset is an example of a nearby photograph that was taken whithin short walking distance of our home in Zurich Oerlikon. I think this was the most impressive sunset that I have ever witnessed in Zurich. In addition, the photograph is an example for my belief that with little or simple equipment impressive results are possible. The sunset composition was taken with a small point-and-shoot camera (the fantastic Sony DSC T3, which does not exist anymore). Nevertheless, the digital file is huge (over 24 million pixels) because it is a composite of seven individual photographs (about 5 million pixels each) that were taken handheld and stitched together

2013/10/06 by Florian Freimoser
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My monthly (free) print project

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAutumnal blueberry field and fir tree, Maine, USA. I have printed this photograph in September as the starting signal for my monthly print project. From now on, I try to print at least one photograph every month. If you want, you can suggest which one and even receive a free print in exchange! I found the photograph above very difficult to print. I have tried many times and even sent it to a commercial print service, but I am quite satisfied with this latest version (of course, it looks different on paper).

Photographs are taken to be looked at. As a teenager I was using slide film and always waited for a sale to have a couple of posters made. However, having prints made was often disappointing and the result not quite as I envisioned. In contrast, printing myself gives me almost complete control over the final result. I have started to print scanned slides even before I had a digital camera and now my printing interest has reawakened and strengthened. 

In order to print more regularly, I have decided to print at least one photograph per month (in highly limited series). If I manage to stick to this plan, I will create at least 12 prints per year - a good minimal number, I think. I have already created my September print (the autumnal blueberry field shown above) and chosen the photograph to be printed in October. However, if you want, YOU can choose the future monthly prints and receive a copy free of charge!

The rules for obtaining a free print (unmatted, unframed) are very simple. As soon as a new month starts, you are invited to ask for any photograph that you find on Florian's Photos to be printed the next month. If you are the first person to ask for a print in any month, the photograph you have chosen will be printed the next month and you will receive a free print. You may only choose photographs that have not been printed yet (all printed photographs will appear on a separate page) and each month only one photograph can be chosen and received free of charge (I may choose and print additional ones). Also please note that I will only send one free print to a particular person/address ever.

I look forward to my printing endeavor and to fulfilling some of your print request, if you should have one. To ask for a print, please use the contact form on Florian's Photos or the reply section of this blog post.

2013/10/01 by Florian Freimoser
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