Photographing an Eclipse
I've done a lot of night photography, and been known to shoot the moon, literally, but was taken with the idea, in an article, of photographing a solar eclipse
. Personally, were I readying myself to head to Siberia or the North Pole (where the viewing is supposed to be particularly good), I'd probably set up both digital and
film cameras to get all the advantage I could. As the author says, the only way to really get a good image, and not just glare behind a black disk, is to use mathematical modeling, which is similar to what the human vision does in registering differences in illumination and then turning that, via the brain, into an image.
The article's author is an academic who has done a lot of research and whose web site has some astoundingly good eclipse photos
Labels: astrophotography, digital, film
Is Edison Murder Charge a "Phone" Phoney?
Update at Bottom
A patent email list to which I subscribe (I often write about intellectual property) had mentioned an article that appeared in the magazine Materials Today about the alleged murder of the real inventor of movies
, Louis Le Prince, who was the first to record moving images on film. But on reading the "evidence," I was immediately suspicious that I had a complete fake in front of me. So blatant was the hoax that I could hardly believe that an editor didn't immediately start questioning.
Author Atreyee Gupta reports on research by a University of New York graduate student, Alexis Bedford, who supposedly claims to have found evidence in Edison's own handwriting that he at least had knowledge of LePrince's murder:
As Bedford relates it, he was turning over some papers on Thomas Edison's work with lighting methods when he stumbled across a dilapidated leatherbound book. The book would turn out to be one of many notebooks in which Edison was fond of jotting down ideas and test data. "Leafing through it," explained Bedford, "I merely thought I'd find perhaps some interesting and as yet unknown processes that Edison had tried in the laboratory. I never thought I would stumble upon this!" He had found a small entry dated September 20, 1890 by Edison's own hand which read, "Eric called me today from Dijon. It has been done. Prince is no more. This is good news, but I flinched when he told me. Murder is not my thing. I'm an inventor and my inventions for moving images can now move forward."
Supposedly Bedford was granted permission to get the document authenticated by historian Robert E. Myre at New York University, who eventually said that it was an authentic entry in Edison's own hand.
But this startling story could well be a fake. Look at the language "Eric called me today from Dijon." In 1890? The first transatlantic telephone call happened in 1918. In the parlance of the time, he might have been "cabled" or someone might have "telegraphed," but not called. Next: "Murder is not my thing." My thing? How 1960s/1970s can you get? Searching at nyu.org, I found a David Myre and a Greg Myre, but not a Robert E. I didn't find a listing for an Alexis Bedford, either.
I've got an email in to the magazine's editor and assistant editor and am interested to see if this item even ran in the publication, or whether the entire thing was faked from first to last. If by some chance it is real, I'll see if they can put me in touch with the author. But the longer I look at this, the farther I feel my leg being stretched.
Updated: 16-6-08, 1:07 pm EST
I finally reached Katerina Busuttil, assistant editor at Materials Today. Apparently the magazine had run a scientific writing contest. Here is what she said about this, the winning entry:
We cannot confirm it truth or false. But we thought it was a good piece of writing and we chose it as the winner. It was just a good piece of writing, which is why it won the competition.
Although this is a peer-reviewed journal, because they treated the piece as pure opinion, they did not investigate its veracity.
Let's recap on the truth issue (which took one reading and a few checks on the web, plus some added telephone calls for additional checking):
- The first transatlantic telephone call happened 1918. This incident supposedly happened in 1890 and referred to a phonecall between France and the US.
- At the time, people would have referred to being cabled or telegraphed, not called.
- The research supposedly happened at the New York Library - presumably the New York Public Library. Yet the archives of the Edison National Historic Site - all 5 million pages - rest at Rutgers in New Jersey. According to the NYPL's web site, there are 64 collections that have a mention of "Edison," but none are collections of his papers
- Only an idiot would have written in his journal about his involvment in a murder conspiracy. Edison was no idiot.
- I've found no evidence of a Charlene Edmonds employed at the New York Public Library.
- There is no "University of New York," although New York University and State University of New York (SUNY) both exist.
- There is no Robert E. Myre employed at New York University, according to someone in the administration who looked up the informaiton. Because of legal restrictions, the person could not say whether an Alexis Bedford was enrolled as a graduate student studying chemistry and photography.
- I went to the suny.edu web site, checked online for the name Myre, and found no search results. Checking on Google, I looked for SUNY combined with either "Robert E. Myre" or "Robert Myre". The one match I got was for someone who graduated in 1962 and was in Sigma Phi Epsilon.
- The magazine cannot pass on the author's contact information, though said they would forward an email seeking to reach her.
In short, this seems like a completely fabricated story with no more relation to the truth than a goat has to a guppy: any connection would be purely accidental.
Labels: film, movies, technology
World Pinhole Photography Day
Ever hear about pinhole photography
, where a tiny opening replaces a lens and you use incredibly long exposures with virtually unlimited depth of field? Well, seems that there's a Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day
coming up April 28. There are workshops being held all around the world. Time to strike a blow for obsolescence. I might just have to dig out one of my view cameras, get a pinhole attachment, and shoot some B&W, though you can make a pinhole camera out of an old oatmeal box
Labels: events, film, pinhole
Think Like a Film Shooter
When I was first learning photography, it was with ancient cameras and roll film that I developed at home. I was a kid without a large allowance, so I couldn't be extravagant in my use of film. Instead, I'd look for the shots I really wanted.
Digital photography opens some great doors: low cost per image, quick gratification, and ability to manipulate images, whether b&w or color. But one thing people today are missing is visual discipline. You can take hundreds of images without thinking about whether you have enough film. When you are limited, you have to be judicious; you learn to get by with only a handful of shots that must count.
It's a good discipline worth trying. Go out to take pictures and limit yourself to 24 or 36 shots - and add a twist by using only a normal lens and make your eyes get creative.
Labels: composition, digital, film
Viacom Claims Filmmaker Infringed His Own Copyright
This is one of those stories that can only make you scratch your head in wonder. An independent filmmaker in North Carolina blogged about an interesting situation copyright situation:
[M]ultimedia giant Viacom is claiming that I have violated their copyright by posting on YouTube a segment from it's VH1 show Web Junk 2.0... which VH1 produced – without permission – from a video that I had originally created.
Apparently Christopher Knight was running for a local board of education seat and created a commercial in which a Death Star blew up a little red school house. Viacom was amused enough to run it on national television without asking. But the humor quickly ended when Knight, who enjoyed the segment about himself, put it on YouTube. Only in the entertainment industry.
Labels: copyright, film, infringement, Knight, Viacom, YouTube
Technique: Shooting Fireworks
On the Fourth of July, fireworks are in order. With an easy technique, you can get professional-looking shots of the bursts. You'll need a tripod, camera that allows manual adjustments, and a cable release (to avoid jarring the camera). This will work with either film or digital cameras:Place the camera on the tripod. Watch at least one firework explosion to see where in the sky they take place.
Set the aperture to f/5.6.
Attach a remote release. (This isn't absolutely necessary, but you do run the risk of adding blur to the final image if you're pressing the button on the camera.)
Set the shutter so that it will stay open until you release it. Depending on the camera and setting, this could mean that you either press the remote release twice, with the second time closing the shutter, or you press and hold it to keep the shutter open and release it to close the shutter.
Listen for the sound of the next firework going up. When you hear it, open the shutter and keep it open until the burst is complete.
Close the shutter.
Make sure that the lens you're using covers the area in the sky with a little room to spare, because you probably don't want to cut off parts of the image.
Labels: digital, film, fireworks, technique