Archive for January, 2016

Bloomframe: Window Morphs Into a Balcony in Seconds

30 Jan

[ By Steph in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]


Transforming from a flat window into a balcony at the push of a button, the Bloomframe design is not only available for purchase after years of design refinements, it’s also set to be the defining feature of an entire apartment building. Amsterdam-based architecture firm Hofman Dujardin won the Red Dot Design Award back in 2008 for the concept, which manages to be both innovative and attractive, eliminating some of the bulk seen in similar designs.


bloomframe 2

Think of it as the balcony version of a Murphy bed: you press a button and something useful pops out of the wall to offer you more space and functionality. Operated by remote control, the balcony looks like an ordinary window, except with an opaque metal panel where the lower pane of glass would normally be. Activate it, and an electric motor drive will extend out the top frame, pushing the lower one down into the balcony’s floor.

bloomframe 3

bloomframe 4

bloomframe 6

The whole process takes about fifteen seconds to complete, and the result is a real balcony with enough space for two people to sit down at a table and enjoy a meal. It was conceived specifically for spaces where traditional balconies aren’t logistically possible, like apartment renovations or warehouse conversions.

bloomframe 8


When a dozens of them are installed in a single apartment building, like Hofman Dujardin’s proposed housing block, the result is a dynamic, constantly changing facade pattern. “In the winter the facade is closed, during spring the facades open like a flourishing flower,” say the designers.

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29 Polished Images of Shiny Things

29 Jan

I think as human beings we are all attracted to shiny things – oh look squirrel! Just kidding.

But they go grab our eye. However, photographing them can be a bit trickier. You have to watch out for reflections, or maybe use them in your composition to your advantage. But you have to be intentional about it as a photographer.

In these images I found of shiny things let’s see how some other photographers handled this tough subject:

Darlene Hildebrandt

By Darlene Hildebrandt (a selfie of mine from 2009!)

Brian Burger

By Brian Burger

Bill Gracey

By Bill Gracey

Sean Molin

By Sean Molin

Lawrence OP

By Lawrence OP

Dave Wilson

By Dave Wilson

Kurt Bauschardt

By Kurt Bauschardt

Alan Newman -

By Alan Newman –

Neil  Kremer

By Neil Kremer


By Kolby

Siggi Churchill

By Siggi Churchill

Cathy McCray

By Cathy McCray

Jon Matthies

By Jon Matthies

*Vintage Fairytale*

By *Vintage Fairytale*


By killerturnip


By Kolby


By Tiago

Darlene Hildebrandt

By Darlene Hildebrandt

> Mr.D Photography

By > Mr.D Photography

Thomas Hawk

By Thomas Hawk


By Mark

Ron Doke

By Ron Doke

Nana B Agyei

By Nana B Agyei

Genna G

By Genna G

Philippa Willitts

By Philippa Willitts


By carlos

Aleksey Gnilenkov

By Aleksey Gnilenkov


By Fatima

Tobias S.

By Tobias S.

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Smog-Sucking Tower Cleans 30,000 Cubic Meters of Air Per Hour

29 Jan

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

smog sucking machine

Successfully crowdfunded last year, the Smog Free Tower has just gone from concept to reality; these machines are now using green energy to create zones of smog-free space in public places in Rotterdam.

smog machine

Daan Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project may not be a complete solution to urban air pollution, but it can at least carve out breathable spaces in key city spaces like downtown squares and public parks.

smog device at night

Each 20-foot tower is lightweight and elegantly designed, running on about the same amount of electricity used by a water boiler (1,400 watts). Their low-energy ionization technology also powers LEDs that light the structures up at night.

smog device detail

The device sucks smog in from above then using a small positive current to charge ions, which in turn attach to fine dust particles.

smog cufflink

smog ring

The particulates processed by the tower are to be compressed and turned into jewelry including rings and cuff links, or packed into transparent cubes, available to crowdfunding backers and others who wish to support the project as it continues to expand and grow.

smog jewelry

smog free zone

New towers are planned for cities in particularly urgent need around the world, including Beijing, Paris, Mexico City and Los Angeles. As a solution to environmental issues in cities, this may only be a first step, but at least it can provide some relief – a breath of fresh air for smog-weary citizens.

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Sigma 20mm F1.4 ‘Art’ lens real-world sample gallery

29 Jan

The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | A is the newest member of Sigma’s family of ‘Art’ lenses. It’s also the widest member of the Art lens family, and with a maximum aperture of F1.4 Sigma claims that it’s the fastest 20mm lens in the world. We shot this lens on both 5DS R and 7D Mark II bodies, and since we had an EOS mount smart adaptor we even tried it on the Sony A7R II as well.

From what we’ve seen so far, this lens carries on the Art lineup’s tradition of stunning performance for the price, although this lens does have some characteristics that might not be ideal for all. For instance, it shows quite a bit of field curvature towards the brighter apertures when focused at nearer distances, and our rooftop shots show this particular copy performs better on the left side than the right side. As soon as an F-mount version of the Sigma is available, we plan on doing a shootout between this and the Nikon 20mm F1.8. In the meantime, enjoy a collection of images from the world’s widest F1.4 lens.

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Nikon Japan announces price increases of up to 18% for lenses and flash units

29 Jan

Nikon has released details of price increases it will implement in the Japanese market from the beginning of March this year. The changes will affect a total of 73 of its DX and FX lenses, as well as three teleconverters. In addition, 21 lenses for the Nikon 1 system will be included, the FT1 mount adapter and six Speedlite flash units along with the systems associated wireless remotes. Newer lenses, such as the recently announced AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G/VR, the 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR, the 24-70mm F2.8E ED VR and the 24mm F1.8G ED are not included in the list. 

The degree of increase varies across the board, but some products, such as the SB-300 flashgun, will face a price hike of close to 18%. Others though will be increased by less than 5%. 

The company cites pressures from increasing costs of raw materials for the price rises, and claims that it has done all it can to absorb the additional costs itself.

As the information was intended only for the Japanese market there is no mention of the rises coming into force in other regions. We’ll update this story with more details as and when we receive them.  

For more information see the notice posted on the Nikon Japan website. 

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Apple patent describes use of curved image sensor to design small camera module

29 Jan

A patent was recently granted to Apple describing how a spherical image sensor can be used to design a very compact camera module. The sensor is spherically curved and eliminates the need to correct for curvature of field, meaning a simpler, brighter and ultimately smaller lens design can be used. Read more

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Pentax continues full frame DSLR tease with two sample photos

29 Jan

In September 2015, Ricoh published a teaser website for a Pentax full-frame DSLR set to launch in spring 2016. Additional teasers have been released on occasion since the website went live, including a new one today. In this latest post, Ricoh has released a pair of sample photos alongside details about the HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 ED SDM WR lens and how it functions with the upcoming full-frame camera.

We got a look at an early mockup of the elusive Pentax full-frame DSLR at CP+ in February 2015. The post below is Ricoh’s latest update on the camera; the new sample photos can be viewed on the Pentax teaser website.

D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR: for well-depicted, fine-detailed images

The HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR lens has a 17-element, 12-group optical construction featuring three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements, one anomalous-dispersion glass element, and three aspherical elements. It delivers high-contrast, high-resolution images with extra-fine details across the image field — from the center to the edges — while effectively compensating for a variety of aberrations.

When mounted on a PENTAX 35mm full-frame digital SLR camera body, this lens can be used as a standard zoom lens, with a zoom ratio of approximately 2.9-times, covering focal-length ranges from ultra-wide angle to standard. It captures unique, eye-catching images with an exaggerated perspective and a wide depth of field, making it ideal not only for sweeping landscapes, but also for confined indoor scenes with limited depth. Its weather-resistant structure prevents the intrusion of water into the interior. When coupled with a weather-resistant PENTAX 35mm full-frame digital SLR camera body, it creates a dependable, durable imaging system that performs superbly even in the rain or mist, or at locations prone to splashing water.

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How to Find Good Locations for Family Portraits

28 Jan

When you’re shooting a family portrait, about nine out of 10 times the client will ask, “Do you have a place you typically like to shoot?”

We all do, of course, but if you take every portrait client to the same location, your portfolio will develop an undesirable, repetitive consistency. So, it’s important to thoroughly scout the area where you live and work, to build a list of go-to spots for any scenario, circumstance, and style.

2015 12 26 0002

Think about your city, and build a list of these places where you can shoot:

  • A field or shoreline with broad vistas to capture the aura and glow of twilight
  • A similar outdoor venue with features like tall grass or trees to provide backdrop
  • An outdoor area with full shade, appropriate for shooting midday
  • A covered outdoor space like a gazebo or covered porch, for shoots in inclement weather
  • An indoor space with high ceilings and lots of windows for natural light

Because most family portrait sessions will include a variety of backdrops and poses, the perfect shooting location contains all of these elements. But that’s rare to find.

Finally, make sure that you have the required permits, permissions, and licenses to shoot in your desired locations, whether they’re public or private (many municipalities require a business license to shoot in public places like parks and beaches).

2015 12 26 0003

Once you’ve built your list of go-to locations, you’re ready to schedule a session with a client. Here are the two scenarios that could play out:

1 – The client has already chosen a location

It’s surprisingly rare for a client to be dead set on a location, but sometimes there’s a family home, or a special place with memories where they’d like to be photographed. Or perhaps there’s extended family gathered together already, and they’d like to keep the photo shoot as easy as possible by having you come to them. If you’re shooting for next year’s holiday portrait or another special event, they may also choose a place that fits the theme, such as an evergreen forest or a snowy landscape.

If you’re not familiar with the location, ask questions about it while confirming the shoot. You may discover that you need to bring extra equipment like lighting to fill in shadows, if they’re hoping for a family portrait underneath a moss-strewn oak tree at two o’clock in the afternoon.

Likewise, indoor shots — such as people gathered around the fireplace or the Christmas tree, for example — may present difficulties with lighting that you’ll want to work out and be prepared for, prior to the actual shoot. When feasible, visit the site of any shoot before arriving for the actual job.

2015 12 26 0005

2 – The client is open to your location suggestions

This is the more common scenario, where you pull out that list of locations you’ve already scouted.

Start by getting a sense of the feeling the family wants to capture in their photos. If it’s a holiday family portrait, they may prefer a warm and rustic theme over something bright and urban, for example. Or they may want a look that’s relevant throughout the year.

Timing will also have a lot of influence over your decision on where to shoot. When possible, schedule sessions for an hour, to an hour-and-a-half before sunset, giving you time to arrive and chat, get the family comfortable with your presence and style, and then be fully ready to capture beautiful, stunning portraits just when the changing light is at its peak.

2015 12 26 0004

Sunset (and sunrise) shoots

For golden hour sessions, just after sunrise and before sunset, choose a location that ideally has both broad vistas, and objects of interest. For example, if you’re shooting on the beach, don’t just choose a spot with wide open beach (plus houses and passersby) – aim to find a section of beach with sand dunes, tall grass, driftwood, or even distant trees. These objects help frame the image and make it more interesting, without distracting from the subjects of the photograph. The same rules apply in a desert, lake, or city park scenario.

Midday shoots on a sunny day

The challenge with shooting at midday is shadows. You don’t want your subjects to squint in full sun, and you don’t want shadows from tree branches, or manmade obstructions, blocking portions of their faces. The key to shooting in midday on a sunny day is to put your subjects fully in the shade.

2015 12 26 0006

When a client wants to schedule midday, I often lean toward urban areas with architectural interest. If your city or town has a historic neighborhood, seek out alleyways, parks, cobblestone streets, or even sidewalks that are shaded at midday, but present a beautiful surrounding for subjects.

Cloudy day shoots

It’s a huge misconception that overcast days are bad for family portraits. Clients may be discouraged by the threat of rain, but encourage them with the news that even cloud coverage actually makes for beautiful outdoor shots — there’s no squinting and nice even light.

But, if there’s no drama in the sky (dark clouds swirling on the horizon), an overcast day may be less exciting when shooting with broad vistas and open spaces. Turn to your surrounding objects (trees, historic buildings) to provide the intrigue in the photograph. Or bring in a pop of color with balloons or other props.

2015 12 26 0007

On an overcast day, a local mural can actually make a perfect backdrop — just make sure your subjects wear muted tones (black, white, gray, beige) rather than colorful attire that might clash with the art.

2015 12 26 0001

Final tips and tricks

Start by putting together your list of places. Keep the same principles in mind that helped you choose those spots, when giving feedback to a client on their suggested locations. In addition, make sure that wherever you decide to shoot won’t be crowded at the time you’re there — the last thing you want is a bunch of strangers in the background.

Finally, be flexible. Not every shoot will be perfect, but it’s your job as the photographer to ensure that your clients have an enjoyable experience. Have confidence in your skills, and work around obstacles as they arise. If you are engaged and the subjects are happy, it’s possible to create gorgeous family portraits that your clients can share on cards, calendars, and gifts throughout the year.

Do you have any other location scouting tips? Please share in the comments below.

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The post How to Find Good Locations for Family Portraits by Hunter McRae appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Magnetically Attractive Furniture & Decor: 14 Floating Designs

28 Jan

[ By Steph in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

magnetic design main

A billionaire who’s really into magnets could fill his entire home with levitating objects, from a bed platform that costs nearly two million dollars down to his clothes hangers, houseplants, lamps, computer mouse and even salt and pepper shakers. While some of these designs are utterly lacking in practicality, others make up for it in fun.

Floating Bed
floating bed 1

floating bed 2

floating bed 3

Tethered to its base with steel cables, a heavy slab of wood levitates in midair, clearly unsupported. Sold as an ‘art piece,’ which appears to be an implicit acknowledgement that few people will ever actually have this thing in their homes, the Floating Bed fittingly debuted at the Belgium ‘Millionaire Fair.” It uses the power of permanent opposing industrial-strength magnets and can hold 900 kilograms (1984 pounds) of weight. A smaller fifth-scale version can be used as a table. Truly a toy for billionaires, the bed version will set you back $ 1.75 million.

Air Bonsai
air bonsai 2

air bonsai 3

air bonsai 4

Everything about this little potted plant looks like an ordinary bonsai – except the fact that the tree is actually floating. Hidden inside the pot and moss ball are two powerful magnets that literally levitate the entire plant above the ‘energy base.’ No optical illusions here. Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the project is called ‘Air Bonsai’ and comes in a range of pots, with plants to be procured locally.

Hovering Computer Mouse

magnetic design mouse

magnetic design mouse 2

mganetic design mouse 3

Designed to relieve pressure on the median nerve of the wrist to prevent injuries like carpal tunnel, The Bat is a levitating computer mouse that hovers 40 millimeters above the pad when not in use, or 10 millimeters with the pressure of your hand. The design was supposed to be released a few years ago after a period of testing, and since that never happened, it seems unlikely it’ll ever be for sale, but it’s an interesting prototype.

float table 1

float table 2

float table 4

float table 3
Push on this Rubik’s cube-like arrangement of wooden blocks and it’ll give slightly and then bounce back, each individual cube separated from its neighbors by an inch or so of space. The tiny steel cables that can be seen between them aren’t holding them up – they’re keeping the whole thing together. The walnut blocks of the Float Table by RockPaper Robot are, of course, embedded with magnets to produce this cool-looking effect. “Each handcrafted table is precisely tuned to seem rigid and stable, yet a touch reveals the secret to Float’s dynamic character.”

Cliq Magnetic Clothes Hangers
magnetic hangers

magnetic hangers 2

magnetic hangers 3

When you need a specific garment, just tug gently on the Cliq hanger by Flow Design, which is magnetically held to any metal clothes bar. Replacing the hooks with strong earth magnets, the hangers each support up to two kilograms of weight and can also be used underneath larger metal surfaces like shelves.

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Magnetically Attractive Furniture Decor 14 Floating Designs

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Olympus reveals faux-leather-wrapped limited edition E-M10 II

28 Jan

Along with the launch of the new PEN-F, Olympus has announced a limited edition OM-D E-M10 II. Wrapped in a tan faux leather, it comes with a matching leather neck strap and a collapsible 14-42mm EZ electronic zoom. In the inside, the limited edition E-M10 II is still offers the 16MP sensor, 5-axis image stabilization and 2.36 Million-dot OLED EVF that earned it a silver award when we reviewed it in August 2015.

The limited edition Olympus OM-D E-M10 II will cost $ 899.99 when it arrives in February.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Specifications

MSRP $ 799
Body type
Body type SLR-style mirrorless
Max resolution 4608 x 3456
Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 17 megapixels
Sensor size Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor TruePic VII
Color space sRGB, AdobeRGB
Color filter array Primary color filter
ISO Auto, 200 – 25600, expands to 100-25600
Boosted ISO (minimum) 100
White balance presets 7
Custom white balance Yes (4 slots)
Image stabilization Sensor-shift
Image stabilization notes 5-axis image stabilization (yaw/pitch/roll/vertical/horizontal)
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Super fine, fine, normal, basic
File format
  • JPEG
  • RAW
  • MPO
Optics & Focus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Yes
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 81
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier 2×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Tilting
Screen size 3
Screen dots 1,040,000
Touch screen Yes (Focus, shutter release, AF point selection, menus, image playback)
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Electronic
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 1.23×
Viewfinder resolution 2,360,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 60 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/4000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic) 1/16000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program AE
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • e-Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Landscape + Portrait
  • Sport
  • Hand-held Starlight
  • Night scene
  • Night + Portrait
  • Children
  • High Key
  • Low Key
  • DIS mode
  • Macro
  • Nature Macro
  • Candle
  • Sunset
  • Documents
  • Panorama
  • Fireworks
  • Beach & Snow
  • Fisheye Conv.
  • Wide Conv.
  • Macro Conv.
  • Panning
  • 3D
Built-in flash Yes (Olympus Wireless RC Flash system compatible)
Flash range 5.80 m (ISO 100)
External flash Yes (via hot shoe or wirelessly)
Flash modes Auto, redeye reduction, fill flash, flash off, 1st-curtain slow sync w/redeye, 1st-curtain slow sync, 2nd-curtain slow sync, manual
Flash X sync speed 1/250 sec
Continuous drive 8.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (12 sec., 2 sec, custom)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes
Videography features
Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (60p/30p/24p), 1280 x 720 (60p/30p/24p), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Format H.264, Motion JPEG
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone port No
Headphone port No
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11b/g/n with smartphone app
Remote control Yes (Optional Remote cable RM-UC1)
Environmentally sealed No
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description BLS-50 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 320
Weight (inc. batteries) 390 g (0.86 lb / 13.76 oz)
Dimensions 120 x 83 x 47 mm (4.72 x 3.27 x 1.85)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes (Up to 999 shots. Can create 4K / 5 fps video)
GPS None
GPS notes via smartphone

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