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September 29, 2007

Photographer Gunned Down In The Street

Today the London Evening Standard published an article about a Japanese photographer being gunned down and killed along with 8 protesters by Burmese troops in the city or Rangoon.

Read the entire article here

The article talks about how he lay on the street dying and still shooting photos. I'm not actually convinced of that part of the story as the position of his camera strap seems to indicate that the photo was snapped as he was falling to the ground.

However .. that is a MINOR point. The killing of unarmed civilians and members of the press is simply barbaric behavior.

These sorts of injustices need to be publicized as much as possible and everywhere possible.
Please pass this story along to anyone that you know.

I love the shot of the Buddhist monks marching in the street. I do not label myself as a Buddhist (labels are not necessary) but I do study Buddhism and I applaud my brothers for marching and showing their courage.


September 28, 2007

Photo Contest


I rarely enter photo contests but I found this one for photos of the area where I live.

Do me a HUGE favor and follow this link and vote for some of my photos please.


I'd love to win this contest and have some of my photos included in the book that will be published after the contest is over.

Thanks a lot.

September 27, 2007

Online Forums

If you've been to the www.allensphotoblog.com homepage recently you might notice a new icon in the center of the page, It's the new Digital Photography Podcast Online Forums

This a what they call (in the restaurant business I think) a "soft opening"
The Grand Opening will be announced in a special podcast this weekend.

Please go check out the forums, register as a user and start posting.
Please email me if you have any troubles at all with the forums or if you have
any suggestions or comments about the forums.

September 26, 2007

iLife '08 gets updates

Apple's iLife suite of programs got a load of updates today. You can get these updates using Apple's Software Update utility.

Software Update002.jpg

Technorati Tags: Digital Photography, Allen Rockwell, iLife, Apple

Revisiting "Change Your Altitude"

One of my favorite sayings in photography is "change your altitude".

By this I mean get down low and shoot, get up high and shoot, take it a step further and move left and right ... try all the angles.

To demonstrate this idea I did what loads of people do, I grabbed my trusty point-and-shoot camera and went out into my yard and shot a photo of my dog (you might shoot your kid instead).

Here is the standard shot of my dog from a standing position.

(Click to enlarge)

Now, here's a shot of the same dog, in exactly the same place take about 2 seconds later with my camera all the way down at ground level.

(Click to enlarge)

Which image catches your eye more? Which one looks ordinary to you?

I'm betting most of you like the second photo more than the first one ... it's a viewpoint that your brain is not used to seeing so therefore it's a more interesting image. Again, remember these were both taken with the same camera, same lens, same location, same time (within seconds), same subject ... the only variable is the shooters altitude.


My Canon EOS 30D on eBay

My trusty 30D is on eBay.


This camera has served me well .. I would not lie to my podcast pals, it's a good camera with lots of life still left in it.

Good luck bidding.

Photography = Terrorism ?????

Here is a recent article written by one of my flickr buddies "Mazda6"

War On People


...so I was ending me shoot of the Verrazano bridge. Before heading back to the car I decided to take a final shot - a shot I'd been planning all along. Between the vantage point - the main area of the park - and the carpark you get a great view directly under the bridge. The idea was to shoot this view with the reflections of the bridge on the water. I'd also get the some water on both sides and the imposing span and pillars of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.

It was not to be. I notice a car with its lights on close to where I set up my tripod. Being a car expert I see its a newish Chevy Impala, but its dark so I don't think cop. After setting up I start the shot when someone shouts: "You can't do that."

Fine, so I grab my tripod and walk towards the cop. The above shot is the 30sec exposure that results - the light is probably the squad cars headlights. My initial thought is: Shit, he will make me delete all my shots.

Fortunately, that did not happen, but other stuff did. So he explains that as part of the war on terror it is illegal to photograph bridges. Bridges? Well, you can't shoot close to the structure or the adjoining areas he explains. You can shoot the bridge from other places for a postcard type shot. Go to Brooklyn he says and shoot it from areas close to the expressway.

I tell him there were no signs. Sure he says and besides I know you didn't know since you started taking the shot right next to the squad car.

If that was the end of it, it would be annoying but ok. The guy was friendly and sympathetic. He didn't even check an ID or ask dumb questions (like the Chicago police did when I was shooting downtown from an overpass).

...but then he says, you know want we are supposed to do is detain you for questioning. These questionings often takes hours and there is no need for that. I know you didn't know.

Wow. I feel lucky as he drives off.

Think about it. He could have detained me for shooting a picture. How was I supposed to know? It was a public park. There are even binoculars for looking at the view! There are no signs whatsoever anywhere. Yet, if this guy felt like it he could have ruined my evening.

I can understand this if I did something suspicious. Lets say I climbed a fence or refused to cooperate or got caught multiple times. That would be fine, but this?

Think about the stupidity of this. Clearly they want to avoid people studying structures and finding weaknesses or places to blow explosives. But there are many reasons why this type of policing is likely to fail.

1. It would be extremely easy to take this picture. I could just come at day and snap 20-30 pics in 2 minutes. Or I could get a 600mm lense and shoot it from many other locations or from the sea.

2. Any skilled terrorist will know exactly what to say to the cops if they are detained. The only people that would struggle are normal ignorants like me. Also the terrorists - willing to blow the VNB - could probably get a hold of blueprints. In fact, driving a bunch of vans onto the bridge and having them breakdown would be a really easy way to cause massive damage. Any engineer can probably tell you where to blow to vans to inflict max damage.

So the policing achieves nothing and only is a hassle to normal folks.

...or maybe it is all PR. Maybe if people THINK they are monitoring for terror suspect they will feel safer or more importantly not blame anyone when the bridge does get blown.

Whatever it is it ruined my spirits for a while. Lets see how many times I manage to attract police attention. Four times so far and counting...

I think the random light streams in the shot capture perfectly the logic of this type of police work...

September 25, 2007

Testing the EOS 40D at ISO 1000

This evening I was checking out the Canon EOS 40D at high ISO. The shots were taken at dusk with a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS at 200mm and f/2.8.

You can see some noise in the black, but it's really not too bad at all.

The images are not very sharp but that's because I was hand holding at pretty low shutter speeds. I'll have a talk with the raccoons tomorrow and see if I can get them to come out earlier when the light is better :)

Technorati Tags: Digital Photography, Allen Rockwell, Canon, 40D

September 24, 2007

Video Podcast #12 Show Notes - Super Clamp and Pocket Wizard

The Bogen Manfrotto BO2910 at B&H;


The Pocket Wizard


Subscribe to the video podcast here

Podcast #42 Show Notes

Digital Asset Management Software

Apple Aperture


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

iView Media, now known as Microsoft Expression Media

Image Editing Software

Photoshop CS3

Photoshop Elements

GIMP, the free image editor.

Please feel free to add your favorite DAM software or image editor to the list and please explain how you use it in your workflow.

Podcast #41 Show Notes

Here are some links to the equipment I got for podcasting ... I know this has nothing to do with photography, but if you are interested in this kinda stuff here it is:

Alesis Multimix12 Firewire Mixer

"Podcast Host" telephone Interface


AudioTechnica AT 4040 Microphone

20" iMac

September 21, 2007

Canon or Nikon

A friend of mine wrote me an email today asking:

Do you have any general comments of why you chose Canon over Nikon?

Here's my reply:


I bought my first 35mm SLR in 1984, it was a Canon and I've just stuck with them ever since.

I love Canon and I'll never switch ... but if all my gear got stolen tomorrow and someone said "I'll replace it all with Nikon gear for free" I would not argue for a second ... both companies make great products.

It's kind of like comparing the top of the line BMW with the top of the line Mercedes ... both are great, it's a matter of personal taste. BTW, give me a 7 series BMW any day over a Benz :)

September 12, 2007

Video Podcast #10 Show Notes

Here is the HDR image that was featured in the Video Podcast Episode #10

Click to enlarge

Photomatix software is available at www.hdrsoft.com

Subscribe to the video podcast here

September 11, 2007

Podcast #40 Show Notes

Shooting Your Family

- Avoid busy backgrounds -- don’t pose everyone on the front porch or in front of the house. Think about what the subject is ... the house or the people?

- Shoot wide open (Low f stops)

- The “sun behind you” rule. Not good. Subjects will have the sun in their eyes. Shoot with the sun off to the side a bit, use a reflector if necessary to fill the other side of the person with fill light.

- Try shooting in the shade.

- Use a fill flash if necessary in the shade.

- Shoot at eye level for kids or even below eye level.

- Another option is to shoot from up high to eliminate the background completely.
With kids and pets, shot A LOT ... Keep shooting. The best shot may not be the shot you are trying to get.

- Postprocessing. I like to add a little bump to the saturation in family photos, it really brings out the greens in the trees and plants, the blues in the sky and tends to deepen skin tones a bit, especially in fair skinned subjects .... post processing family portraits is a matter of personal preference ... play around with the settings in your image editing software and see what happens. Remember that if you are using a destructive workflow tool like photoshop be sure to work on a copy of your image, never edit the original.

Examples: (click thumbnails to see larger versions)

This is an example of shooting alot to get the perfect moment. Again, the shallow depth of field allows the background to be visible without being overpowering.

A typical family portrait, the kid and grandparents. The shot was taken from a low angle to give it a dramatic look, again the shallow DOF allows the background to add to the photo without taking your attention away from the real subjects. Notice also that the shade of the trees makes for very nice diffused light seems to deepen the colors a bit. A wide aperture is needed for shade shots ... but as I explained, you should be shooting wide open, or very near it anyways to keep the background out of focus.

This is a cute shot of the kids, the low angle works well, but I’m not happy with the concrete steps in the background. Having the kids move onto the grass would have made for a better shot ... but this was another one of those spontaneous moments where the magic just happened while I was shooting. ... so, it’s a keeper.
Here we have another example of what happens when you shoot a few hundred shots ... Sure, you could plan a shot like this, but who thinks of such things. Spontaneous moments are sometimes the greatest.

In front of tree ... tree is in focus, not good. Kids are in harsh sunlight, boy has his eyes closed as a result.

September 06, 2007

Steve Jobs does the right thing

To all iPhone customers:

I have received hundreds of emails from iPhone customers who are upset about Apple dropping the price of iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale. After reading every one of these emails, I have some observations and conclusions.

First, I am sure that we are making the correct decision to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399, and that now is the right time to do it. iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to 'go for it' this holiday season. iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, and now it will be affordable by even more customers. It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone 'tent'. We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season.

Second, being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.

Third, even though we are making the right decision to lower the price of iPhone, and even though the technology road is bumpy, we need to do a better job taking care of our early iPhone customers as we aggressively go after new ones with a lower price. Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these.

Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T;, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned.

We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.

Steve Jobs
Apple CEO

September 05, 2007

Update - Angry Mob Crashes Apple Discussion Server

It seems that angry iPhone owners have crashed the discussion server at Apple support for the second time today.

thousands of people are angry over paying $600 for the iPhone two months ago (or less) only to have it marked down to $400 today.

The moderators could not delete angry posts fast enough in the iPhone discussion forums. .. and finally it looks like the server could not handle the traffic, or perhaps Apple took the server down.



iPhone $200 Price Drop

Today Apple dropped the price on the iPhone by $200

This move has left many thousands of early adopters feeling like they paid a 50% early adopter tax. While it is true that technology gets cheaper over time and often the first adopters of a new technology pay for a good bit of the initial research and marketing for the product, many are left feeling well taken advantage of.

iPhone users are flooding the support forums at http://discussions.apple.com with demands for $200 rebates or Apple Store gift cards (as Apple did when they slashed the price of Aperture).

It's my opinion that this is a slap in the face to all of us Apple fanboys and fangirls that have been proudly showing off our iPhones over the last 2 months to anyone that wants to see them. We adopted the technology early and were charged a $200 premium for doing so.

Shame on you Apple.

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