If you like to do astro-photography – shooting images of the sky at night – one of the key things you need to do is avoid light pollution from nearby cities, factories, etc. There are several sites that help you to identify those areas that have been designated as dark-sky reserves but often these are specific places that may be too far away to be of much use to you.
However a new website featuring a mash-up of Google Maps and the recent NASA “Blue Marble” Earth at Night photos means it is now much easier to spot potential dark skies nearer to home.
The Blue Marble Night Lights 2012 Navigator allows you to move around and zoom in and out just as you would with Google Maps, but shows the night-time illumination instead of the traditional map or day-time satellite images. This means you can spot areas near you where there is little light at night and hopefully therefore little in the way of light pollution. Of course for the perfect star shots it still might be worthwhile planning a trip further afield (I know from visiting some pretty remote areas on my travels that the sky can be stunning with no light pollution) but the Blue Marble Navigator is a good option if you want to give astro-photography a try.
Just a quick note to let you know that National Geographic, long the favourite of photographers and praised for its imagery, is currently offering their complete back-copy on 7 DVDs for jsut $25.
From their site:
Browse 123 years of National Geographic magazine—more than 1,400 issues, 8,000 articles, 200,000 photographs, and hundreds of maps exactly as they appeared in print. Our definitive collection of every issue of National Geographic magazine through 2011 is digitally reproduced in high resolution. Use the visual interface to explore a topic, find photographs, browse the globe, or wander on your own expedition.
I’m not sure how long the offer will last or if there are any other restrictions (i.e. US only) so if you’re interested, follow the link below to check it out!
The Complete National Geographic on 7 DVD-ROMs
In November last year, David duChemin and the team at Craft & Vision launched a quarterly digital publication showcasing great image portfolios alongside informative and useful articles on technique and vision. Three months have passed and true to its name, the second edition of “Photograph Quarterly” has now been released.
Subsequent issues of a periodical like this are always a challenge. Was the initial release a one off, or can the quality of both the images and articles remain as high as the first issue?
This issue includes another three great photo portfolios followed by photographer Q&As – nature and landscapes by Martin Bailey, African animals and safari shots by Andy Biggs and a series of portraits by Chris Orwig – along with eleven articles covering everything from Creative Composition and using Natural Light through to The Art of the Print and an introduction to food photography in Simple Sushi Session.
Being the Lightroom geek that I am I especially like the article Before + After by Piet van Den Eynde. In this he takes a photo from a recent trip and shot on a compact camera (he wanted to travel light as was on his bike!) and talks about how the vastly improved RAW converters in software such as Lightroom 4 (and as Piet says, if you’ve not upgraded to v4 yet then do) mean you can extract far more from your image which previously would have required extended sessions in Photoshop or even HDR techniques.
So does this second instalment live up to the promise of the first? I think it does. The breadth of the content means that it’s unlikely everyone will like everything, but as with issue 1 there are individual articles and portfolios that most people will like and find interesting and as such I would again recommend it. I know traditionally Craft & Vision (as their name implies) focus mainly on your personal creative approach to photography, but “Photograph Quarterly” is a great mix of inspiration, creative advice and technical pointers.
You can buy a single stand-alone issue for $8 or alternatively you can purchase a full year subscription – four issues from the date you purchase – for just $24 (a 25% saving on the individual price).
Click here to visit Craft & Vision.
With the explosion of web sites to share your photos, everything from Flickr and Facebook to self hosted portfolios, it become easier for someone to “acquire” your images for their own use. Of course if you really want to stop people stealing your images, then don’t upload them anywhere on the web, but for many photographers, they want to showcase their work and so its necessary to post at least a selection of images. One option to help deter non-approved use is watermarks. Smaller ones unfortunately can be quickly cropped off or removed. Larger ones distract and can ruin your photos. You can even create hidden watermarks. Its all a balancing act. But what happens when you discover that your images have been used without your authorisation?
PictureDefense.com is a new free site that takes you through what you need to do to get one of your images removed from a web site when you haven’t authorised its use. It seems to be primarily US focused but should still provide useful information from those outside America.
The site is very simple to use. Once you find one of your photos being used (Google Image Search is an easy way to find these sites, if you only have a small number of photos) you just select the category for where it is being used and the site takes you through the steps, in increasing order of severity, to get the offending image taken down. It also covers making sure you’ve got proof of use.
It doesn’t cover every possible use but is a good start. The site has only recently launched so hopefully it will expand over the coming months to provide a useful resource. Of course protection and clear copyright are the first steps, but if you do find unauthorised use of your photos PictureDefense.com is a good place to check out what to do next.
I’ve posted a few articles recently about how the majority of things people do in Photoshop could also have been done in the dark room back in even the earliest days of film photography. I discovered another great example of what is possible with film the other day and thought I’d share it with you.
When viewing the image on the right or when you first view Thomas Barbèy’s gallery you might think you’ve seen it all before. Clever and witty manipulation of photos to create slightly surreal final images. Surely that’s something anyone with a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop could do, you ask yourself.
However, Thomas shoots on film and all the images are created not via digital post-production, but instead via analog dark room techniques. Inspired by artists such as Rene Magritte, M.C. Escher and Roger Dean, Thomas Barbèy achieves his images through a variety of methods including in-camera double exposures, exposing two negatives sandwiched together at the same time and even re-photographing collaged images.
From his website:
I travel a lot to take photographs of different things and places. Sometimes I use an image several years later, but only when it fits, like the perfect piece in a puzzle, and completes my latest project. Some images are composed of negatives that are separated by a decade in the actual time that I had taken them and only come to life when they found their perfect match. it’s the combination of two or more negatives that they give birth to a completely unusual vision, but most of all, the title I give the final image is the glue and the substance of the piece.
So, if you tend to dismiss a photo that has been post-processed in Photoshop as not being a “real” photo – something from the good old days of film – then remember that Photoshop grew out of dark room techniques and there are many creative ways to process photos both via analog or digital methods.