TIL: SONY NEX-3N Has Focus Tracking

SONY NEX-3N has been my trusty companion for quite some time, and I thought I knew it pretty well. Turned out I was wrong. A few days ago, while wading through the camera’s menus, I stumbled upon the Tracking Focus function in the Camera section.

This feature can be particularly useful when you need to keep focus on a moving subject, and it’s rather straightforward in use. Activate focus tracking, align the focus point on the screen with the subject in the frame you want to be in focus, and press the OK button. This makes the focus point “stick” to the object.

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Satellite Images Reveal Humanity’s Mighty Impact, for Better or Worse

Benjamin Grant’s career as curator of startling satellite imagery began with, of all things, a problem with Apple’s much-maligned Maps app.

He was preparing a lecture for friends about space and the overview effect and typed “Earth” to see if the map would zoom out all the way. “It actually went to Earth, Texas, a small town in the middle of nowhere,” says the 26-year-old New Yorker. “The entire scene filled up with pivot irrigation circles, these electric-motored irrigators that go in perfect circles. I was like, Oh my god, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”

Since then, Grant has been on a constant prowl for equally beautiful—and sometimes disturbing—landscapes, curating them at his site Daily Overview. In all the pictures he sources from his partner satellite company, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, he tries to show evidence of human impact, be it agriculture, mining, transportation, or music festivals. He sometimes goes newsy, too; when the Nepal earthquake hit in April, he found an image revealing emergency shelters popping up all over Kathmandu.

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Parisian Floors Photo Series Reminds Us To Look Down More Often

With your head in the clouds, we may often forget the beauty that lies under our feet. Photographer Sebastian Erras reminds us of the beauty that we can find by taking photos of striking floor designs that he finds throughout Paris.Paris wasn’t nicknamed “The City Of Art” because of its vibrant flooring, but it could have been – whether they’re painted tiles, painstaking mosaics or other designs, the floors Erras photographs are truly works of art. His feet in each frame, however, help remind us about what we’re actually looking at.

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Why People Never Smiled in Old Photographs

In most old photos — those taken in the 19th century and early 20th century — people aren’t smiling. That’s led to the popular belief that people simply didn’t smile in old photos. Like in this depressing wedding photo from 1900:

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Berlin in the 90s

It’s too easy to take for granted the Berlin that we all know today. Beautiful old Altbauten next to modern light apartment buildings, an abundance of cafes, restaurants and little independent shops along the big malls. A city full of life all connected with a great transportation and infrastructure system.But over 20 years ago the streets looked very different and especially East Berlin was all but a big opportunity after the reunification. Temporary clubs and galleries spruced up in the deserted building giving new life to the waste open spaces while at the same time countless construction sites were a sign of what was to come. Berlin based photographer Michael Lange captured this truly unique time and the rapid change that was taking place all over the city in his black and white photographs.

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Experimenting with the Particle Photon Board

As an amateur photographer with a proclivity for electronics, I like to experiment with hooking my trusty SONY NEX-3N to electronic DIY contraptions. Usually, my projects are based around Arduino and Raspberry Pi, but I never pass up the chance to try something different.

So when I stumbled upon the Particle Photon Wi-Fi dev kit, I thought it would make a perfect board for my experiments. And since the board costs a paltry 19 USD, I ordered one right away. The price is not Photon’s only attraction, though. The board is tiny and can be plugged into a regular breadboard for more convenient prototyping. As the name suggests, Photon has an on-board Wi-Fi module, and the accompanying Android and iOS app makes it supremely easy to connect the Photon board to a wireless network. The Build web-based development environment can be used to write and compile Photon programs, and then flash them on to the board over-the-air. Photon’s programming language is very similar to Arduino’s, so existing Arduino sketches can be easily ported to Photon. The Dashboard interface makes it possible to visualize data published by the Photon board. Furthermore, the Particle platform provides a RESTful API that can be used to access and control the Photon board using HTTP requests. On top of that, Photon is released as open hardware. In short, there are plenty of reasons to like this tiny board.

To master Photon’s basics, I built a simple transistor-based shutter release for the SONY NEX-3N camera (it can be easily adapted for other cameras, too) that can be controlled via the web and the command line. This project deserves a separate article, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, you can grab the project’s code and files from GitHub.

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The Picturesque Views of Europe’s Invisible Borders

TWENTY YEARS AGO, a treaty called the The Schengen Agreement opened the borders between 26 nations in the European Union. The intimidating barriers that once stood between countries vanished, allowing people to move about freely.

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