Photography

Nikon Photomicrography Competition

Nikon Photomicrography Competition

I’m not fond of photography competitions (quite subjective) but this is an incredible collection of images from this year (2018) all the way back to 1975 when the competition started. Have fun pouring through images the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before.

Photomicrography is quite different from macro photography in that a microscope is used where in macro a 1:1 lens is used. This is small stuff.

[via The Loop]

Earthrise

Earthrise

I keep trying to embed NY Times video but can’t seem to do it with WordPress. Just follow the link…

This is an incredible piece put together by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee for The New York Times about how the now infamous earthrise image came about. It’s a long time ago but what a magnificent achievement (to put men on the moon).

[via Kottke.org]

Wildlife photography in Finland

This is an incredible video documenting Morten Hilmer spending 15 hours in a photo blind on the Finland/Russia border.

Morten has a youTube channel with lots of other amazing videos: Morten Hilmer: Wildlife Photography.

There are many things to like about the video and the post where I found it up on PetaPixel:

I can feel Morten’s excitement, wonder, and awe of being in that blind and being so close to amazing things. We live in a rural place and have bears, foxes, bobcats, hawks, and other large wild animals come close to the house and it excites us just as much after 25 years of it. It’s thrilling and Morton’s post and video allow us to experience that.

The video and images are wonderful and the narration works well. Just enough music but not overly dramatic, the animals and situation provide more than enough drama without overdoing it with music.

What caught my attention was Morten’s comment about going from Nikon to Canon and not having enough familiarity with the Canon body to use it without thinking. This is a crucial point for folks who regularly consider sea changes of gear and it’s true for any kind of tool we use frequently. Car dashes come to mind.

Berlin marathon

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Flickr member Peter Herd used a Ricoh GR to capture runners in Berlin. If you click through to Peter’s Flickr post, you’ll see this was shot at a shutter speed of 1 second. Given that the buildings and tower are so sharp I would think he had a tripod or braced his camera on something. It’s a great effect and he has other examples of it as well.

Postage Stamps

Stamp 1

I read a piece in the New York Times the other day: An Inverted Jenny Surfaces. The Flawed Stamp Had Not Been Seen Since 1918 and it got me thinking about my own stamp collection (and yes, I was hoping I might have another copy of the inverted Jenny).

My late father inherited his father’s and his uncle’s stamp collection and I inherited my father’s collection and his younger brother’s. The stamps in these various collections are spectacular: both U.S. and lots of other countries. My father liked French, Belgian, and English colonies in Africa and I have many of those (see above and below), his father liked U.S. commemoratives and air mail stamps. The collections are far ranging and fascinating as many countries represented don’t exist anymore. So, collections like this one are a wormhole into a time that’s long gone, except for Wikipedia and the like.

I merged all the collections into fewer albums and kept it up until I went away to college in 1971. The collection was in my mother’s house until she died in 2016, then I had to bring it home.

There were two large boxes of albums, tools, smaller boxes of loose stamps, some of them needing to be soaked off of envelopes. You see, even though I wasn’t actively collecting since 1971, I was still corresponding with people all over the world and when I got envelopes back with interesting postage I tossed it in a box.

Last year I went down to New York and the Javits Center for a big philatelic (stamp) show. It was mind boggling and fun although one thing I learned for sure: stamp collecting is out of vogue and my collection is probably not worth much to anyone except me.

What to do with all of these great stamps?

Understand that not only are these stamps pieces of history, many of them are also marvels of printmaking and they’re beautiful as art objects.

Besides my now old and musty stamp collection (I have to take an antihistamine when I open one of the boxes) I also collect matchbooks and boxes, and many other pieces of interesting ephemera.

A while back I posted a video on Collectors and collections and another on Jane McDevitt’s Eastern European matchbox labels which sort of zero in on what I’ve decided to do with my stamps.

I was all set to set up my camera on a tripod and photograph stamps but then I realized that my flatbed scanner would do a better job and it would be a lot easier.

So, I experimented and came up with a process that I think works. Feel free to comment with ways to make this better.

1. Clean stamp (blow it off to get dust and hair off).

2. Clean scanner glass (scanner is an inexpensive Canon Lide 220).

3. Place stamps on scanner with enough space between them (white space) to rotate them to straiten once scanned.

4. I use MacOS and I don’t like Canon’s software so I use Apple’s Image Capture to run my scanner. Settings are Color, Millions of colors, 1000dpi, JPEG.

5. Run overview scan, then scan each stamp with enough border so as to straighten it later.

6. Drag all the scans into Apple Photos.

7. Crop and straighten, adjust white balance, enhance color if needed.

8. Export at full size JPEG.

9. Drag each stamp into Preview, choose “Show Markup Toolbar” then use the “Instant Alpha” tool (the magic wand on the left) to drag over the stamp’s background to make it transparent. One has to be careful with lighter colored stamps to not “leak” into the body of the stamp. This takes practice. Practice on copies. Alternatively use Photoshop or Pixelmator do do the same with dedicated tools.

10. Save the stamp as a JPEG and you’re done.

I reached into a box and pulled out a few hundred stamps of various kinds that weren’t mounted. These are just a random sample of French and Belgian colonies from the 1900’s. I have thousands of these from Africa, the Pacific islands, and other places that were colonized at the time. Not to mention all sorts of other stamps. This is my start…

Stamp 30

Stamp 21

Stamp 60

Stamp 50

Stamp 5

Stamp 2

Stamp 6

Stamp 3

Stamp 4