Steve Huff reviews the Sony Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE lens →

April 28, 2015 |

He seems to like it:

But one thing remains a constant with this lens. It delivers the goods each and every time I bring it out or use it. From deep rich color, to beautiful black and white to nice creamy bokeh (background blur) that will not give you a headache, this lens shows what the Sony A7 system is capable of. I have tried the Sigma Art lenses. I have shot with the Canon 35L on a 5DII, I have shot with the Nikon 35 1.4 on a D800 as well as the Zeiss ZF 35 1.4. I have owned and shot with the Leica 35 1.4 Summilux, all versions. It is safe to say that I have had great experience with all full frame 35 1.4 lenses.

This Sony is the best one I have ever used for my tastes as it does everything right. Period. The one that comes closest is the Zeiss 35 1.4 Zf, then the Sigma Art 35 1.4. Last place would be the Canon 35L as it is getting a but (sic) long in the tooth, even when used on a 5DII or III.

I have a small confession to make: lately I’ve been thinking about building a full-frame system, and I’ve been torn between the Canon 6D and the Sony A7II ever since the latter was released. With 35mm being my favorite focal length, this certainly doesn’t make things any easier for me — or my wallet.

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An honest college rejection letter →

April 27, 2015 |

Mimi Evans, writing at McSweeney’s:

While we consider applicants from all backgrounds who excel both in and out of the classroom, we really want student savants who relentlessly pursue a single instrument, sport, or other activity. Unless you have written a New York Times bestseller, won first place in the Intel Science Fair, or cured type 1 diabetes using only solar power and a tampon string, we’ll put you at the bottom of the pool.

Sounds like a nice college.

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Erin Brooks on capturing childhood →

April 27, 2015 |

Erin Brooks:

Remember when unabashed laughter was a daily occurrence? An enveloping hug could cure pain? Remember when friendship was pure? The feeling of loving openly, before you’d ever been hurt? To really believe that if you just swung high enough, you could go all the way around the swing set bar? A time before worry? When there was no safer place than nestled in your parents’ arms? That any wish, if just wished hard enough, just might come true? When PJs, a super hero cape, and a tutu were acceptable regular-day wardrobe choices? That the best days involved playing with dirt? That Summer had a smell?

The most humble, honest comment I can make on Erin’s beautiful article is that it makes me wish for the day I can take pictures of my own kids. Here’s hoping.

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Fraser Speirs on presenting with Apple Watch →

April 27, 2015 |

Never in a million years would it have occurred to me to use Apple Watch as a presenting aid. I mean, you’d think there are enough things distracting you already when you’re on stage.

The funny thing is, apparently it works, and it works well. Although I found it funny that Fraser actually recommends taking the watch off when using it as a remote:

You want to have the face of the watch nestling in your cupped fingers. The same place you’d interact with a TV remote or a more traditional presenter’s remote. I found that taking the watch off, re-closing the sport band and placing three fingers through the band, in the way that you might pick up a watch to look at it, was an effective way to hold it. The most important thing here is that you don’t distract your audience by fiddling to switch slides and you don’t make a mistake when navigating.

I seriously doubt this is the usage pattern Apple had in mind when designing the Keynote watch app but hey, whatever works.

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Jason Snell’s initial reactions to the Apple Watch →

April 27, 2015 |

With the first deliveries of Apple Watch taking place towards the end of last week, it was Apple Watch weekend all over the Internet. Out of the many people who posted their initial thoughts, I particularly enjoyed Jason Snell’s take:

This is a new product. Like, a really new product. It’s not like any product I’ve used before, though it has echoes of my old Pebble and of iOS devices, of course. But my built-up skills in using iOS were no use to me when I started using the Apple Watch. This is not a tiny iPhone on my wrist. This is something new.

It might be good. It’s certainly impressive. But it’s new, and it’s going to take some time to figure out quite what it all means.

I think this is what confuses people the most about Apple Watch. We don’t yet have a way to judge it because it’s so unlike any other product before it — let alone any other Apple product.

Apple Watch will continue to confuse many people, irk quite a few, and hopefully amaze the rest. It may well be the next big thing, but it’s still too soon to tell.

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My high-school years in Internet headlines →

April 24, 2015 |

Sam Apple, The New Yorker:

They Said He Would Never Convince Steve Cooper’s Sister to Go to the Prom With Him; Their Assessment Could Not Possibly Have Been More Accurate


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The “Nail Houses” of China →

April 24, 2015 |

Fantastic photo essay by Alan Taylor for The Atlantic:

Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface so-called “nail houses”. These properties, standing alone amid the ruins of other buildings, belong to owners who have stood their ground and resisted demolition. Defiant property owners say the compensation being offered is too low. Some of them have remained in their homes for years as their court cases drag on and new construction continues all around them. A few homeowners have won their fights, but most have lost. Meanwhile, these nail houses have become powerful symbols of resistance against the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

It’s unreal, but this is how far people are willing to go to protect their homes.

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Waterfall Season →

April 24, 2015 |

Jordan Steele, having lots of fun shooting waterfalls:

Spring is in the air, and the world is turning green once again. Spring is also the time when many waterfalls tend to run at their fullest, so now is an ideal time for photographing waterfalls. I’ve taken advantage of some of the flow already, though a few weeks more will bring brighter and more lush vegetation surrounding these lovely natural features.

If you haven’t tried your hand at shooting waterfalls, or are looking for some help in getting the most out your waterfall photos, here are some important things to keep in mind.

There are some really useful tips in this piece about the proper use of tripods, polarizing and neutral density filters, etc. These are essential tools that can make quite a huge difference in your images, and the gorgeous examples in Jordan’s article make an excellent job of showing their real-world benefits:

Now, take a look at the result with a polarizing filter. The processing on the two images is nearly identical (I did some finer color correction on the one below, since it was the one I finalized for print). The glare on the rocks is gone, showing the texture of the stone. The glare on the water is also gone, allowing the blue color of the water to shine through as well as extra detail in the sandstone gorge bottom. The overall effect is striking.

Striking, indeed. If you enjoy shooting natural landscapes, the polarizing filter should be your best friend.

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