It’s Easy Being Green

Being green is no longer a phrase associated with Kermit the Frog. We all know we really should do our part to keep the Earth from turning into one giant landfill. The good news is "it's not easy being green" really isn't true, a little effort in all aspects of your life can add up to one big difference. So how can you be greener in the photography side of your life? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Green Power: If you use a camera (or accessory such as a flash) that uses AA or AAA batteries make sure you're using rechargeable batteries, not only will it help the environment it'll help your bank balance too. NiMH or Lithium batteries are your best bet for hundreds of recharges without "memory effect" and generally cost $25-$30 for 4 batteries and the recharger. Cameras with battery types other than AA/AAA usually come with a rechargeable battery but if yours didn't look into buying one, most type are available. And once you've got those rechargeable batteries make sure you recycle those old non-rechargeable ones! Many local supermarkets and camera stores will now recycle your batteries for free.

Green Storage: If you're ready to invest in a new camera bag check out Lowe Pro's Primus AW bag which is made of 51% recycled materials. To make it even better Lowe Pro say "funds raised from the sale of the Primus AW backpack will support Polar Bears International PBI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear." And it's as well designed and constructed as Lowe Pro's other bags.

Green Recharge: Now that you're using rechargeable batteries you need power to recharge them. If you really want to go green and eliminate the need to find an electrical socket you need a solar camera charger. A bit more of an investment, they cost between $130 and $250 depending how much power they provide.

Green Print: If you print photos on your own printer give GreenPix matte photo paper a try. 100% recycled, it’s available in sizes from 4 x 6 up to 13 x 38.

Green Display: Once you’ve printed your photos you’ll want to display them. If an album is your way to do that check out the albums available at One World Projects which use a combination of renewable bark cloth and recycled paper and have the added bonus of supporting the women in Uganda who make them. For something else unique Acorn Studios have recycled circuit board albums, or Pristine Planet have a variety of albums handmade from recycled/reclaimed materials. If you prefer to frame your photos Green House Framing have a selection of reclaimed wood frames. Uncommon Goods have reclaimed tin frames and for something truly one-of-a-kind reclaimed bicycle chain frames. Ten Thousand Villages have recycled paper frames, and for recycled mat board check out Green House Framing's selection.

Green Awareness: Raise awareness of environmental issues through your photography by entering the Environmental Photographer of the Year 2008 competition. Closing date is 31st July 2008.

Green Giving: If you're ready to upgrade to a new camera but your old one is still working consider donating it to a charity such as Global Classroom Connections or your local children's hospital or at-risk youth center and give a new generation a chance to try photography. Or use your local chapter of Freecycle and find a deserving person to give your camera too yourself.

Pro Photo Rental lens rentals (with discount for Photodoto readers)

Jared at Pro Photo Rental (prophotorental.com) just sent me some information about their rental business located in Boulder, Colorado. I've used a couple of these services personally (read reviews of Rentglass and Ziplens) and we also have a handy roundup of online rental services.

Pro Photo Rental---offering Canon, Nikon, and Olympus gear---distinguishes itself from the competition with the following features:

  • They are one of the few services that takes reservations and the only one that I know of that has an online reservation system.
  • You can rent gear for exactly as long as you need it with a 4-day minimum. Everyone else seems to rent in 1-week increments.
  • Offer a selection of Olympus lenses and gear (including an E-3 body).
  • They offer a good variety of lenses but also rent bodies and speedlights.
  • Local pickup in the Denver metro area.

Pro Photo Rental has offered Photodoto readers a 15% discount off of any order over $40 (good through July 2008). Just enter code S-Photodoto08 during checkout. If you take them up on their offer, let us know what you thought of the service in the comments.

Five Cool Little Gadgets

I have five friends who have birthdays in late May/early June and are photography enthusiasts so I have been keeping an eye open for gift ideas. So far, through random stumbling about on the internet I have come across these rather cool looking photo-related gadgets:

Keyboard shortcut skins for Photoshop, Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools, After Effects, & Logic Pro. They're $30 for laptops, $40 for desktops at Photojojo although they're only available for Macs.

Giottos Rocket Blaster looks like an easy, safe way to clean dust off the important inside parts of your camera. Plus it looks like a rocket, which is cool. Cost about $11 from Amazon.

Eye Fi Wireless Memory Card so you can upload photos without digging through a mass of USB cables to find which one you need. Especially cool for traveling. Photojojo and Amazon both sell them for $100 for the SD card and Photojojo has the SD card with a CF adapter for $130.

Lowe Pro Photo Gloves if you've lived in Alaska (like me) or anywhere else cold you'll appreciate the dilemma of choosing between frostbite or an inability to manipulate your cameras dials, buttons, and other delicate parts. These are designed to keep your hands warm and cable of operating a camera and tripod. Lowe Pro have them for about $30.

Magnetic Photo Rope because what's the point in taking all those photos if you don't display some of them? And this is a pretty cool way to display them. Photojojo has rope with 8 plain magnets for $12, Wrapables has rope with six scotty dog shaped magnets also for $12.

What's your favourite  photo gadget? If you've got one of these or any other cool photo gadgets let us know in the comments which one you feel coolest playing with.

A punch in the face and the Casio EX-F1 high-speed camera

Saw this amazing new-to-me video of people being punched in the face this morning (via Waxy). (More footage here.)

High-speed photography, to me, is amazing. Typically we photographers deal in stills but the line between photography and video is blurring. Manufacturers have been adding video capability to still cameras and vice versa for a long time. Photographers have been known to spend ungodly amounts of time putting together video from still frames. And very slow video like the above has a very photographic feel.

If you fancy trying your hand at high-speed photography, Casio may have just the (affordable) ticket. Their recently released (March 2008) Casio EX-F1 is a 6.1 megapixel camera capable of shooting at up to 1200 frames per second. Play that back at normal video speeds (24 fps) and you've got home-made slow-mo movies for around $1,000.

The EX-F1 is also able to capture full-resolution stills in 60 frame-per-second bursts. And they provide an innovative mode that allows the camera to capture shots you missed. In this mode, holding down the shutter half-way continuously captures 60 frames and then discards them each second until you press the shutter fully. This is perfect for capturing unpredictable action. Now you can go back in time 60 seconds and pick the right moment as the keeper.

It's not widely available yet (you can get it from B&H but you have to make a phone order). If anyone out there has got one of these babies, let us know what you think. I'm especially interested in thoughts about the 60fps capability for capturing action.

“Photoshopped.”

My photo blog (shameless plug: lightproofbox.com) has been getting some traffic from StumbleUpon lately which brings with it little waves of attention. 99% of it is positive. But invariably there are a few people who don't seem to have anything better to do than to say trite, mean things (anonymously, natch).

Hey, I've been around long enough to know there are jackasses out there who, while not doing anything risky or creative of their own, will always be willing to bash what everyone else is doing. I let it roll off my back.

But the one that makes me laugh is when they claim a photograph has been "photoshopped." Well, duh. That's like looking at the ocean and denouncing it by saying, "Wet." Photoshopped? Let me think... Um, yes, please!

I modify 99% of my published photos. Of the thousand I've posted to Flickr there are maybe a half-dozen that I posted as-is from the camera. My earliest photos had the least "work done." Later, as I became more experienced with digital post-processing, I edited quite heavily (probably too heavily in many cases). Lately, as my skill, confidence, and ability to pre-visualize with the camera has grown, I've been able to get what I want with minor adjustments or black and white conversion but I still sometimes edit heavily.

I think that most people who cry foul over a photo think that it's a complete fake (reasoning: there's no way I could take that photo, therefore no one could, therefore fake) and that the photographer is trying to pass it off as if it weren't. (Keep in mind I'm talking about art not journalism.) Like I'm using Photoshop to pull a fast one and it's the duty of these sharp-eyed photo-police to point out to everyone that the photo isn't "real."

News flash: no photos are "real." At best, they're a cropped, 2-dimensional representation of something real. Photographs are stories. Every one. Some of the stories are simple: we saw a famous landmark. Some can have a much deeper, even spiritual, impact. A single photograph can tell different stories to different people. And the last time I checked, stories don't have to be "real" to have real meaning.

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