Lens Effects article from Shutterbug

March 30, 2011

Jim Zuckerman of Shutterbug gives an excellent run-down of lens effects here. He covers the Lensbaby (pictured below), lens flare, star effects, zoom abstractions and a few filters. The entire Shutterbug site is filled with information, reviews, tips and how-tos. A good place to explore if you’re looking to solve a photographic problem or you’d like some inspiration.

“Madonna of the Mills” on HBO: The Fight Against Puppy Mills

March 21, 2011

If you’re knowledgeable about dogs you already know the horror of the Pennsylvania puppy mills that breed stock for pet stores that place profit above all else. If you’re not aware of the deplorable conditions that these dogs are forced to endure, you should make it a point to see the new documentary,  Madonna of the Mills.

A Staten Island woman named Laura Flynn-Amato is the subject of this documentary. She’s just an ordinary dog owner who fell in love with a yellow Lab puppy in a pet store in a mall, bought him and brought him home. Shortly after that the seizures began.

It was while looking for answers to the health problems of her new dog that Laura learned about the puppy mills in Lancaster, PA. Determined to change things, this discovery led Mrs. Flynn-Amato to rescue almost 4,000 dogs over the past five years. Pretty impressive, by my lights.

Photo by Jan Somma-Hammel/Staten Island Advance

Here’s the take-away about puppy mills:


  1. 99% of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.
  2. Nearly 100% of all puppies in pet stores have parasites when they are purchased.
  3. 48% of puppies being sold in pet stores were ill or incubating an illness at the time of purchase, according to a recent California study.
  4. 500,000 puppies are born in puppy mills and sold in pet stores every
    year in the United States.
  5. There are 35,000 pet stores in America
  6. Puppy millers can make more than $300,000 growing puppies every year.
  7. Puppy mills have been around since the early 1960s.
  8. Almost every puppy sold in a pet store has a mother who will spend her entire life in a tiny cage, never being petted, never being walked, never being treated like a dog.
  9. Female dogs are usually bred 2x a year. At that rate, they usually burn out by age 5, at which time they are put to death.
  10. About 1 million breeder dogs are confined in puppy mills throughout the country.


Holga Camera Mods

March 20, 2011

Otto Kitchens is a photographer who has fallen in love with the Holga, a cheap medium-format film camera with a plastic lens originally made in Hong Kong in 1982. Follow his story, and see the artistry that can be achieved with a 25-year old ‘toy’ camera at the New York Times photography blog Lens, here.

For more information, history and a place to buy Holga’s and modified Holga’s check out Lomography’s Holga pages, here. Lomography is an interesting a site dedicated to experimental, analog film cameras and their fans.

If you don’t want to give up the convenience and low cost of your digital camera, you can duplicate the effects of many ‘toy’ cameras with the Mac/Windows app Lo-Fi, retro photography made E-Z.





Tilt/Shift Photography Explained

March 20, 2011

Laurent Hoffman explains Tilt/Shift photography at The Creators Project blog. If you saw last year’s The Social Network you saw an example of this technique applied to cinematography in the opening of the Henley Royal Regatta scene with the Winklevoss Twins (see screen capture below).

Actually, what was done in The Social Network was more precisely miniature faking, which mimicked the still photo process of tilt/shift.

The top and bottom horizontal sections of a tilt/shift image are slightly out of focus and the middle third of the image gives an effect of miniaturization. Smashing Magazine has some outstanding examples of tilt/shift photography on their site, here.

Click on image above for larger size.