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Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

Widelux Panoramic Photography Compendium – Tips, links and stories

In Panography, Tools, Widelux on July 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Softball Widelux Panorama in Vermont

Recently, I’ve started working with the Widelux – which allows for ‘decisive moment’ panoramas – a specialized Japanese camera now out-of-production, after the Panon factory burnt down . The camera achieves this through a neat 26mm lens that swings across the curved film plane allowing for a 126 degree field of view (140 diagonally across the negative), roughly approximating what we see in front of us. Unlike the extreme distortion you get in ultra-wide or fisheye lenses, the widelux preserves detail evenly while giving a subtle form of distortion.  (Detailed explanation here.)

Photography has always been a way for me to share my experiences, to give a sense of the spaces out there. Panoramas offer a unique aspect ratio to engage viewers. The fact that most 35mm SLRs and DSLR cameras are in 3:2 aspect ratios has intensely affected how we frame, process, print and digest imagery. The exact reason we settled on 3:2 seems to be a point of contention – one photographer attributes this ‘golden rectangle’ sizing to Oscar Barnack, who is credited with engineering the first still-photo camera capitalizing on surplus 35mm cinema-film.  As with any new aspect ratio, I’ve found myself re-creating rules of composition and lighting to work with the widelux.

A lot of point-and-shoot cameras use the 4:3 wider ratio, which more closely matches the increasing glut of widescreen monitors and TVs. As the costs involved in creating digital sensors drop, maybe a digital panoramic camera to span across your HDTV (that isn’t insanely expensive) might become a reality.

In researching panoramic photography particularly related to the widelux,  material out there has been relatively fragmented and sparse so I’ve written this post to aggregate and showcase some of the most useful and inspiring info and imagery  I’ve found. Of course, this is far from final and any additions or corrections are welcome. More after the jump.

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‘Islands of the World’ Book Cover

In news, Showcase, Taiwan on June 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm

My photo of the Queen’s guard in London has been published on one of the covers of a two-volume set on ‘Islands of the World,’ a series of features by Rhythms Monthly magazine from Taiwan. The photo of the guards in their bearskin hats at a post-Olympics  (2008) homecoming parade present a striking contrast to the East-Timor fishermen on the other cover. Completed over almost three years, the project encompassed a sort of comparative look at various islands’ histories and culture, a chance for the Taiwanese readership to consider how other islands have developed.

Having joined the magazine in the final year of the project, my contributions include features on Great Britain, Japan and Ireland. Click the links to check out work for those stories, along with tearsheets here.

The two books come in a simple but elegant cardboard holder, that show uncropped versions of the cover image.

“Camera, Camera” – Documentary by Malcolm Murray

In Documentary Film on June 25, 2010 at 9:17 am

A disturbing but important look at camera ubiquity and the seeming end of getting ‘off’ the beaten path. There’s a good discussion over at the NYT Lens Blog on the making of the doc and how this proliferation of cameras increasingly puts a distance between tourists and their surrounds.

The world as a whole is being altered by the colonization of fragile cultures by camera-carrying travelers.

Looking forward to seeing this documentary; hope that it makes it beyond the festival track.

Neda Soltani – Strange futures in image usage

In Iran on June 23, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Great FP article on Iran’s ‘other’ Neda Soltani, the girl behind the ‘face’ of last summer’s Green Revolution.

A woman named Neda did indeed die last summer on the streets of Tehran, gunned down by members of an Iranian militia. Her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan. But mixed in with the tragic footage of that Neda’s death, broadcast around the world in a viral video that galvanized world opinion against the Iranian regime, was a compelling Facebook snapshot of a smiling young beauty in a flowered headscarf.

Her name was Neda, too — Neda Soltani.

In a Kafka-esque story I missed (along with millions others apparently), the face known as the ‘Angel of Iran’ was apparently pulled from Facebook from a Tehran grad student, still living today, now seeking asylum in Germany. Sadly,  the story was broken early on and retractions were offered, but none quite caught on. The Foreign Policy article stands out for following up on the living Neda’s story today and asking what might happen in a news environment with such weak media ethics. Well worth a read for anyone interested in media usage of imagery.

New Photo Website up at theodorekaye.com

In news, Showcase, web design on June 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I designed my first Central Asia themed photo website on a lark, a wishful move to become a professional photographer, while preparing for grad school. Less than 3 years later, with a generous dose of kind mentoring and absurd luck, I’m a staff photographer at Rhythms Monthly, the premier Chinese-language geographic monthly. The original, puny 4 galleries that got me the job have been eclipsed by more photos and sets than I can keep properly  organized.

I’ve finally gotten around to revamping my old website, thanks to the wonderful support and design help from China photographer M.Scott Brauer. If you’re not already familiar with his photo work, do check it out. While my original flash-based, seo-unfriendly site did land me a few great opportunities, I knew Scott was likely a strong candidate for web consulting, for the forward-thinking reasons he articulately lists here. If you’re a photographer looking for a smarter site, consider asking him for a consulation.

Brilliant film-making: Noam Murro and Tasmanian beer

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Here’s a mysterious but brilliant piece of film-making from Noam Murro, an Australian director. I like it partly for the strangely convincing mix of CGI and what seems like David Attenborough-esque nature footage and partly because I just love that track by the music group,  The Books. What any of this has to do with the creation of a Tasmanian beer is a bit of a leap of faith, but it’s certainly got me curious.

There’s s a higher-quality and slightly-longer albeit slower-loading version at Biscuit Film works,  along with some of the director’s more straightforward commercial ad-work .

Happy Chinese New Year from Taiwan

In Taiwan on February 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm

A happy Chinese New Year from Taiwan, where festivities and bad weather are in full swing! The coming year promises a number of interesting assignments, which I plan to share here on the Forking Paths. Below are some of the photos I took over the past few days of New Year activities, including (in order) ringing in the new year at Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山) with a sutra-inscribed 25 tonne bell, the gentler side of fireworks madness at Guandu, and crowds queuing up
to rub the Folk deity Tudigong’s (土地公) beard. I’ve started shooting with a new Nikon D3s – which has amazing hi-iso light sensitivity – allowing for images like the one in the center of the father and son. Click any of the images for a larger view.

Taipei Pillow Fight, 2010 Panorama | 臺北街頭枕頭大戰 |

In Fun, Taiwan on January 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm

A massive pillow fight at Taipei’s Chiang Kai Shek Memorial organized on Facebook, where it was termed 臺北街頭枕頭大戰 (loosely translated: ‘Taipei Street Corner Pillow Fight Battle Royale’.) Click the image above to experience the interactive panorama of the mêlée.

The event barely ran 15 minutes before it was broken up by some flustered security guards – still, quite a bizarre and wonderful scene while it lasted. Turnout was tiny compared to similar events elsewhere. This was probably one of the trickier panoramas I’ve pulled off, but it pales technically compared to this NYC pillow fight pano. I shot the pano with 4 images using the D3 and a Sigma 8mm on a tripod post that I held above my head, shooting with an intervalometer. Sure, it looked goofy – but it worked! The ambient sound was recorded separately on a Zoom H4n.

If you’re in Taipei and missed the fun, a second round might come about on April 4, 2010 — Worldwide Pillow Fight Day.