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.

Craft. A Modular Camera System.

In the last 20 years there has been a massive change in photography and cinematography technology. Digital changed the game, then smartphones. One thing that has remained fairly constant though is the form factor. Aside from smartphones, digital cameras look and function very similar to an analog film camera. Your fancy DSLR might have upgraded electronics and a digital image processor, but it still looks and functions the same way your old film camera did. Buy a body, buy a bunch of lenses, get the the battery grip, etc. So here comes a new camera company that might just change all that.


Craft has designed a camera system where every component is interchangeable allowing you to design a system best suited to your needs. While the video below is just a 3D rendering of the yet to be released final product, the system shows promise. This is a modular system with a number of unique innovations, and a very competitive price point for photographers. The website shows a complete 4K video set up for less than 2 grand which is not bad when you consider what you get.

Some of the innovations that I find really intriguing are the hot swappable lens mounts, the ND filter set up, the connectivity module, and the fact that you can build this to fit your needs. Full tech specifactions are at the bottom of this post.

craft 4

craft 3

Technical Specifications (Full technical specifications will be announced early this summer):
HD Video Element, Super 16mm CMOS Sensor with Global Shutter (1920×1080, 1280×720)
4K Video Element, Super 35mm CMOS Sensor with Global Shutter (4096 x 2160, 1920×1080, 1280 x 720)
Frame rates 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, 60
Fast and slow frame rate speeds at intervals up to 120fps
Recording Formats Cinema DNG and ProRes (additional formats will announced).
Dimensions (W x H x D)
Video Elements: (97.15mm x 96mm x 39.68mm) (3.7” x 3.6” x 1.5″)
Store, Battery, Audio Elements: (97.15mm x 96mm x 33.4mm) (3.7” x 3.6”x 1.3″)
LCD Elements: (97.15mm x 96mm x 30mm) (3.7” x 3.6” x 1.2″)
Fully assembled cinema camera: (97.15mm x 96mm x 170mm) (3.7” x 3.6” x 6.6″)

You Get What You Pay For. Good Design Takes Time and Costs Money.

I apologize in advance. I’m on a bit of a rant this morning.

In the last  month I have been doing quite a bit more freelance. At the suggestion of a friend I signed up for an online service that  sends you job leads and allows you to bid on the perspective jobs in order to build your business. On average I receive about 15 requests a day. You’re probably thinking “Not bad, I could make a living if I only got 1 or 2 jobs from the list”. The problem is 85 to 90 percent of the leads are complete crap. And I mean crap in the sense that the people requesting work are clueless about what it takes to do the work and get anything worth their time.

A large portion of the people requesting work want to pay less than $500.00 per assignment,  and act as though they are doing you a favor because you’ll have a more stuff to add to your portfolio when you are done. I sort of get that, but what I don’t get is what most of these people expect for a couple of hundred dollars and a whole lot of time.

If you are a non-graphic design professional, animator, web designer, illustrator, writer, etc. you need to read this and get a clue about what it takes to get quality work. It takes more than 500 bucks. Your designer needs more than 24 hours. You need to know how to spell and articulate a complete sentence when selling your request. And you need to understand that high quality design takes time and money. You wouldn’t nickel and dime the guy working on your car, your electrician, the guy that does your taxes, your doctor, dentist, lawyer, or other professional services, so why the creative that is going to help you look great.

Design, Graphic Design, Animation, Illustration, Photography,Web Design, Copywriting, Video Production, and all creative endeavors take time, and money. The quality skills  that your design professional has honed, didn’t just happen over night. They are highly tailored and polished skills that deserve the same amount of respect as any other professional service. We don’t just draw pictures. There is a whole lot of thinking behind what we do, and a whole lot of skill required to do it right.

In addition to what I just said, if you want me to bid on your job learn to use spell check. Gain control of the English language. Learn to write a coherent sentence, and think about what you are asking for before submitting your request to one of these online services. Like the unrealistic time and money constraints most of these requests have, most of the requesters submit items that read as though they were written by individuals that have no clue. If you want any real design professional to take you seriously, you need to learn how to write a proposal without spelling and grammar errors.

A realistic proposal that doesn’t low ball the talent and make your design professional walk away from your job. To show you what I mean, I have a series of requests that were in my email inbox this morning. All of these jobs are for less than 500 bucks. All of the requesters are pretty much clueless. None of these are edited. Just copied and pasted into this post as is.

“I need someone to do a Flyer like representation of a Webpage. Using the photo files and someone who can design this in photo shop. I also need some royalty free images that I can use for icons submitted to me as a part of this job.” Right because for 500 bucks or less I can do some “photo shop” work and buy you royalty free stock images.

“I would like to start a production company music, film and photography 25% of all profit goes to Ifaw animal rescues, and breast cancer foundations , I’ll need a crew of professional photographers a video crew and music producers along with account manager s and business reps to help run and handle finances and payment to employees.” Hey will you do everything for me. I have this idea and I want to make money, but I need everyone else to do the work.

“Looking for someone to design 5 animation pieces that I can use on an html/css scripted webpage. I can write the script to add the pieces where I want. I’d like the pieces to be separate files that I can upload somewhere to link to my webpage. I’m guessing gifs? Each piece around 200px by 200px not strict size because each one would of course need to have different dimensions to accommodate the animation. 1) Squirrel with a gold crown, red/white cape, holding a gold scepter. With some sort of fitting slight movement such as raising the scepter. 2) A squirrel with an over the shoulder pouch full of acorns. Animation of crouching down and gathering more acorns with a greedy looking facial expression. Movement from right to left. 3) A squirrel with a silver helm and silver armor pointing a sword with one hand out and leading a bunch of smaller squirrels marching with spears. 4) A bearded squirrel in a robe doing alchemy at a table at first facing away. Animation turning around and flashing a wicked smile before turning back around to work. 5) Last one of a noble looking squirrel with a white and black cape standing in a superman pose. Squirrel from 2, 3, and 4 kneeling in front of him.” Seriously?

“we need a web site built that will be ahead of its time…. you must know word press were building a sales and auction site plus much more” So informative. I can jump right in on this based on the information you just gave me.

“Need a creative mixtape cover for a Mixtape BY Nam The name of the mixtape Jugger’s & Finesser’s The artist name and the title of the mixtape need to be in the pictures” People still make mix-tapes?

“Create prints for kids clothing. Should be up to date. unique. We will provide the inspiration you do the work. We need to be efficient. HAve to fit into the brand image” They provide the inspiration, you do the work…

“The Rappers name is NAM So ideas on the logo is something to do with monkey’s Skulls T-rex But most the logo has to be the name of the rapper in a unique creative way” Say what?

“I have written a musical play, and I need an artist, who can create pin and ink drawings to illustrate the scenes in the play. I require approximately 40 pin & ink drawings to be done.” Wow, “Pin” and ink is my specialty.

“Need a designer to create digital flyers for our upcoming Nightclub events. Job description is as follows: Uses knowledge of current graphic design software to produce graphic art and visual materials for promotions, advertisements, films, packaging, and informative and instructional material through a variety of media outlets such as websites and CD-ROMs. Generates and manipulates graphic images, animations, sound, text and video into consolidated and seamless multimedia programs.” Yes for 500 bucks or less you want design, animation, video editing, typography all in an ongoing seamless  multimedia package.

“I need to redo the images, pics and icons in the app to a more professional look. This app has multiple themings that it supports but the graphic files are usually in white background. There is a limited number of image/icon files in the app that are used.” What the hell is a ‘theming”?

“Have video footage that needs to be turned into 3 different trailers. Slick production quality is a must.” Not a problem. I’ll just use the “Slick” Plugin for After Effects.

Not every request I get via email are like the ones above. I have actually gotten some work from sites like Outsource. These aren’t even the worst examples. I’ve thrown out so many emails in the last couple of weeks that make these look good by comparison. It is a fairly solid representation though of how people perceive the visual design business. It’s always been this way, most folks just don’t get what goes into producing quality design work. For whatever reason I thought things had changed over the last decade with the huge rise in design awareness and all the press design had been getting. Apparently not. I’ll leave you with this, it’s one of my faves.

“I have written a children’s book. I need 250 illustrations plus the cover. I want a watercolor look to them in a realistic style similar to Norman Rockwell. Along with each of the lustrations I will need about 75 to 100 of them animated since this will be released as an eBook for the iPad. You will need to produce muzic and sound effects for each of the anima tions as well. I on a quuick turn around. I need all these done by July 10 or 11. If you are successful candidate I wil ned you to design and build a website to promote my book. I have 100 dollers for the website work.” All this for less than 500 bucks. Yeah right.


Photographic Bang Bang.


With the Fourth of July just 2 days away, what could be more fitting than something about fireworks. The video below shows artist Ross Sonnenberg creating some insanely great abstract photographs using one of his favorite secret ingredients. Fireworks. Sonnenburg uses a host of other tools to create the images, including  gel, sand and light, but the fireworks give it a special twist. The results are beautiful, intensely colored one of a kind photograms. Each image is a random chance experiment full of texture, color, line, and shapes all created without a camera.

“For my latest body of work entitled “The Big Bang”, I had become fascinated with the photogram. In my research artists such as Mariah Robertson, Susan Derges and especially Marco Breuer are doing work that I admire. I became intrigued by the possibilities of this photographic process. I thought to myself “What can I bring that maybe could be interesting to me?”

     My light source of choice would be fireworks of varying persuasions, combined with other materials. Interestingly, the images (Which were few and far between) were looking like fictional galaxies, with all their beautiful imperfections resembled our images of our real solar system, ironically created by the first Big Bang millions of years ago.”

From Sonnenberg’s website

Sonnenberg varies the scale of the images. He has two previous series that smaller scale works Color Bang. And Long Bang which is a series of larger scale works created with larger more powerful fireworks.