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The Genius of Photography

genius-bookPhotodoto 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)

Extreme Weather Photos

It’s white, it’s fluffy, it falls from the sky…that’s right it’s snow! Having moved from Alaska to the UK I wasn’t expecting to see any of the white fluffy stuff this year but Europe has been treated to a nice little spell of “arctic temperatures” to start off 2009. Check it out, it’s all pretty & white:

The BBC’s Europe’s Big Chill Gallery

The Telegraph’s Winter Weather Across Europe Gallery

The Telegraph’s Icy Weather Hits Britain Gallery

For a more worldwide view, The Sacremento Bee’s The Frame Extreme Weather Gallery

Wednesday Grab Bag


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Oh, you were expecting something to do with photography? Well, how about..

Camera Bag Options

Carol Kozak left a comment this week asking, “Can you recommend a “safe/secure” camera bag for an slr?  [I’m] looking for a main bag for all my gear + a “day” bag.” With all the those post-christmas, mid-credit-crunch sales going on now is the time to be shopping for such things so below are a few suggestions for portable camera storage. Keep in mind that no bag is a completely safe/secure way of storing a camera and Photodoto recommends you treat your camera with the love and respect it so clearly deserves! That said here are a few bags that will do their best to keep your camera safe & dry in 2009:

The Green Option.
Get the new year off to an environmentally friendly start with the Primus AW or the Primus Minimus AW from Lowe Alpine. Both are rugged, abrasion resistant, water resistant, and made from recycled materials.  The Primus is designed to hold a DSLR with an attached lens (up to 70-200mm), 1-2 extra lenses, accessories, & some outdoor gear (e.g. a light jacket). The Primus Minimus takes a DSLR with a medium zoom lens attached, plus 1-2 extra lenses, and accessories (charger, extra memory cards, flash, etc). Or if you want to throw your laptop in too try the CompuPrimus AW ($189.95 from Amazon) which holds a DSLR with lens (up to 70-200mm), 3-5 extra lenses, accessories, & a 15.4″ notebook. All the Primus bags have a loop system on the front to hold a tripod. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all three bags goes to Polar Bears International (PBI).

The BIG Option.
If you need to take everything but the kitchen sink check out the K5 from Naneu Pro. An 85 litre hybrid photo bag/hiking bag this looks like an ideal bag for outdoor photographers, adventurers, or travelers. It’s definitely on my wish list!  Basically it’s a top notch hiking backpack with a removable camera “pod” (meaning you could easily take out the camera section of the bag & carry just that, for example as hand luggage for a flight, and then stick it back into the main bag for a hike) which fits a pro DSLR with a lens up to 70-200mm attached & 3-4 additional lenses. There’s a tripod “carrying system” on the front of the pack  and the whole thing is water resistant & comes with a rain cover. Costs $369.99 direct from Naneu Pro.

The Waterproof Option. If you want to convert your regular DSLR into an underwater camera you might like this case from Aquapac which will transform your ordinary camera into a waterproof (to 15 feet), dustproof, sandproof camera! Although I’ve never used one of these for it’s waterproof features I did use one to protect my camera against sand when I was working in Namibia, it was simple to use & worked very well. That was almost 6 years ago so there have been a few improvements since then too. Including, this year, PVC-free material.

The Flying Option. If, like my mother, you spend several days before a flight worrying about whether your bag will pass the airline’s hand luggage size regulations then the Airport Antidote V 2.0 from Think Tank Photo is worth a look. Carry-on size, even for smaller planes, it holds a pro DSLR with up to 400mm lens, extra lenses & accessories, & a 15″ laptop. The laptop case is removable, there’s a top pocket for the little extras you need in-flight, & the bag comes with a security cable and lock and a rain cover.

The Lightweight Option. If you’re just looking to hold your SLR & an extra lens then a beltpack or a shoulder bag are good choices. The Speed Freak from Think Tank Photo holds an SLR & a 70 or 80 -200mm lens, and includes side mesh pockets, a small front pocket, and a reporter’s pad pocket. Costs $160 from Amazon.com. The Lima from Naneu Pro holds a DSLR with up to 5″ lens attached plus two smaller lenses & a flash. Naneu claims it will “withstand almost anything you put it through” & with eight pockets it’ll please organised photographers too.

The Hardcase Option. For waterproof-ness & the ability to take a hard knock Lowe Pro’s Omni Sport Extreme ticks all the boxes. It consists of a convertable beltpack/shoulderbag that slips into a waterproof hardcasing. The whole thing can be taken as airline carry-on & holds an SLR, 2-3 lenses & accessories. Costs $99.95 from Amazon.

The Cheap Option. Spending money hurts me so while I drool over some of the above-mention bags on the companies’ websites in the real world I’ve taken a bit more of a do-it-yourself approach. I use my regular all-purpose backpack (similar to this one) & pack it with a fleece or other bit of spare clothing on the bottom & simply throw my camera in on top. My DSLR astounds me with it’s ruggedness & although it’s taken a few knocks and bumps inside the bag it’s never seemed to mind. I usually have the front pocket stuffed full of junk like tissues, a book, keys, etc. which add a little extra padding between the camera and the outside world. My extra lenses lived in North Face base camp travel canisters which I lined with some bits of foam padding from the box one of the lenses was delivered in. This keeps them waterproof & padded and I just throw whichever ones I think I’ll need into the backpack with the camera. Although I wouldn’t recommend it I have flown this whole set up on a short-haul flight in the hold (checked-in) luggage with the camera packed in the middle surrounded by clothes & it all survived without a scratch.

Note that the lens sizes quoted above are all referring to an f2.8 lens. Don’t forget to shop around for the best deal, as well as online retailers many high street shops have sales on at the moment so there are some bargains to be had! And, of course, if you’ve got a great camera case to recommend or a terrible one to warn us against let us know in the comments.

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