Revolutionary Camera Technologies?

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(Source – pixabay.com, used under CCO license.)

I saw the following article on the online magazine Wired recently.

http://www.wired.com/2015/11/panasonic-cameras-get-a-shoot-now-and-focus-later-feature/

Panasonic has introduced a feature in some existing cameras via a software download that lets you take a single picture at multiple focal points almost simultaneously so that the person can pick a desired focal point for presentation to the viewer after the fact.  Some existing cameras have had this kind of a feature in the sense of taking a picture at a few (two or three) focal lengths one after another, but this Panasonic feature apparently takes this kind of capability to the next level.  Indeed, what is needed in existing cameras to implement this kind of a feature is plenty of speed and a lot of storage.

I somehow feel that this is a half-baked solution to a very interesting problem of capturing pictures in their truest form so that they are suitable for post-processing to any desired set of parameters for presentation.  In fact, this is the technology that will eventually revolutionize the field of photography and allow even devices like smartphones to take pictures that in presentation will far superior to those generated from traditional cameras.  They will allow a much greater level of creativity than with the existing optical technology.

Welcome to the field of plenoptic  or light-field technology!  There are experiments in this realm that are still not completely mature or suitable for use by consumers at this time, but I think that something along these lines will be coming some time in the future.

http://petapixel.com/2010/09/23/the-first-plenoptic-camera-on-the-market/

http://www.wired.com/2015/11/lytro-refocuses-to-create-a-groundbreaking-vr-camera/

And then there is Wavefront coding….

Perhaps I was very naive about what it was all about when I took up photography, but years of experience have taught me that this hobby is not just about capturing the image as seen by an observer.   It is about creating the visual and mental impact that you desire with the picture that you present. Towards this goal, today, you end up using all kinds of technology in the camera, and outside of it in post-processing, to create the impact that one wants.  Even the most basic picture that you see today has probably undergone some kind of “processing”, either optically, or electronically, or in software.  What we call artistry is trying to use the technology that is available to us, be it the simple paint-brushes, or the cameras, or the electronic devices, or the software, to create the impact we wish.    Of course, we will always argue about the amount of “reality” in the product that is being produced based on the amount of creativity that is used in the presentation, but I think it is becoming more and more an argument about the degree of processing, not about the presence or absence of processing.

When you look at the possibility of new technologies emerging for capturing images, and then this technology becoming a part of the mainstream, such events will actually open up the field of photography to new techniques for artistry in picture presentations.  We will have a new generation of artists using newly invented image capturing and processing devices and techniques who will call themselves photographers, who will have no concept of what photography meant to the pioneers in this field.  Photoshopping is just the beginning.  Even the term “camera” may become passe.  Analog cameras anybody?!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio

I call this one Larry, Curly and Moe.

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This picture was taken soon after.  I am not sure if they are the same birds.  (Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!)

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Moving on to a different kind of theme, here are two pictures from an airport in the US. (Guess which one!)

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And finally there is this pair for sentimental reasons.  Love you guys!Trio

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Submitted for this week’s challenge.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Autumn Treats

Something crazy happens to me every autumn season.  It usually happens when the colors of the leaves on the trees are changing, when the leaves begin to fall to the ground.  I am so taken in by the change that is going on that I start taking plenty of of pictures.  It does not matter that I have gone through a similar experience of autumn many times over many years. It does not matter that I have taken pictures of the changing scene almost every year.  It does not matter that I am actually seeing all of this change in the area around my home, so that it is more than likely not a new experience.  It does not matter that I tell myself that I have seen and done this stuff before, and that there is probably nothing new for me to record.

The craziness manifests itself in ways that are unique to the season.  I end up placing my camera in the car where ever I happen to be going during the daytime, regardless of the purpose of my trip.  I end up taking trips into the countryside and driving the lightly traveled country roads around me for hours looking for the fall colors.  I end up stopping the car in potentially dangerous spots beside the roads and stepping out to take pictures, perhaps even stepping into the center of the road if the probabilities seems to be in my favor.  I end up making U-turns in my car to return to the spot on the roadway where I saw something that caught my attention.  I end up walking around trying to find just the right angle so that the sun lights up the trees in a manner that accentuates the colors of the leaves that are dying.  I end up waiting patiently for the clouds that are drifting past the sun to get out of the way so that the trees are lit up just right.  And all of this happened to me once again this year!

And it turns out that I still continue to enjoy looking at the new pictures I am taking. But even among these pictures there are some that present a special treat to me.  There is something about the way these pictures effect my state of mind.  Take a look at some examples.

I was driving out of my neighborhood when I came upon a scene that caused me to stop the car right there on the road.  I had to step out of the car and wait for just the right moment for the swiftly moving clouds behind me to get out of the way before I was able to take this picture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI usually run my loops from home beside Seneca lake with the minimum load I can carry.  But knowing that the time was right, I had carried my camera in my backpack while running on this particular day even though the added weight increased the level of effort needed.  I was rewarded by this sight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen this was what I saw while I was driving to different points on the C&O canal to experience the fall colors.  I wonder if she was using water colors!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, this one was closer to home on the road leading out of the neighborhood.  The splash of color caught my immediate attention.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful!

Maybe  it is a curse that I tend to take the subject matter of the WPCs very literally.  I am not good at getting into a poetic frame of mind and coming up with something that may be a little more thoughtful and abstract.  So here I go again..

Hiking, as opposed to walking on a flat trail, can require a lot of care depending on the terrain you are on.  In spite of the care I take, I have had my share of minor incidents.  Just yesterday, while hiking the trails and enjoying the Fall colors at the Catoctin Mountain Park in the northern section of Maryland, my shoe got stuck on a pointy vertical protrusion from a root in the middle of the trail. The front of the top of my trail running shoe literally got stuck and the shoe began to tear before I was able to stop my forward motion.  Fortunately I was not going too fast. This happened soon after I had stepped on a rock that was deceptively slippery because of a light cover of moss. I managed to get a grip to stop a downward slid, while the camera which was hanging from my neck took a hit on to the rock.  Fortunately nothing happened to the camera.  I am still feeling the aftereffects of a fall that happened a few weeks ago while running on the trail in the park nearby.  But that is life….

After some thought, this week’s challenge took me back to our Spring vacation in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  The trails were quite challenging when compared to the ones closer to home.  We also had some unexpected encounters with snow and ice on the trail during this trip. And then there were some folks who chose to take the path less traveled. One had to be careful!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra)ordinary Planet Earth

Very often something that you experience for the first time can seem extraordinary to you, but repeated exposure with time can make it feel more “ordinary”.  The novelty can wear off.

In this context, the series of pictures that I am going to present may tend to be less noteworthy to a certain subset of population that is used to flying on commercial aircraft across the United States on a regular basis. But I also suspect that not all of this subsection of the population  actually even sees what I see.  They probably would not handle the flying experience the way I used to.  Most folks are who on these trips regularly are doing it for business purposes, and the flying part of the experience is used for pursuits other than taking pictures out of the window of the aircraft.  The more energetic folks are usually catching up on work, most often on their electronic devices, while most others are trying to simply relax, either reading, or watching a movie or taking a nap.  An alcoholic beverage or two can also sometimes help the time pass by.

But I took a different approach.   I would attempt to get on flights that were at the right time of the day for taking pictures from the air, and if possible even try to find a window seat on the side of the aircraft that provided the best views at that time of day.  My face would be stuck to the window pane. (The Airbus 320 family of aircraft have much more comfortable windows than the Boeing 737s in this regard.) I would take pictures of whatever I could see that seemed remarkable (extraordinary?) to me both in the sky and on the ground.  I flew quite a lot for many years, but none of this stuff ever became ordinary to me.

Looking back in time, I was quite fortunate to have found something to do that was exciting and extraordinary to me, something that made the routine and the drudgery of unending business trips for the purposes of making a living and putting bread on the table more tolerable.

Most of the flights I used to take happened to pass over the southwest of the United States, a particularly remote and rugged area of the country with a low population density.  Here are few shots that from those days.

IMG_2329The black spot in the picture is from water on the ground.  I wonder if people live in this area. And here is a picture taken with the sun low in the sky.

IMG_4099It seemed to me that I was flying over a different planet.  And then there was this shot that reminded me of fractals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe structure seen in the following picture reminds you of the complexity of the processes that have shaped the earth.  My guess is that the material of the structure is able to withstand erosion much better than the material around it.

IMG_2557Sometimes you see the impact of the combination of nature and man on the ground in a different way, as on this wintry day when I was flying cross-country.

IMG_2526Finally, here is a very simple phenomena that I saw from the window of my aircraft.

IMG_2341I have never seen a circular rainbow anywhere else.  Here is an explanation for this phenomenon.  Apparently this is not an uncommon thing for people who fly frequently to see.  It goes to show that something that is extraordinary to one person may be ordinary for somebody else.

Here are some other pictures I have taken while flying.

Here is a link to this week’s photo challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

This is perhaps the place where I am best able to recover my sense of balance.

This is the place you will find me on most weekends, early on Sunday mornings.

A misty sunrise over the Potomac at Seneca Creek

Great blue heron gliding over the water at Widewater

Brilliant sunlight over the trail near Taylor’s Landing

On the trail beside the dry canal bed near Shepherdstown, WV

Fall morning at Riley’s Lock

Cold misty morning over the Potomac near Glen Echo, MD

Sunrise near Harper’s Ferry on a Winter morning

Trail near Antietam Creek in winter

Sunlight spotlights the trail in Spring

Springtime on the trail closer to Williamsport, MD

Summer time near Pearre, MD

This place is not defined by a single destination or a single moment in time.  It spans many miles and many seasons over many years.

This is the C&O Canal National Park that runs between Washington, DC, and Cumberland, MD, along the Potomac river.

I think this qualifies as one of my happy places.

To find more about this week’s photo challenge, visit this site.

Chasing Damselflies over the Potomac

It was cloudy yesterday morning at Pennyfield lock as we set out north towards Riley’s lock.  My old routine of early morning runs along the river on Sunday mornings has changed. I have company these days.  It has become a family affair. My wife and I are by ourselves on some of the Sundays, but on many other Sundays this also turns into a group event with other families joining us, the other families having been convinced that the outdoor activity is indeed a good thing for them.  In order to accommodate the larger group, this event has become a walk rather than a run, and it takes place a little later in the morning than I have gotten used to for many years.  But it is all for a good cause!

The cool of the cloudy morning, the early signs of changing color on the trees, and the dry leaves already on the ground informed us that the Fall season is on its way.

There are still flowers on some of the plants along the trail, but I could see that these would also be soon gone.

There were no herons to be seen on the canal this day, but I did sight an egret in the distance in the middle of the river.  What was it up to? Was it catching fish, or simply enjoying the feeling of standing in the flowing water while listening to the sounds of the river around it.

The waters of the river were low and at some point we decided to go down to the river from the towpath to see how far we could get walking towards the middle of the river by stepping over the exposed rocks.

We encountered plenty of damselflies along the way. (Yes, these exist, and they are not the same as dragonflies.)  Some of us tried to catch them as they hovered around, but they were too quick for us.  I stuck to using my camera.

The water was clear and you could see the fish and other little creatures of the water swimming around.  There were dry leaves already floating in the water, a sure a sign of the start of the Fall season, .

As we walked along the towpath we came upon the squirrel sitting on the branch of a tree chewing on something or the other.  It cooperated long enough for its picture to be taken.

It was a very pleasant walk on a day that also happened to be my birthday. I think this was the appropriate way to celebrate an event like this, and the way to also try to celebrate every day of my life.

Cheers everybody!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

It took me just a little while to realize that I had the perfect subject matter for the topic of this week’s challenge.  This is because I have been wandering over the C&O canal towpath over many years taking pictures through all seasons.  Here are some pictures that capture one aspect of change as I have observed it.

The first target for my observations is the Pennyfield lock house.  Here is a picture from early spring.

and here is one from a month later.

Here is the same lock house in winter.

Then take a look a Swains lock on a Fall day,

and then in winter.

Taking a look at the aqueducts of the C&O canal, the Catoctin Aqueduct was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  It was replaced by a temporary bailey bridge for many years.

April 2006Here is what it looked like when they started reconstruction.

and here is what it looks like after the work was complete in 2011.  They did a great job!

I will end with a picture of the bridge near Anglers Inn that was taken in the Fall.

Here is another picture of the same bridge taken in winter.

Feb 2010I find it hard to resist the temptation to dig up more pictures of this wonderful place I visit, but I must stop lest I be accused of obsessive behavior!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grids

The picture below illustrates how humans tend to convert natural shapes that are usually irregular into those that are more repeatable, including the grids that are very common for farming.

The picture below is another example of a grid created by human beings, and is perhaps also also a commentary on the state of the human condition.

This is the Grid!