Digital Photography

Focus Stacking in Oxford.

Focus stacking in photography is a technique used to get the greatest amount of depth of field in a single image by processing multiple images taken at different focus distances. Most of the time we are talking a handful of images. Probably less than 10 for most people. Now all of that changes when you start doing micro photography and use microscope lenses to get your final images.

The video below is about the groundbreaking photographic technique used by Levon Biss for the Oxford University of Natural Sciences. Biss focus stacks as many as 8000 images, moving his camera 10 microns at a time to get his end result. A human hair is about 75 microns, so Biss is moving his camera about an eighth of the width of a human hair to get enough shots to build a final image. The reason for this is because the depth of field on the lenses he is using is so shallow, it is the only way he can produce the results he wants. And those results are pretty damn amazing.

I don’t really get into insects, but I could look at this stuff all day long. Be sure and jump over to his site to see more of this amazing work.

Nikon “Heartography” Made Grizzler a “Phodographer”.

I want this for my dog. I want this for me. Nikon has developed a camera for your pooch that responds to the dogs heart rate and takes photos according to your dogs level of excitement. Nikon’s Heartography experiment is a 3D-printed custom case for a Nikon camera that can be strapped to your dog to take photos from a dog’s-eye view. The case is connected to a heart-rate monitor strap which is used to track the dogs heartbeat. When the dog’s heart rate spikes, the case tells the camera to snap a photo.

While this is a Nikon experiment its a product I think would sell well. It’s a nice blend of technology, physical product and could have hooks into social media sites like Flickr, Instagram, Google +, and facebook. If you go to the Nikon Heartography site you can see a ton of examples that their canine pal snapped. They aren’t that bad, and large portion of them are as good as most of what I see on Facebook and Instagram these days.

The Selfie Obsessed Olympus EPL7.

In a selfie obsessed world where even the spirit of Narcissus is tired of seeing people pop photos of themselves , Olympus has announced the EPL-7 camera with all the selfie shooters in mind. The tech spec on the camera are all over the internet, and as a camera goes, this looks like a pretty solid micro 4/3 system. What is cracking me up though is the marketing materials on YouTube that they have created. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s just me being grumpy, but these videos make me say “Get a life. Get some friends and take pictures of them instead of narcissistic yourself. It makes for far more interesting images.” Watching this woman snap shots of her own mug, by herself, while making kissy faces at the camera, just makes me want to laugh. The thing is though, this angle might actually work, with those people that are selfie obsessed and want more than what their smartphone has to offer. For the complete EPL7 selfie channel, click here.

Back in the Saddle.

After five days at Rocky Mountain National Park I’m finding it hard to get back into the swing of things.  Over the course of that five day period I spent 3 days hiking about 25 miles and and taking photos along the way. As the mini vacation wound down, I was hitting my stride and really wished for a couple more days in the park to shoot additional photos and hopefully see a bit more wildlife.

While there, I focused on using two lenses as my primary shooting tools. The Zuiko 17mm f1.8 prime, and the Zuiko 75 to 300mm f4.8 zoom. The 17 was used as a general purpose lens and the 75 to 300 for grabbing distance shots of wildlife in the park. The shots below were all shot as Olympus RAW files that were opened via Adobe Bridge with enhancements being done to the RAW data before opening the file. Once in Photoshop, files were cropped and in some cases merged to create the ultra-wide panoramas.

I’m not going to go into any kind of in-depth review of the two lenses. There is plenty of information on both of them all over the internet, and most give a much more technical review then I ever would. What I will say is this. I rented the 17 to try it out. I’ll be buying it. Hands down it was one of the best primes I’ve shot with on the OMD. I wish we would have had cloudless nights, because I wanted to try it for star trails. Maybe next time. The 17 is a fast focusing, super sharp, ultra quiet lens. The snap ring manual focusing sold it. As for the 75 to 300. It’s a solid lens, but it is by no means a best in class. For the money it was worth every penny. The photos below that were shot with it are annotated with approximate distances to show just how much reach this lens has.

Distance of about 30 feet with the focal length set to about 200mm.

Distance of about 30 feet with the focal length set to about 200mm.

Distance of about 50 yards with a focal length of 300mm. OMD in Black and White mode.

Distance of about 50 yards with a focal length of 300mm. OMD in Black and White mode.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Three images shot with the 17mm merged in Photoshop to create the final composite.

Distance of about 75 yards with the focal length at 300mm.

Distance of about 75 yards with the focal length at 300mm.

17mm at the closest focusing point of about 8 inches

17mm at the closest focusing point of about 8 inches