Friday, May 29, 2009

Independent seeks help in identifying photographs from First World War


The Independent newspaper has published photographs from a veritable 'treasure trove' of more than 400 glass plates found in a French barn. It seems the photographs were taken by a local French photographer of British Tommies on their way to the front. Many of them probably died in action. Its thought the soldiers paid to have their photograph taken and for it then to be posted to their relatives back in Britain.

The galss plates were found more than 90 years after they were taken and were almost thrown out as rubbish. However, they were rescued and have been lovingly repaired, scanned and digitally restored by two French photographers.

If you would like to see the images visit the Independent's site at

If you think you recognise any of the subjects or can answer some of the questions posed by the photographs visit

Credit for the images seeing the light of day must go to two local men: Bernard Gardin, aged 60, a photography enthusiast; and Dominique Zanardi, 49, proprietor of the "Tommy" café at Pozières, a village in the heart of the Somme battlefields. M. Gardin was given a batch of about 270 glass plates by someone who knew of his hobby. He approached M. Zanardi, who has a collection of Great War memorabilia, including a football dug up 12 years ago inside a British soldier's rucksack. M. Zanardi, it turned out, already had 130 similar plates which he had gathered from other local people. "About three years ago, someone bought a barn near Warloy-Baillon," M. Zanardi said. "They found the glass plates in the loft and just threw them out as rubbish. Many of them were picked up and taken away by passers-by. I started collecting them and had reached over 100 when M. Gardin turned up with this great batch of 270. They must also, originally, have come from the same source. There may be many more out there which we have not yet been found."

M. Gardin and M. Zanardi have had prints made, at their own expense, from the original plates. M. Gardin describes these as "9 x 12 centimetre glass plates, of the kind used at the time by amateur photographers. A professional would have used a camera with bigger plates, 18 centimetres x 24."

Amateur or not, the quality of many of the images turned out to be excellent. Some plates, however, had been damaged. M. Gardin scanned the prints into a computer and set about digitally restoring the images. "If it's just a question of filling in a wall or part of a uniform, it's quite easy," he said. "Faces, and especially eyes, are very tricky."

Prints of more than 100 of the unknown soldiers have now been framed and exhibited in M. Zanardi's café in Pozières. Others will join them when they are ready. M. Zanardi's attempts to identify the photographer and the images of French civilians, and a handful of French soldiers, have got nowhere. "My belief is that he lived close to the barn where the plates were found," he said. "He may have been a farmer. The plates were just stacked up after he printed photographs from them and then forgotten for more than 90 years."

M. Gardin told me: "We think that they form an important, and moving, historical record. Our motive in restoring them was not financial. It was a tribute to all the British soldiers who fought here and also to an unknown photographer."

Identical copies of these images must have been sent home to mothers and wives and sweethearts in late 1915 and the first half of 1916. Will someone out there recognise their Great Grandad or their Great Uncle Bill?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

5th Generation iPod to have built-in camera?

iLounge and others are reporting that the 5th Generation iPod nano will sport a camera. If true, this will confirm earlier reports that this would be the case.

In the past, iLounge has usually been correct when releasing its artist impressions. If it has got it right this time then it will surprise many, with the view that a camera on a nano doesn't make a lot of sense, mainly due to its small size.

What sort of resolution you could squeeze into a nao is anybody's guess (unless the thing is for real and then of course the developers would know!). Also, who would buy one.. after all most mobile phones come with a camera these days, some up to 8MP. Personally, I reckon this is just someone's idea of what is possible but that doesn't mean its likely.

My sense is that Apple has been focused on improving the iPhone and iTouch and that rather than adding a camera ot its nano range it would instead concentrate on improving the storage and perhaps bring the VoiceOver feature across from its new iPod shuffle. This would probably be more useful tahn what could only be a low-res camera.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Photography tips on eHOW site

Memorial DayThe site eHOW has something to say on how to almost anything. Although its US orientated, there's something for most folk, whichever country you live in.

For anyone interested in photography they have a dedicated photography section. There are articles on the following topics:
  • equipment
  • settings
  • technique
  • photography genres
  • photo software
Each article comes with illustrations and are easy to follow, with clear writing backed up with several images per article. I can highly recommend it, so visit now at

Gaming Film Festival Calls for Entries

GameX Animation Festival is seeking film shorts for its upcoming show Oct 23rd to Oct 25th.

There is no fee to enter but there are limited spaces available so get your entry in asap.

They are looking for short animated and live-action films based on video games, comic books, sci-fi or fantasy. Deadline for mailed film entries is Tuesday, September 1.

If your film is accepted, your film title and names of director, producer and writer will be included in their print program and theater signage.

To learn more, e-mail or visit their web site at

Intreresting Greek Artist | Christos Sipsis


Stone Nigh Sipsis
As someone who is interested in the visual image, I am always interested in discovering new artists of every description. Just today I came across a Greek artist called Christos Sipsis who does paintings and drawings (according to his blog... most of its in Greek but that bit is in English, so apologies if any part of this article is incorrect).

I particularly like the image above and so include it as a taster of his work. Check out his blog

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fotolia announce photoXpress - images for free.

Fotolia (the royalty-free stock photo agency) has announced photoXpress, a source of high-quality and royalty-free images and illustrations. The images can be used commercially for free, even in advertising, brochures and magazines.

Membership of the site is free but downloads are limited to 3 a day (10 once you complete your profile). However, there are certain restrictions. These include:
  • can not be used as a logo
  • credit must be given (e.g. Photo copyright
  • images and illustrations cannot be resold
How this will go down with those photographers already upset about falling fees for stock photography is anyone's guess... not very happy in all probability! Personally, I think that its up to the individual. If you as a photographer or graphic artist wish to release some of your work into the wild, so to speak, for free, then that's your prerogative. However, if you wish to be remunerated, that's your choice too, bearing in mind that's its a competitive market. Horses for courses, as we say in the UK.

For more info visit the PhotoXpress site.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pentax reveal K-7 DSLR

Pentax have revealed their K-7 to the world at last. Its list of features make it an attractive proposition for the keen amateur and professional photographer.

Its been a while since Pentax looked like it really belonged up there with Nikon and Canon. Let's hope its back up where it belongs.
  • Durable and functional body, smaller than any other in its class
  • High-rigidity stainless-steel alloy chassis
  • Durable lightweight magnesium-steel alloy housing
  • 77 weather / dustproof seals
  • Cold-resistant construction as low as -10°C
  • Newly designed shutter unit
  • 100% field of view viewfinder
  • 5.2 images per second continuous shooting
  • New DR II (Dust removal) mechanism
  • Unique dust-alert system
  • 14.6 effective megapixel resolution
  • ISO 100 - 6400 range
  • High-performance, high-speed PRIME II imaging engine
  • New 77-segment multi-pattern metering
  • New-generation SR mechanism
  • Live View display with Face Recognition AF
  • HD movie recording
  • New SAFOX VIII+ 11-point wide-frame AF sensor
  • Spotbean AF assist
  • Custom Image function to easily create desired visual effects
  • Hyper Program and manual exposure modes
  • Large 3.0-inch wide-view LCD monitor
  • Powerful rechargeable battery
  • 16 digital filters to add a range of visual effects
  • PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 software package
For me personally, its weather-proofing is an important feature and 77 seals to keep out the weather and dust certainly seems to justify the "Fully weatherproof" tag that Pentax make such a big thing of in their ads. The use of a high-strength stainless steel alloy body shuld also make it durable and able to take the punishment that a professional would give it over its working life, which is more than can be said of some of the plastic DSLRs around at the moment.

Personally, the 100% field of view through the viewfinder is an attractive feature as I hate not seeing the whole picture, literally. The continuous shooting speed of 5.2 images per second is another pro feature to shut about. So far, its looking pretty good. it looks even better with the resolution of 14.6 MP, HD movie mode, IS, 77-segment multi-pattern metering, 11 sensor points (inc nine cross-type ones, more than average) and a large 3.0 inch LCD with 920,000 pixels. Using the Live View function, the LCD can be viewed from @170 degrees vertically and horizontally.

The HD movie mode is 1280 x 720 at 30 frames a second, so not the highest but nefvertheless a very handy and attractive feature to have. Add to that the provision of an input for an external microphone makes it, on paper at least, a very capable replacement for a camcorder.

All in all, a very attractive package. All we need to know now is the price. $1300 for the body is being quoted on US web-sites.

Buy your Pentax camera gear here!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sony announces 3 new DSLRs | α230, α330 and α280

Sony has announced the latest additions to its DSLR range, the A230, A330 and A380.

• Three new easy-to-use DSLR cameras:

- α230 (10.2 megapixels* and 2.7-inch LCD)
- α330 (10.2 megapixels* and 2.7-inch tilt LCD)
- α380 (14.2 megapixels* and 2.7-inch tilt LCD)
• Compact, stylish body for light, comfortable handling
• Quick AF Live View with tilt LCD for freestyle shooting with fast, accurate autofocus and live preview**
• On-screen Help Guide and Graphic Display simplifies operation
• SteadyShot™ INSIDE image stabilisation for crisper handheld shots with any α lens
• HDMI output and BRAVIA Sync for easy connection with BRAVIA™ TV

* effective megapixels
** excludes model α230


Sony bill the A230 as the world's lightest DSLR featuring an APS-C sized sensor and in-body image stabilisation. its likely the introduction by Panasonic of its new Micro Four-Thirds G1 and GH1 range has played its part in Sony attempting to continue building its market share.

The A230 features are:
  • 10.2 MP sensor with 9 points with centre cross sensor (3872 x 2592)
  • Continuous, Single Shot, Automatic, Manual Focus AF Modes
  • JPEG, RAW, RAW + JPEG and 16:9 selectable recording formats
  • 2.7 LCD (non-tilting) 230,400 pixels
  • SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation
  • HDMI output
  • Scene Selection modes (Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Night view, Sunset, B/W, AdobeRGB)
  • Dynamic Range Optimiser
  • On-screen help guide
  • Dual format memory card slots (Memory Stick Pro & SD/SDHC)
  • 2.5 fps continuous shooting (JPEG until card full; RAW 6 images; RAW + JPEG 3 images)

The A330 is the first of the new models to feature a tilt LCD, making it more appealing than its little brother the A230.

Features include:
  • 10.2 MP APS-C sensor with 9 points with centre cross sensor (3872 x 2592)
  • Continuous, Single Shot, Automatic, Manual Focus AF Modes
  • JPEG, RAW, RAW + JPEG and 16:9 selectable recording formats
  • 2.7 LCD (non-tilting) 230,400 pixels
  • Quick AF Live View
  • SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation
  • HDMI output
  • Scene Selection modes (Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Night view, Sunset, B/W, AdobeRGB)
  • On-screen help guide
  • Dual format memory card slots (Memory Stick Pro & SD/SDHC)
  • 3 fps shooting (2 fps in Live Mode)
  • ISO 100 - 3200 equivalent
  • Dual Anti-Dust System (anti-static coating and CCD shift mechanism)
  • Exposure compensation (+/-2.0 EV, 0.3 EV step)
  • AE Bracketing with 0.3 EV / 0.7 EV increments, 3 frames; (in "Drive mode setting")
  • Shutter speed 1/4000 - 30 secs and Bulb
  • Flash Sync speed 1/160 sec
  • Built-in Flash Guide No. 10
  • Field of View 95%
  • Noise Reduction modes (Long Exposure amd High ISO modes)
  • Battery life - Approx 510 images peak performance (CIPA rating) 230 in Live View


The A380 continues in the same vein.

It features:
  • 14.2 MP APS-C sensor 9 points with centre cross sensor (4592 x 3056)
  • 2.7 inch LCD (tilting) 230,400 pixels
  • Quick AF Live View
  • SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation
  • HDMI output
  • Scene Selection modes (Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Night view, Sunset, B/W, AdobeRGB)
  • On-screen help guide
  • Dual format memory card slots (Memory Stick Pro & SD/SDHC)
  • 3 fps shooting (2 fps in Live Mode)
  • ISO 100 - 3200 equivalent
  • Dual Anti-Dust System (anti-static coating and CCD shift mechanism)
  • Exposure compensation (+/-2.0 EV, 0.3 EV step)
  • AE Bracketing with 0.3 EV / 0.7 EV increments, 3 frames; (in "Drive mode setting")
  • Shutter speed 1/4000 - 30 secs and Bulb
  • Flash Sync speed 1/160 sec
  • Built-in Flash Guide No. 10
  • Field of View 95%
  • Noise Reduction modes (Long Exposure amd High ISO modes)
  • Battery life - Approx 500 images peak performance (CIPA rating) and 230 in Live View
In terms of prices, are selling the A230 with the kit lens (18-55 mm f3.5-5.6) for £400.00 inc VAT and the A380 for £649.00 inc. same lens kit.

Digital SLR Camera | Canon, Nikon, EOS, Olympus. Pentax, Samsung - Sony - Warehouse Express

Saturday, May 16, 2009

VMWare issue warning to Fusion users not to install latest OX 10.5.7 update

VMWare has issued a warning to users of its virtualization software, Fusion, not to install the latest update for Leopard from Apple.
here is the text of its message:

A Message to VMware Fusion Users with Macs that have ATI Graphics Cards about Apple's Mac OS X Update 10.5

Picture 1Apple released the Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update yesterday, and I know many of you are eager to try it out. However, if your Mac has an ATI graphics card (MacPro or iMac), and you rely on VMware Fusion's 3D Acceleration feature to run either Windows games or other Windows 3D applications in your virtual machines, we recommend that you do not upgrade your Mac to 10.5.7.

We are making this recommendation because the ATI driver in Mac OS X 10.5.7 breaks the 3D acceleration feature in VMware Fusion. You will likely see issues ranging from slow performance, to incorrect rendering, and even crashes, when you run your 3D applications in a Windows virtual machine on Mac OS X 10.5.7.

Both Apple and ATI are aware of this problem and are working to correct it in a future software update. In the meantime, if you have an ATI graphics card in your Mac and need VMware Fusion's 3D features to work, we recommend that you do not upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5.7.

Stay tuned to the Team Fusion blog and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

Update May-14:
Many of you asked this so I thought I would clarify. The ATI driver issue only affects 3D functionality in VMware Fusion. If your Windows applications do not need 3D, it will run just fine under VMware Fusion on Mac OS X 10.5.7. If you are sure you do not need 3D, you can turn off 3D Acceleration in Virtual Machine Settings and upgrade to 10.5.7.
To turn off 3D in Fusion:

  1. Power off your Virtual Machine
  2. Select "Settings" under Virtual Machine menu
  3. In the Settings window, click "Display"
  4. Uncheck "Accelerate 3D Graphics
Otehr Mac users have also reported issues with the update including their Macs freezing up with a BSOD (blue screen of death) and problems downloading the update in the first palce. Messages have posted on Apple's support forums detailing numerous problems. Many are criticising Apple for botching the latest update. How quickly Apple will resolve these issues remains to be seen. Best advice is not to install the update just yet and instead keep a close eye on the forums and elsewhere.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Smiling Guinea-Pig Image on Fotolia Stock Library

My best-selling image on Fotolia is one of our pet guinea-pig (cavia porcellus) standing in a plastic tub (he was having a bath) and smiling into the camera. pretty cute!

He was such a cute little character (sadly passed on now) and we enjoyed him greatly. At the time the kids were quite young and he was very much a part of the family.

Guinea-pigs is regarded as a household family pet in Western societies, having been brought to Europe in the 16th Century by traders, from South America. Uncomfortable for most Westerners, they are an important food source in many aprts of South America, as well having a role in folk medicine and religious ceremonies.

Fotolia is the first worldwide social marketplace for royalty free stock images, allowing individuals and professionals to legally buy and share stock images and illustrations.

Fotolia offers the largest image bank of free and affordable royalty free photos and illustrations perfect for any medium, web or print.

Photographers and designers constantly update Fotolia with thousands of new photos and illustrations each day, while photographers and designers receive commission from each photo sold and revenue from advertising on the free section.

You can purchase the image from Fotolia here and any of my other images on Fotolia from here

Friday, May 08, 2009

Win a $25,000 dream trip!

Condé Nast is offering a Grand Prize of a $25,000 trip to anywhere you wish. In addition, the prize winner will receive the expert advice from Condé Nast staff to create their dream itinerary. Competition is open now but only for US and Canadian citizens (except Quebec).

Prizes ›

› Win a $25,000 Dream Trip to anywhere in the world!
› Win a five-night trip for two to Italy's Hotel Cala di Volpe
› Win one of ten Sony α DSLR-A350k cameras
see prize details

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Record any audio on your Mac using Audio Hijack Pro by rogue amoeba

icon One of my favourite programs is Audio Hijack pro from rogue amoeba software. You can use it to easily record audio from iTunes, Skype, a DVD playing or external equipment such as microphones.

With its classy UI it is easy to get to grips with and operation is simplicity itself. It features ID3 tag editing, VOIP recording (Skype & iChat), an Application Mixer to capture audio from more than one application source and can be used to digitize your records and tapes. You can edit your captured audio to remove sections of audio, split your audio tracks and use auto stop to cease recording when silence occurs.

You can also use it to produce podcasts and save in MP3, AAC, Apple Loss;ess and AIFF formats. Yu can easily organise your audio using the Recording Bin feature, send your recordings to iTunes and use AppleScripts to customize your workflow. It is compatible with hundreds of VST and AU plugins, has over 50 built-in effects and precise level meters, VU meters and menu bar meters.

Winner of 5 Mice from Macuser UK, it costs just $32 and is available now from rogue amoeba here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

PhotoLegal announces Podcasts on legal issues for photographers

PhotoLegal have started offering free podcasts on legal issues affecting photographers. You can download it via their site here. Of course, if you intend to be a regular subscriber, you can also subscribe via iTunes or RSS

Latest topics covered on their site include:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Microsoft don't tell the whole truth!

Image via CrunchBase
Many folk have seen the latest video ad by Microsoft knocking Macs and trying to convince potential purchasers that Macs aren't up to the job. The video features a woman called Sheila looking for a laptop on which to edit video. She describes herself as an independent film-maker. What isn't clear is whether she is a real person and therefore genuinely looking for a laptop on which she can really edit her films. This is an important point but not clear from the ad.

Why is it important? Well, if she is an actor then why should we pay any credence to her actual choice... after all, as an actor she is unlikely to be an independent film-maker and therefore has little or no idea of what video-editing requires in terms of hardware or software. More on this in a minute. If she is really an independent filmmaker, then we have the right to ask a few pertinent questions. Like, why is there no mention of what video-editing software she is intending to use? Anyone who knows anything about editing video knows that your choice of software affects which computer platform you will need.. Apple's industry-standard software will of course only run on a Mac, whilst you can run pc software on a Mac via Boot Camp, Parallels or Fusion. So, the fact that she is looking at both Macs and pc laptops means she hasn't finalized her choice of software, putting the proverbial cart before the horse so to speak!

Now, looking at her final choice, TUAW points out that she actually chooses a laptop that doesn't compare well with the Mac she rejected. It has less screen resolution (1366x768 compared to the Mac's 1440x900) and its RAM is slower (DDR2 compared to the Macs DDR3). Looking at other features (comparing the base configuration of the Macbook Pro to that of the HP HDX16t), we can see that the Mac also has a better spec for the following:
  • Processor - Mac 2.44GHz (15") or 2.66GHZ (17") compared to HDX16t 2.2GHz. Only the top-end model has a 2.93GHz cpu
  • Graphics card(s) - Mac has 2 cards (9600 GT & 9400M) whilst HP has one (9600 GT or GT 130M)
So, we can see that the ad really tells us very little, except that Sheila is not a good example for us to follow!

BeatMaker 1.3.3 released

Intua have updated their BeatMaker app to version 1.3.3 and it is now available on the iTunes AppStore. beatmaker is a mobile music creation application for the iPhone and iTouch.Using BeatMaker creative tools, you can compose, record, arrange, and tweak live your ideas into a complete song, ready to be shared with others.

Features list

★ 16 sample-based trigger pads, with multi-touch support (up to 5 pads at once)

★ Low latency playback and sample-accurate audio engine

★ Live pattern recording and arranging

★ Audio recording from microphone or headset (iPhone and iPod Touch 2nd gen only)

★ Step sequencer with different resolutions for easy and precise pattern creation

★ Change the volume, pan, groove and pitch of each steps to compose rich melodies and beats

★ Multi track song sequencer: manage easily your patterns into complete songs

★ Create unlimited number of patterns of different sizes (one to four bar)

★ Export your songs to Audio file (WAV) and MIDI score and share them with your friends

★ Original sound library provided with multiple genres: BreakBeat, Drum & Bass, Dub, Electronica, Funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rock and more to come !

★ Featured artist/producer sound library: Richard Devine, Man Parrish, Jacque Polynice, Rafiralfiro, ...

★ AIFF and WAVE audio file support (any sample rate, 8 to 24-bits resolutions)

★ Network sharing capabilities via BeatPack, to upload and download content

★ 2 effect channels with 4 effects on each with bypass control

★ Synchronized delays with feedback and wet-mix control

★ 3-band Equalizers (Lo, Mid, Hi)

★ "Bit-Crusher" for down-sampling and bits resolution reduction

★ Lowpass, Hi-pass and Bandpass filters

★ Transport toolbar for quick playback control, with BPM, signature and metronome support

★ Handy selection mode to control multiple parameters on pads at once

★ Individual/multiple loading of samples

★ Automatic sample slicing over the pads (Chop)

★ Control volume, pan, semi-tone, octave, tuning, fade in/out and sample start/end positions on each pad

★ Wave editor permits to manually selects your samples Start/End position markers

★ Automatic change of sample pitch to match a particular sample duration for each pad

★ Output channel selection (3 buses available: Main Out, FX 1, FX 2) for each pad

★ Mute and Reverse samples during your performances

★ X/Y Cross Controller for live manipulation of combined effect and sample parameters

★ Loading and saving of your kits & projects

★ File browser for file management (load, save, new files, directory and delete) and BeatPack content management (upload, download)

★ Auto discovery of local BeatPack servers (via Bonjour)

★ Sample preview within the browser

★ Auto-saving of your current project

★ Import sounds created from

★ and much more...

Price is £11.99

Apple to redefine Mobile Video?

Image via CrunchBase
Is about to introduce mobile video editing on the iPhone? According to Peter Burrows of BusinessWeek on April 30 they could be abut to do just that. Apple recently introduced its iPhone 3.0 software and according to sources like Gizmodo, the evidence is buried in the new iPhone software.

With the growing popularity of mobile video (think of the Flip) it would be logical next move for Apple. After all, they completely dominate the portable audio market with the iPod, they have revolutionised the mobile gaming market with the iPhone and the iTouch and they are leading the way with the iPhone as regards the mobile smart-phone market. Remember too that the various hacks out there to enhance the iPhone's capabilities as regards stills and video are evidence of pent-up demand.

So, just think of how great it would be have a simple way of shooting video, edit on your iPhone and then send it to your mother! Apple may be about to make that dream a reality.

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