If your looking for a cool looking camera to get your kids enthusiastic about photography Lego may soon be able to help you. They recently announced that they've teamed up with Digital Blue to produce a range of children's electronics, including a camera. Dad's might be pleased to hear you don't actually have to assemble the thing (it looks like traditional Lego blocks but doesn't come apart and snap together), although personally I think that takes most of the fun out of it!
The Bionicle Camera (pictured right) is due to arrive in Toys R Us stores this autumn, in the meantime if you want a camera your kids can actually build check out these instructions for pinhole cameras made from a matchbox or a juice carton. Or for something truly unique find yourself and old Mac and check out the instructions for the happy little mac pinhole camera! If you make any of these at home let us know how it turns out in the comments.
Picasa, Google's free photo-editing software, recently became available for Mac users (running OS X 10.4.9 or above). It has a few nifty features that iPhoto (or iPhoto '08 at least) doesn't and is very easy to use. It's got all the basic editing tools - crop, straighten, remove red eye, convert to black and white, convert to sepia, and so on that you'll also find in iPhoto. The extras in Picasa include adding a a gauzy glow to your photos, adding a graduated tint (useful for sky portions of photos), and adding focal black and white (allowing you to keep one part of the photo in colour and covert the rest to black and white). Plus something simple I always wished iPhoto would do - allow you to add text to a photo. In Picasa there's a button right there under "basic fixes" that says "add text" and that's how easy it is!
You can also create collages (like the one at the top of this post), mosaics, contact sheets, & fun multiple exposure shots with the click of a few buttons (see below). It's all very easy to use and I think would be a great fit for someone looking to do a bit of easy editing to family photos (you can upload them to Picasa Web Albums with the one click too). The organisation system for photos in Picasa is perfect for this as well, allowing you to either import photos direct to Picasa or import them using another program and put them in your own folders where Picasa will then find them. It will also show all your iPhoto folders (although you need to make a copy of an iPhoto photo before Picasa will allow you to edit it).
If you're someone who takes lots of photos of little Davey playing softball or your beloved husband building the new garden shed and want a simple easy way to clean the photos up, jazz them up, & get them up on the web then Picasa is probably a perfect fit for you. If you want more control over your editing process (adjusting levels, exposure, etc) then it's not for you.
You can download Picasa for Mac here and it's also available in it's original Windows incarnation and for Linux (Mac & Linx versions are still in beta).
Contact sheet, very quick and easy to create.
Framed mosaic, background colour & size of gaps can be easily adjusted.
Multiple exposures take just one click to create once you've selected the photos to use.
Read the rest of the review and find out how you can get a free copy of this book.
These amazing biographies, written by editors, friends, and spouses, bring us a personal and stirring account of four National Geographic photographers. Each story reveals the adventurous spirit and innovation these gifted photographers brought to their craft. From Maynard Williams' epic 10 month overland crossing of the Asian continent in 1931, to Luis Marden's pioneering work with underwater photography and his discovery of the Bounty in 1957, to Volkmar Wentzel's adventure prompted by his editor to "Do India," to Thomas Abercrombie's coverage of the Middle East in the 60s and 70s---these men all seemed to be the right man at the right place at the right time in history.
Each essay, lovingly written, reveals details about these men and their assignments that were only known to friends and colleagues, and provide an account that gives an intoxicating glimpse of what it must have been like to be a National Geographic Field Man in these golden years. These men were the Indiana Jones' of photography.
Accompanied by beautiful 8 and 10-inch photographs throughout, Odysseys and Photographs covers nearly a century of world history--the people, the places, the politics---in a behind-the-scenes kind of way, through the eyes of these gifted photographers, writers, adventurers.
Photodoto thinks photography is genius and BBC Four agree with us! In late 2007 they aired a 6-part documentary entitled The Genius of Photography which spanned 170 years of photography's history. What 2007? That's old news I hear you cry! But for Christmas I received the accompanying book and it's got me all excited about the series again. Plus one of my aims for 2009 (I don't like the term "New Year's resolutions" - too much pressure!) is to learn more about the history of the art I have such a passion for.
The Genious of Photography Book is a good place to start, it's well written and contains suitably awesome photographs. If you're in the UK it's definitely worth the £19, for everyone else check out the website where you can see some of the famous photos used in the series (and read about the photographers) here. If you're feeling adventurous you can even follow the instructions in this clip from the show and make a camera obscura.
(The book is available on Amazon.com in the USA but is an import and currently only available used. A soft cover version will be released in August)
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