This is How Press Photos Were Transmitted Back in the 1970s

This is How Press Photos Were Transmitted Back in the 1970s

In our world of digital photography and high speed Internet, photojournalists can quickly and easily send large numbers of high-res photos to the other side of the globe. Things weren’t always so convenient.

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Posted in Photography

11 of the Most Interesting Lenses in the History of Photography

11 of the Most Interesting Lenses in the History of Photography

For almost two centuries, the science and art of photography has allowed people to capture the world around them through carefully crafted lenses. However, not all lenses are created equal. While most lenses just aim to please, others aim to impress. Today, we are taking a look at some of the most exotic lenses we could find.

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Posted in Good Read, Photography

Weekend Project: Shooting with Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror Model 55BB

A few months ago, I bought a Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 500mm f/8 55BB mirror lens. Not that I needed it, but the price was so low that it would have been silly not to buy it. The lens came with a Nikon Adaptall adapter, so I tried it on my trusty Nikon D90 a couple of times. But since then, the lens has been sitting idly on a shelf.

Last weekend, though, the weather was (relatively) nice, there was some hectic bird activity in our garden, and I felt like doing something else than sitting in front of the computer all day long. So I’ve been monkeying around with the lens mounted on a SONY NEX-3N using an el cheapo FOTGA F-mount adapter.

This turned out to be an unwieldy yet surprisingly usable setup. Shooting with a rather hefty lens attached to a SONY NEX-3N proved to be a challenge. On the 1.5X crop sensor, the lens has a 750mm focal length, so focusing and keeping the camera stable, especially when shooting hand-held was far from an easy task. For better results, I switched to the Shutter Priority mode and cranked up the shutter speed to 1/800 sec.

Mirror (or catodioptric) lenses are more compact and much less expensive than proper tele lenses. There are also drawbacks: catodioptric lenses have a fixed aperture (f/8 in case of 55BB) and they produce unusual doughnut-shaped bokeh that can be distracting. Fixed f/8 aperture and long focal length mean that you need to shoot at high ISO in most situations. Fortunately, most modern cameras, including the lowly SONY NEX-3N, can handle high ISO rather well.

Mirror lenses rarely score high marks in optical quality tests (see, for example, a review by, but I found the results produced by the lens more than adequate. Sharpness is acceptable, there is no noticeable vignetting, distortion is negligible, and there is no color fringing to speak of. What’s not to like?

Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 500mm f/8 55BB is compatible with the SP 1.4X Tele-Converter which increases the focal length to 1050mm on a 1.5x crop sensor. I happen to have the tele-converter too, so it looks like I have another photography project for a sunny weekend.

Posted in Scribbles

Brief Notes on My digiKam Workflow

Every now and then, I get questions about an optimal digiKam-based workflow. It’s rather difficult to give general advice, as a lot depends on specifics. So I thought I’d share my photographic workflow for managing and processing photos in the hope that it answers some questions and provides a few starting points for users who want to use digiKam as their primary tool for working with photos and RAW files.

Preliminary note: I shoot both RAW and JPEG, and I usually do all adjustments on the JPEG files. Sometimes I process RAW files manually for better results, but usually I simply store RAW files as source files.


Renaming rule in the Import tool

I use digiKam’s Import module to transfer files from a storage card to the production machine. The Import setup is configured to rename incoming files on the fly using date and time data from EXIF metadata using the following format: yyyyMMdd-mmhhss. While digiKam makes it easy to see the date and time of each photo, having these data in the file name helps to manage photos outside the photo management application.

All incoming photos are transferred into a dedicated album in digiKam called INBOX. Once the photos and RAW files have been transferred, I enable the MIME Type filter that displays only JPEG photos and quickly prioritize them using picks. I assign the Accepted pick to photos that are worth keeping and processing, and I use the Pending pick to mark photos that have potential but I don’t plan to process immediately.

After the photos have been prioritized, I move accepted images and their RAW files into the appropriate target albums. I prefer to organize photos by camera model, so I have separate albums for each of my current and previous cameras. To process the added photos, I enable a filter that displays photos flagged as accepted. Once the photos have been processed, I tag them and add a brief description containing the camera model, lens, and other info I might find useful.


Expanded stack of grouped photos

Each RAW file and its accompanying JPEG files are then grouped using the grouping feature in digiKam. This way, each stack contains a RAW file, an original JPEG from the camera, and a processed JPEG — with the latter being on top of the stack. It’s possible that a similar approach can be implemented more efficiently using the Versioning functionality in digiKam, but I prefer to do this manually.


Color labels in action

Color labels help me to keep track of the current status of each photo. I use the following system:

  • Red labels mark processed photos ready to be uploaded to Flickr.
  • Orange labels are assigned to photos uploaded to Flickr but not shared on social networks like Google+
  • Magenta labels and/or star ratings are applied to photos that have been shared
  • Green labels are used for a few selected photos that are published on Mejiro.

That’s all there is to it. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the Comments section.

Posted in Scribbles

Mejiro Update: Now with a Stream View

Time for another Mejiro update. By default, Mejiro displays all published photos as a thumbnail grid, but the latest version also features a stream view that displays the photos as a continuous stream.


To switch to the stream view, click the hamburger icon in the footer (it looks like three bars stacked on top of each other). The new release also features a handful of under-the-hood tweaks. As always, a Mejiro demo is available for your viewing pleasure. And you can download the latest version of the app from the project’s GitHub repository.

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Posted in Open Source, Software

How a Nikon F3 Still SLR Was Modified to Film Indiana Jones in 1983

How a Nikon F3 Still SLR Was Modified to Film Indiana Jones in 1983

Did you know that a Nikon F3 still photography film SLR was used to shoot the 1984 movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? The mine cart chase scene in the film would have been too expensive if the track were built to scale, so George Lucas and Steve Spielberg turned to the special effects team at Industrial Light and Magic. They modified a Nikon F3 to shoot the chase scene in miniature using stop motion.

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Posted in Good Read, Photography

Monkey Stole My Camera

Although I prefer to use a regular camera whenever possible, I do occasionally shoot with whatever Android device I happen to have on me. And since my digiKam library already has quite a few snapshots that I like, I thought I’d share them with the world. I didn’t want to lump them together with my photos on Flickr, so I decided to set up a WordPress blog exclusively for that purpose.


So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Monkey Stole My Camera, a photo blog featuring Android photography by yours truly. I’ll try to keep you entertained by uploading snapshots on a regular basis. Proceed this way, please.

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Posted in Photography, Scribbles

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