Picasa For The Mac Finally Available

I just read over on Techcrunch that Picasa for the Mac is finally ready. You can get it at http://picasa.google.com/mac/. I wrote about the rumors of Picasa on the Mac 10 days short of a year ago. The Mac version is nearly identical to it’s PC counterpart, interface and all. Check out the overview video embedded below.

One of the main reasons I like Picasa over iPhoto, the free photo program that comes with every new Mac, is Picasa keeps your folders in tact not forcing you to keep your library in a specific hierarchy. Plus, I find Picasa more intuitive and easy to use.

Picasa 3 for Mac Screenshot

Now I just need to figure out how to sync my photo library and information between my Mac and PC instances of Picasa.

If you haven’t tried Picasa yet, give it a whirl .It really is a great way to organize and edit photos.

A Different Take On Food Art

Matthew Carden has an awesome set of food macro shots on his site 350degrees.com. Using small people figurines, Matt creates imaginative scenes out of food items. The scuba diver on the wine glass is one of my favorites.

A scuba diver sits on the edge of a wine glass.

Tiny people on top of broccoli

There are a lot more on his site including the option to buy prints.

(via The Last People)

Turkey Bowl 2008 Pictures

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving the Filipino Cultural Association of College Park takes part in a flag-football tournament with other schools in the area. For the past three years I have been taking pictures at the game while Kristina played. Since Kristina is no longer a student she was there for moral support but I still took pictures. Here are some of the standout photos.

The girls team fared well but ended up losing to rival George Mason in the last game. The boys ended up winning it all but it was so windy and cold Kristina and I decided to take off early. Besides when the sun goes down it’s pretty much useless to take sports photos.

There are two albums on Facebook with even more images.

Canon Strikes Back Against The Nikon D90

Two weeks ago Nikon launched the first DSLR with video capabilities. But today Canon unveiled the 5D Mark II, a worthy competitor. The 21.1 megapixel successor to the 5D includes the ability to shoot 30 progressive frames per second with 1,080 vertical lines per frame. Video nerds call this 1080p30. What this means for the rest of us is the 5D Mark II becomes an effective HD media acquisition tool for both pictures and video.

Canon has a sample gallery with 8 videos resized for the web. Full resolution video clips from the Canon 5D Mark II are also available for download.

The table below outlines the video differences between the two cameras.

  Canon 5D Mark II Nikon D90
Resolution 1920×1080 1280×720
Frame Rate 30p 24p
Video Format MOV(H.264) AVI (MJPEG)
Max Recording at full resolution 12 minutes 5 minutes
Microphone Input 1/8" mono jack None

The biggest thing that makes the 5D Mark II better for video over the D90 is the microphone input. The mic input is big for people that want to record sound from something other than the on board microphone. It might not be an XLR input, which all of the professional gear uses, but it is still nice to have the option.

While most prosumer media gurus will be excited about the 1080p abilities of the Canon 5D Mark II, indy filmmakers like Stu Maschwitz are adamantly upset about the lack of 24p. Shooting video at 24 frames per second produces a look that is more filmic and less harsh compared to the TV standard 30 frames per second as well as making it easier to transfer to film for cinema distribution. I see Canon targeting the 5D Mark II video features at the web video crowd who want to capture the best photos and videos from a single device. This is more like TV news gathering than artsy, indy filmmakers.

But I see no reason why Canon couldn’t introduce a new firmware update that gives a new option for 24p recording since it is certainly feasible technically.

The new camera is set to go on sale at the end of November for $2,700. The Nikon D90 will hit the market at the end of September for less than $1,300. Until then you can read about every single minute detail from DPReview’s hands on preview of both the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D90.

Video Recording From A DSLR?

Nikon announced the Nikon D90 digital SLR yesterday. The camera is your run-of-the-mill DSLR with 12.3 megapixels, built-in sensor cleaning, and a bigger screen blah, blah, blah! But the feature that that sets this still camera from the pack is the fact that it does 720p HD video at 24 frames per second.

A digital SLR that records high-definition video? Holy smokes! Point and shoots have been able to record video for quite some time. What seperates the D90 from point and shoots is the larger sensor size and the glass in front of that sensor. HD video is known for lacking depth resulting in a bland, flat image. Several companies like Red Rock Microsystems even make adapters for prosumer cameras that enable the attachment of 35mm lenses to get around the issue.

The sample video clips from the D90 speak for themselves:

It seems natural that video capabilities will become standard affair in DSLRs within the next 2 years. How will Canon respond to Nikon’s volley? Nikon has put Canon in an uncomfortable position. Keep in mind, Nikon doesn’t make video cameras. Canon does.

Assasin Bug And Honey Bee Close Up

I’ve been saving these two dead bugs for a while. I really wanted to take some detailed, close-up macro shots of them when I found the time. Well tonight was that time!

Close up shot of the side of an assassin bug.

I believe the bug above is called an Assassin bug. At least that is how I always refered to it. As you can see this little bugger collected some dust while laying on it’s back.

Assassin bugs get their name because of the speed that they have to grab and poison their prey. They are carnivorous, or meat eaters, and use their powerful, jack-knife forelegs to grab their prey. They have sticky pads on these front legs, made up of thousands of tiny hairs, that stick to their victims and keep them from getting away.source

Close up macro shot of a honey bee on it\'s side.

This looks like a typical honey bee found all over North America. It was hard to find an interesting angle for this guy but I ended up laying him on his side so I could get a glimpse of his underside.

For both of these pictures I used a Tamron 180mm 1:1 macro lens on my Canon 300D. I used an old Sony 200 watt video camera light to keep the shutter speeds high in order to reduce the effects of camera shake. When you are zoomed in as close as I was even the pressure on the shutter button is enough to cause unwanted motion blur on the subject.

I experimented with different apertures mainly around f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11 and f/16 to see which would give me the best focus. f/16 was the one used in both of these photos and proved to be the winner of the night.

Photographing dead, lifeless bugs is good practice but I have no idea how macro photographers capture live, moving bugs with such crispness and clarity. One of these days I will venture outdoors with this macro lens and see for myself how to do it.

A Photoshoot With Kids

Last weekend Kristina and I ventured over to the house of a family friend to take pictures of her kids playing with a toy. Kristina was designing toy packaging and needed shots of a child playing with the toy for the box art.

Graci readies for her shoot.

Scheduling the shoot during the late morning hours wasn’t the most helpful time in terms of lighting. Most of the shots had our subject squinting with dark shadows in her eyes. This could have been fixed by bouncing light onto her face from below using a reflector. Of course this didn’t occur to me until after the fact and I didn’t have a reflector with me. We made do with what we had and brought back some decent results.
Toy Package Design for Berry Buddies

After the official work was done and out of the way the kids wanted to play. I got some interesting shots of child play in action.

Andi gets some height in her midair split.

Graci sure knew how to pose for the camera.

Don\'t let the Graci out!

You can see more pictures in my Picasa web album.

Optimal Aperture For Foreground Sharpness At Infinity

The technical bits of photography can be a bit tricky. Understanding the effects of different aperture settings comes with lots of experimenting. For example, focusing at infinity sounds fairly straight forward. Essentially everything in the background will be in focus. But depending on the aperture you have set, the items in the foreground may be out of focus. Luckily Robert Seber has posted this helpful chart to his Flickr photostream showing the minimum distance you need to be to get everything sharp and in focus.

Optimal Aperture For Foreground Sharpness At Infinity

To quote Robert on how to read this chart:

Suppose you are using a 20mm lens focused at infinity. Something in the foreground is 12ft away. The point at which 12ft and 20mm intersect is closest to the f/13 line, so f/13 is the aperture to use.

Suppose you are using a 50mm lens focused at infinity. Something in the foreground is 6ft away. No line on the graph is close to this. At this point you need to re-think your shot and move further from the foreground, otherwise it will be intolerably soft. 26ft to the foreground will allow you to use an aperture of f/22.

Suppose you are using a 10mm lens focused at infinity. Something in the foreground is 12ft away. You’re above the f/8 line so f/8 will work just fine.

The basic rule to take away from this is the longer the focal length you use the smaller the aperture you will need to use to get the foreground sharp, or the further you need to move back.

You should also check out Robert’s photos. His macros are really top notch.


Aye Aye, Grasshopper

Two Flickr Photographers To Watch

Thanks to the Flickr Interestingness widget on my Netvibes page, I stumbled across two Flickr members with gorgeous work.

First up is Sakura who does a lot of floral macro work. What really makes her photos stand out is the bright, vibrant colors that are usually blurred into the background. She sells prints of her photos at Imagekind.

Lady Bug on Flower

Red flower on blue background

Spring Sprung

Propellers

Time To Go Home

Ajisai Blue

Next I stumbled upon JayJuice who drew me in with her pictures of minimalistic urban landscapes. I love how she can find beauty in an everyday scene. Prints from JayJuice are available at Red Bubble.

Yellow Squares, Black Light

Silver Light, Blue Wall

64

Grungey Wall

Industrial Wall with Wires


Yellow Railing, Gray Wall

If you are looking for photographic inspiration, take a look at the rest of the galleries these two offer on Flickr.

34-Pound Uber-Telephoto Lens From Sigma

Sigma dropped a doozy of a lens today. The 200-500mm f/2.8 super (dooper?) telephoto boasts being the first lens in the world to maintain such a large aperture throughout the entire zoom range. A dedicated lithium battery pack is required for focusing and zooming operation and an included accessory extender turns this lens into a 400-1000mm f/5.6. Sigma went with a military color palette instead of the typical black. But perhaps the most startling property of this lens is that it weighs 34 pounds! Talk about a back breaker.

Sigma 200-500 f/2.8

Lens name APO 200-500mm F2.8/400-1000m F5.6 EX DG
Focal length 200-500mm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens construction 13 groups 17 elements
Angle of view 12.3°-5°
Closest focus distance 150cm / 59.1in
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:4.2
Aperture blades 9
Filter attachment size 77 mm
Focusing Motorized internal focus
Dimensions 236.5mm×726mm (9.3in × 28.6in)
Weight 15,700g (553.7oz)
Supplied accessories • Dedicated hard case
• Strap
• 400-1000mm f/5.6 attachment
• Battery charger BC-21
• Battery pack BP-21

Price? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. I guess it wasn’t made for people like me who take photos of flag football and spiders in my bathroom. Oh well it’s not like I need another lens.