The Mystery of the Supranational Rabbit (porsupah) wrote,
The Mystery of the Supranational Rabbit

A weekend of rockabilly and barbecue ahoy

The Beeb recently unveiled their plans for a cross-channel "Summer of Wildlife", spanning BBC 1, BBC2, and CBBC, with the laudible goal "to inspire and galvanise people to discover more about the incredible species and habitats on their doorstep." There's Springwatch, as in previous years, coming this time from Ynys-hir in mid Wales, but also Wild! on CBBC: "Live from a different location each week, the programme will take on exciting challenges that will look to reconnect kids with nature. Presenters include Naomi Wilkinson. The experience will be taken beyond the TV with fun online resources and activities that kids can do with family and friends at home." However, it's "The Burrowers" which I'll be eagerly awaiting: "a remarkable three-part series that will explore the extraordinary subterranean world of voles, rabbits, badgers and moles. Made by Dragonfly, the groundbreaking series has been filmed in specially created full-scale burrows and uses exciting camera technology to witness animal behaviour never viewed before. Presented by Chris Packham, with expert guidance from scientists, vets and specialist filmmakers, The Burrowers will follow the lives of these animals as they give birth and raise the next generation."

The Verge recently ran quite a good, non-technical interview with Peter Belanger, a San Francisco-based product photographer. Amongst his clients, are Apple, eBay, Nike, and Pixar - so, chances are, you've seen his work. Now, you might be tempted to think it couldn't really be that difficult to take a good shot of something like an iPhone or an iPad - but.. well, there's a bit more involved in immaculate shots, as their time-lapse video (about two minutes for the shoot, one minute for delivery and composing the magazine cover) demonstrates. Once you've seen that, you'll better appreciate the meaning of the title they used for the interview: "The illusion of simplicity".

UK peeps might want to submit some suggestions to the Observer Food Monthly awards, both to nominate your favorites, as well as being in with a chance of some rather pleasant prizes, of dinners at top restaurants, hampers, cooking lessons, as well as a luxury trip to Anguilla. Categories include best restaurant (over £20/head), best cheap eats (under £15/head), best place to drink, best independent retailer, best reader's recipe, best food photography, and more.

A photographic Kickstarter, with a proven business case: big silver gelatin prints, from Digital Silver Imaging. They're already in business, and produce prints using a silver process, rather than the prevalent color dye based printers, resulting in perfectly neutral tones. However, they'd like to meet customer demands for larger prints - currently, they can offer up to 20", but with the processor they'd like to build, they could offer up to 48" wide. The backer rewards are mostly hearty discounts on printing one of your files, though with some other interesting options available as well.

Or, in games, Ghost of a Tale, "a small game where you play a little mouse on a quest in a medieval world populated by animals", which will ring familiar to Redwall fans.

Finally, a rather promising looking sci-fi short, with a modest target of £30,000 for completion: The Nostalgist - the shooting's all done, including some known figures, out of their own pockets. The Kickstarter wraps up on June 5, so there's a good bit of time left. "With properly tuned ImmerSyst eyes™ & ears™ the futuristic city of Vanille can look and sound like a paradise. But the carefully curated life of a father and his son threatens to disintegrate when the father’s eyes™ begin to fail. Desperate to avoid facing his own traumatic reality, the man must venture into a city where violence and danger lurk beneath a skim of beautiful illusion."

Here's a stop-motion animated short, a mere minute or so long. It's quite special, even if it's hardly going to worry Pixar. It's composed entirely of large dots, each of which is an individual atom. From IBM Research, "A Boy and his Atom".

You've seen pictures of the Sun before. But, Alan Friedman's "Clementine" really does stand out from the pack.

An inspired idea! A three day science festival, featuring distinguished speakers on three tracks - brain, body, and biotechnology - held in various pubs across London, Oxford, and Cambridge, from May 14-16th: Pint of Science.

It's got to be worth a try, ne? I've uploaded my entries to BWPA 2013, mostly in Animal Behavior and Animal Portraits, with three in Hidden Britain. I'll admit, I could perhaps have entered one or two in the botanical category, and possibly even a couple from 2010, but with time running short until entries close, I didn't want to burn time on sifting through the older iPhoto libraries, and then correcting for the Tamron's issues, in addition to the overall selection process. And it's not like I was desperately short of photographs I was sufficiently content with, particularly a couple of the recent ones. Anyway - I'm under no illusions as to my chances, but, the only way to guarantee failure is to not try. ^_^ I'll be delighted simply to receive a call for a full size version and RAW of a photograph, as part of being shortlisted, let alone being amongst anyone named in the outcome. Either way, at least their schedule means nobody will be kept waiting very long, as shortlisted entrants will be contacted between May 10-14, so they can obtain the original RAWs and high-res TIFFs.

I finally went out, the other day, with both of the long lenses, to gain a better feel for how they perform "in the wild", under real conditions, as well as some test shots of a sign a little distance from the home, with and without the teleconverters. It was a worthwhile experiment. ^_^ With the TCs, it's evident the Sigma is a little softer, and with detectable CA; the Nikkor, meanwhile, seems to remain a strong performer, though CA's also evident, but to a lesser extent. Without, they're rather closer than I'd anticipated. However, it was on the rounds when I was reminded of the differences most sharply - the Sigma has the benefits I've appreciated recently, being somewhat longer and brighter, but mostly, the ability to turn on stabilisation, and either take very clean shots in reasonable light, or reasonable shots in poor light. On the other paw, using the Nikkor reminded me of a big benefit: it's much lighter, at 1440g versus 2950g. That might not sound like a lot, but when you're holding it out from yourself, very steadily - and at 600mm, any tiny movement is amplified - the weight does become rather noticeable after a few minutes, necessitating lowering it for a break. And naturally, when you're not prepared for a shot is when the magic moment will happen. =:) So, I may, if it turns out I can afford to do so, keep both, and even use both on the same days - the Nikkor for prolonged observation, especially when the light's good, and the Sigma when walking between locations, or if clouds are leaving the weather somewhat gloomy.

One thought, therefore, that's been occurring to me, is perhaps moving to a new body. The obvious choice for me would be the D7100, recently launched by Nikon. Compared to my current D90, two distinct benefits stand out: an autofocus module that, by all accounts, is able to respond pronouncedly more quickly and more accurately; and higher pixel density, offering 24MP vs 12MP, effectively making for a 1.4x TC without requiring any modification of a lens' optical path. (But, naturally, still reliant on the quality of the lens to begin with - if it's soft, you'll just receive a more accurately rendered softness) My dream camera remains the D800e, but that's over twice the price, so not really a feasible option at this point - but its low light performance is astounding. I've no real need for full frame, but that sensitivity.. still, whatever route I take, I need to get the store open, and aim toward making the kit more like the MBP and PowerBooks - tools that are a modest expense in the course of making money. And having a load of fun doing so. ^_^

Having played around with it on several occasions in the past, I finally opted to pick up a license for Neat Image. Aperture's internal noise reduction does a reasonable job, and is fine most of the time - but, where the gain's really pushing the camera's abilities, it can tend to lose detail, a particular problem with fur textures. I'd recommend it, in any event. It's available for OS X and Windows, as any combination of standalone application, or Aperture or Photoshop plugins.

I'm much more one for transformations than Transformers, but nonetheless, this costume based on their cinematic outings is pretty damned impressive. (Hat-tip to ysengrin for noticing it!)

With Adobe having announced the end of Creative Suite, going entirely over to the subscription-only Creative Cloud, alternatives are being bandied about with abandon. ^_^ Whether or not they'll fit a given user's needs is another matter, but, they're worth noting anyhow. For image manipulation, Acorn and Pixelmator; vector drawing, Artboard; DTP, Scribus. Whilst Lightroom wasn't included in their monumental display of foot carnage, it's also proving to be a fine opportunity for LR alternatives, with one such being the open source OS X/Linux option, Darktable.

Idly pondering - what effect would scratching with higher speed records have on the results? Obviously, for the same speed disruptions, the sound would be that much lower - I'm thinking more about the overall nature of how it'd sound. Not that I've ever heard of a DJ using a twin 78 deck, but there's absolutely nothing saying it couldn't be done - which surely means someone must already have done it. Perhaps with protective gloves, though. =:)
Tags: adobe, bbc, kickstarter, sci-fi, wildlife

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