Women Making Whiskey: An 800-Year History →

May 15, 2015 |

Fascinating piece by Lindsey Gilpin over at The Atlantic:

Women are credited with the invention of beer around 4,000 B.C., when they fermented barley to make the beverage. Egyptian women, Peruvian women, Dutch women—they were all brewmasters with their own particular, popular recipes. Maria Hebraea, an alchemist who was first written about in the fourth century, has been credited with building an early distilling apparatus. That device, the alembic still, is still used in some parts of Europe for making brandy or whiskey, and is a model for stills used today in the foothills of Appalachia, where people continue to make moonshine.

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Australian modeling agencies now require models to have a minimum of 10,000 Instagram followers to book a job →

May 15, 2015 |

Sam Bailey, writing for The Daily Mail Australia:

General manager of Vivien’s Models Catherine McGill told Daily Mail Australia that they launched an ’influencers’ section two months ago because of the growing need to accommodate client demand for social media numbers.

‘Our bookers were giving me feedback that clients wanted models who might be blonde, beachy and had a high social media following,’ she said.

‘Now when we’re booking talent, in negotiation process, we talk about the girls numbers.’ McGill says the average expectation of clients will range anywhere between 10,000 - 300,000 followers.

‘It’s not hard and fast number, but 10,000 is the minimum number clients are asking for,’ she said.

This is the ugly side of the social media-driven world we’ve created.

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MirrorLessons reviews the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 lens →

May 15, 2015 |

MirrorLessons continues their series of reviews of the spectacular Voigtlander primes for the Micro Four Thirds system. This time around it’s the 42.5mm f/0.95 and by the looks of it, it didn’t disappoint.

On one hand, I loved the purely mechanical build of the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 and the accuracy of the manual focus ring. The 0.95 aperture makes subject isolation a breeze and the bokeh is as creamy as custard. On the other, I’d be reluctant to give up autofocus completely. And with offerings like the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 and Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 on the market, it is possible to have a very fast aperture, beautiful bokeh and that razor-like sharpness that is so desirable from a portrait lens.

One thing to keep in mind when considering these specialty lenses is that they’re not about technical perfection, but about character. Clinically sharp lenses can actually have a detrimental effect on certain types of photography, and portraiture is probably the best example of that. Once a lens is so sharp that it starts revealing imperfections, the overall effect may stop being pleasant and cross the line into unflattering territory.

Yes, the Panasonic Nocticron is sharper, especially in the corners, but it’s so clinically perfect that in some cases its images can look a bit artificial. The same thing has been said about the Olympus 75mm f/1.8.

Those lenses may be technically better, and they’re definitely amazing, but none of them can match the character and unique look of the Voigtlander primes.1 Much like in life certain flaws can add to a person’s character, in photography perfection is rarely what makes for an interesting photograph.

  1. In their defense, these lenses have unique looks of their own, and many people even prefer them to the Voigtlanders. It’s largely a matter of personal preference.

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Introducing the Lily Camera →

May 15, 2015 |

The Lily Camera is a drone that will follow you shooting HD video while you do all sort of crazy things. On the specs side, the Lily is a pretty decent camera that can shoot 1080p video at 60 fps, 720p video at 120 fps and 12 MP stills, but its coolest feature is that you simply need to throw it in the air to start recording a new video. Check it out:

I’m not really into drones — or even old-fashioned GoPros, for that matter — but even I have to admit it looks pretty awesome.

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Washington state lawmaker defends bike tax, says bicycling is not good for the environment →

May 15, 2015 |

Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog calls Representative Ed Orcutt out on his incredibly obtuse thinking when it comes to cycling:

Representative Ed Orcutt (R – Kalama) does not think bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have “an increased heart rate and respiration.”

You can’t make this stuff up. Also:

“You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car,” he said. However, he said he had not “done any analysis” of the difference in CO2 from a person on a bike compared to the engine of a car (others have).

“You can’t just say that there’s no pollution as a result of riding a bicycle.”

Similarly, you can’t just say Representative Orcutt is not a moron as a result of these comments.

Luckily, he later apologized via email and recognized how ridiculous his argument was.

Still, an apology is certainly better than nothing, but that shouldn’t be the end of it. This story clearly demonstrates the lengths many politicians will go to in order to further their political agenda. The fact that elected State Representatives like Mr. Orcutt can make outrageously ignorant comments and then shrug them off as if nothing happened just goes to show how little respect they have for their voters.

Via Joseph Rooks.

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BB King dies at 89 →

May 15, 2015 |

Beautiful obituary by Tony Russell over at The Guardian:

BB King, who has died aged 89, was the most influential blues musician of his generation and the music’s most potent symbol. He represented the blues as Louis Armstrong once represented jazz, a single performer who could nevertheless stand, and speak, for the whole genre.

So sad.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art VS Canon 50mm f/1.2L →

May 13, 2015 |

Another excellent lens comparison by Matthew Gore over at Light & Matter, as usual. In this case, the Sigma lens practically wipes the floor with the Canon. Unless you absolutely need the shallowest depth of field possible, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art appears to be best normal lens you can buy today.

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‘Thing Explainer’, the new book by Randall Munroe →

May 13, 2015 |

Randall Munroe, writing on the xkcd blog:

Today, I’m excited to announce that I’m publishing a collection of large-format (9″x13″) Up Goer Five-style blueprints. The book is full of detailed diagrams of interesting objects, along with explanations of what all the parts are and how they work.

The titles, labels, and descriptions are all written using only the thousand most common English words. Since this book explains things, I’ve called it Thing Explainer.

I love these schematic drawings. The book will be released before the end of the year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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Olympus announces two new PRO lenses, special edition E-M5 Mark II →

May 12, 2015 |

Olympus officially unveiled a lot of cool stuff today, to be released by the end of June:

  • The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO zoom lens, which completes their Pro zoom lineup and offers all of the same advantages of its longer siblings. More information on the Olympus site.

  • The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO lens, which is the widest high-end prime for the system with a 180-degree diagonal angle of view. More information on the Olympus site.

  • The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Limited Edition, which comes in a Titanium color — reminiscent of the classic OM-3T/Ti from 1994 — and bundled with a premium leather strap, leather card case, and numbered owner’s card. It comes in a kit with the Olympus 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 lens, and it will be limited to 7,000 units worldwide. More information on the Olympus site.

All in all, it’s been an interesting day for Olympus owners. Every item announced seems to continue the excellent run Olympus has been in for the past few years and if the rumors are anything to go by, it doesn’t look like they’re planning to stop anytime soon.

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Shawn Blanc on avoiding burnout →

May 12, 2015 |

Shawn Blanc:

They tell you to ship early and ship often. As a writer, shipping means getting your words onto the page and then getting them out there into the world.

My focus was so intent on the frequency of my publishing that I rarely felt liberty to do anything that took me away from getting at least one or two links up every day. This was folly.

Food for thought.

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