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The home of the L-series: We tour Canon’s Utsunomiya factory

20 Mar

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Recently, following the CP+ 2017 show in Yokohama, we were granted the enormous honor of a guided tour through Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory. Canon has been making lenses in Utsunomiya since 1977, and we were the first journalists ever to be allowed to see the L-series assembly line.

Utunsomiya (indicated with the dropped pin) is the capital and largest city of Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern Kant? region of Japan – about 80 miles north of Tokyo.

On February 27th, we made our way from Yokohama to Utsunomiya in the company of several representatives from Canon Inc., and our friends Dave Etchells and William Brawley from Imaging Resource. Click through this slideshow to see what we found.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Plant Manager Kenichi Izuki introduces his team. Of the six ‘Master Craftsmen’ within Canon, two of them work at the Utsunomiya plant. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Mr Izuki explains what the Utsunomiya plant does. As you can see, several different families of products are manufactured in Utsunomiya, from high-end broadcast and EF lenses to components for office equipment.

The 2-story plant itself employs around 1,700 people and covers an area of almost 80,000 square meters (roughly 20 acres). 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Painted yellow lines snake through the corridors of the Utsunomiya factory. These are ‘read’ by robotic carts that carry components to various parts of the plant on pre-programmed routes.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Why, here’s one of them now!

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

One of the two ‘Master Craftsmen’ at the Utsunomiya factory, Mr Saito explains the incredibly fine tolerances involved in the creation of 4/8K broadcast lenses. Canon claims a tolerance of +/-30 nanometers. As such, if one of the finished elements were scaled up to the size of an Olympic stadium, the surface variation would be no thicker than a plastic grocery bag. 

Yes, you read that correctly.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

To make these lenses, first you must make the tools which shape them. In the foreground, on the left you’ll see a steel ‘prototype standard’. Every element in a broadcast lens was born here, from a prototype standard – effectively a ‘master’, rather like a shoemaker’s last, from which the element takes it essential shape. Canon stores thousands of them.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

On the left is the diamond plate, which takes its shape precisely from the prototype standard. This is used to make the lens polishing tool. Each grey disk on the plate is a diamond grindstone. On the right is the polishing tool itself, with its array of polyurethane pads, which is used to polish a single side of each glass element.

Each surface of every element takes roughly 90 minutes to polish, and this is done by hand.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

The grinding and polishing process of broadcast lens elements explained. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

A replica prototype standard, with a measurement tool on the right. The tool is incredibly accurate, and is used to check for surface inaccuracies. Even a divergence of 0.1 microns (1/10,000th of a millimeter) from design parameters would be considered unacceptable.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Mr Saito demonstrates how a diamond plate is shaped by hand, using a large (and very heavy) carborundum disk. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

With decades’ of experience, Master Craftsmen (or ‘Takumi’) can tell when to apply more or less pressure by feel alone. Some processes, like this one, are considered so critical that they must be performed by hand.

It typically takes between 25-30 years before a lens polishing technician attains the status of ‘Meister’, and their experience is essential to the production line. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, an element is being smoothed. Afterwards it will be centered, and then polished. Every day, the manufacturing process uses 400 tonnes of water, which is purified and re-used continually in a ‘closed loop’ system.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Not everything is done by hand. When it comes to EF lenses, Canon is expanding its automated manufacturing capabilities. We were extremely privileged to be shown this lens element polishing machine, which processes glass elements from a raw ‘cake’ of glass right through to final polishing, without any human intervention. 

During our tour, this particular machine was processing elements for the new Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM. From a raw cake of unpolished glass to a finished element the process of grinding, polishing and centering takes about 30 minutes. If this were done in the traditional (non-automated) manner it would take about 3 days per element. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here’s a single element from the Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM at the beginning of its life, as a cake of raw glass. This is what gets fed into the polishing machine. A finished element emerges from the machine every two minutes, and we’re told that all of the non-aspherical elements in the new Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM are processed in this way. 

Aspherical elements are produced using a separate high-precision molding process, which happens elsewhere in the facility, behind closed doors. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Canon is at pains to point out that machines like this can only be created as a result of the Master Craftsmen’s decades of experience. The machines themselves are made in-house too, by Canon’s Production Engineering Headquarters. 

Although there has been a factory on this site since 1977, Canon opened the current building in 2005. According to Masato Okada, Deputy Chief Executive of Image Communication Products Operations, this move provided an opportunity for Canon to completely revamp its lens production methodology.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

After watching elements being polished, the next stage of the tour is lens assembly. Before we set foot in this area of the facility, we need to don coveralls and take a cool, refreshing ‘air shower’ to make sure we don’t accidentally contaminate the production line. Here’s Barney, trying not to brush against the (sticky) walls of the decontamination room. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

This area of the factory is where Canon’s high-end L-series lenses are assembled. Like the broadcast lenses, much of the assembly process for fast prime telephotos is still done by hand. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, a Canon assembly line Meister (her badge tells us she’s been a Meister for 17 years) works on the front assembly of a telephoto prime lens. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

A finished EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM is checked by computer before its final housing is put on.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

‘OK’ – this one passed! You can read up on Zernicke Polynomials here, if you like that sort of thing.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

This finished lens is being checked on a computerized test rig, which measures the lens’s optical characteristics in three positions, across 48 points of a proprietary test chart (which we’re not allowed to show, sorry). The camera is a modified EOS 5D Mark III. We don’t know exactly how it’s been modified, but our guide mentioned some firmware and hardware differences compared to a stock model. 

Interestingly, information about the lens’s optical characteristics is saved to a chip inside the lens itself. This data can be read and updated by Canon if and when the lens comes back for service. This allows information to be gathered about the durability of certain components over time and allows Canon to learn about long-term wear patterns.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Although rarely-used now, some lenses are still occasionally tested partly by using the traditional ‘projection’ method. Here, in a darkened room off to one side of the assembly line a technician (just visible in the background, under the image of the chart) is inspecting the image projected through a telephoto prime lens.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Increasingly, Canon uses automated assembly processes for its L-series zooms, which have a comparably higher sales volume than telephoto primes and broadcast lenses.

Again, the new EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM is at the forefront of developments in automation. Roughly 50% of the assembly process of this lens is automated and Canon tells us that, they’re aiming for 80% automation within a year.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Because the non-aspherical elements in the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM are polished automatically, and 50% of the assembly process is done by machines, the amount of people involved in the manufacture of the new EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM is relatively small. Roughly 10% of the manpower required if it were manufactured entirely by hand, we’re told.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, the view from a tiny camera inside the assembly machine shows a technician what’s happening. A EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM’s focus positioning brush switch is being installed – a highly delicate procedure which requires extremely precise positioning.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

Here’s another one of those modified EOS 5D Mark III lens checking cameras, this time hooked up to a finished EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon’s Utsunomiya lens factory

It passed! We get the impression that very few lenses don’t. From start to finish, it takes roughly 24 (non-continuous) hours to manufacture each 16-35mm.


Editors’ note:

It’s impossible to come away from Canon’s Utsunomiya plant without an appreciation for the vast amount of expertise employed by Canon in the manufacturing of its high-end lenses. One striking aspect of the assembly process of broadcast lenses is how many steps are deemed so critical that they must be accomplished by hand. In the broadcast lenses assembly line we were told repeatedly that ‘this process is too complex to be performed by a machine’.

One of the reasons that Canon’s broadcast lenses are so costly is that as we saw, each element is hand-polished – often by someone with a minimum of 30 years’ experience. Internally, assembling one of Canon’s high-end broadcast lenses is considered among the most difficult jobs in its entire production line.

Manufacturing high-volume EF lenses in this way would be impractical (the wait-times for new models would likely stretch into decades…) but even so, when it comes to fast telephoto primes, much of the process is still performed by hand.

‘anyone that fetishizes the words ‘made by hand’ should try shooting with the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III sometime.’

Perhaps most impressive though is the automation. Canon has clearly invested a lot of time and energy (not to mention money) in automated lens polishing and assembly. We’ve been lucky enough to visit several factories, run by several manufacturers, and Canon’s Utsunomiya plant is definitely the most advanced that we’ve seen. Automation of critical lens polishing and assembly processes makes perfect sense for mass-produced products, and anyone that still blindly fetishizes the words ‘made by hand’ should try shooting with the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III sometime.

Canon’s self-calibrating lens polishing machines (designed and manufactured in-house) are capable of incredible precision, and the data gathered by automated testing and eventual servicing can be used in any number of different ways, to improve quality control over time.

After watching the entire assembly process from lens element polishing to final QC checks, we’re most excited by the possibilities which emerge from Canon’s inclusion of a chip inside each recent lens, which saves data about its own specific optical characteristics.

‘This could allow for… a bespoke ‘lens profile’ to be applied automatically’

As well as data-gathering and long-term quality control improvement, this also opens up the possibility that at some point a lens’s specific optical characteristics might be made available to the camera to which it is attached. This could allow for automatic AF fine-tuning, or potentially even for a bespoke ‘lens profile’ to be applied automatically to correct for optical characteristics unique to that one lens. This isn’t possible right now, but we’re told that Canon is working on making it a reality.

What did you make of this tour through Canon’s Utsunomiya factory? Let us know in the comments. 

You might also like…

Behind the scenes at Fujifim’s Sendai factory (2016)

A tour of Sigma’s factory in Aizu (2015)

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Timelapse Tour: Watch How Cities Grow Between 1984 to 2016

07 Jan

[ By SA Rogers in Culture & History & Travel. ]

google-earth-timelapse-san-francisco

Human civilization has grown and expanded at an amazing rate – or alarming, depending on who you ask – and you can watch the last 32 years of it unfold via satellite imagery thanks to Google’s Timelapse feature. Originally released in 2013, Timelapse has been updated to add four more years of data and tons of new imagery data from two new satellites, offering clearer views with more detail than ever before. Choose any location in the world to see how it has changed – from cities to the shrinking ice caps.

google-timelapse-3

google-timelapse-gif-2

Some of the most dramatic changes have occurred in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dubai and Chongqing, China, but you can also watch the Aral Sea dry up and the Shirase Glacier of Antarctica melt into the sea.

Aral Sea

Miami, Florida

Beijing, China

Las Vegas, Nevada

Shirase Glacier

Hangzhou, China

Look for the location of your choice and create your own annual time lapse at Google’s Time Engine Tour Editor.

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[ By SA Rogers in Culture & History & Travel. ]

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This 4K video tour of the International Space Station is probably as close as you’ll get to being an astronaut

02 Nov

Halloween’s not over yet – NASA has released a 4K treat. The 18 minute UHD video features a fly-through of the International Space Station. Get out your headphones, flip into full-screen mode and pretend your dreams of becoming an astronaut have finally come true.

Related: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams showcases ISS photography equipment

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Singaporean photographer makes 360 degree interactive video of tour of North Korea

14 Jul

A photographer from Singapore has created a navigable 360° video of a tour he made of North Korea. Aram Pan has set out to make a documentary that ‘captures the essence of North Korea through the use of 360° panoramas, photos and videos.’ Through collaboration with authorities in North and South Korea, Aram has gained extensive access to the usually closed country and has been able to tour popular sites as well as meet and photograph local people. See video

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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7 Travel Photography Tips Your Tour Guide Won’t Tell You

14 May

This article is sponsored by the New York Institute of Photography. NYIP offers high-quality online photography courses that are affordable, convenient, and accredited.

Beauty is hiding in plain sight, but only for those who learn to see beyond the obvious. To capture the heart of a region through your lens, you must connect with a place on a deeper level. This often involves slowing down and immersing yourself in the culture of those who call it home. By doing so, you become more than just a tourist with a camera, but a participant searching for truth and understanding. Every corner of this earth has its own unique characteristics, and the successful travel photographer exposes these differences in a way that others can relate to.

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1) Search for Simplicity

It seems counterintuitive, but in searching for clean, simple compositions, your photos will benefit from a new level of sophistication. As Paulo Coelho said,

“Elegance is achieved when all that is superfluous has been discarded and the human being discovers simplicity and concentration: the simpler and more sober the posture, the more beautiful it will be.”

When visiting new places, sensory overload can overwhelm even the most deliberate photographers. This is where a slow, methodical pace will have a big impact on your work. Large bus tours with heavy agendas don’t typically allow the necessary time to capture the look and feel of a place. Instead, try a self guided tour, or a small group that caters to photographers.

chris_corradino_travel_2

2) Include a Human Element

Many photographers struggle with the idea of adding people to their compositions. After all, it can be unnerving to include a stranger in your composition. Yet, by working a human element into your travel work, your photography will become more visually engaging. Not only does it create a sense of scale, but they become more salable for stock photography. You’ll just need to secure a model release in order to do this. With a number of smart phone and tablet apps for releases, this no longer needs to be an awkward exchange of actual paper documents. For the participant’s cooperation, you can offer to send a high resolution copy of the image.

chris_corradino_travel_3

3) Think Small

We all love to shoot scenic vistas bathed in the golden light of magic hour. While these dramatic landscapes can certainly round out a portfolio, it’s what you do with the remainder of the day that sets your collection apart. As you explore a location through your lens, think of yourself as a visual detective. No detail is too small. It’s the little things that ultimately add up to form the bigger picture.

chris_corradino_travel_4

4) No Rest for the Weary

Anyone who says you should pack your camera away midday is doing you a disservice. Contrary to what many suggest, the light is good all day, even at high noon. The trick is to best match the various qualities of light to your subject matter. A rolling green landscape can appear lush and vibrant with the simple twist of a circular polarizing filter. Why limit your photography to the hours around sunrise and sunset?

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5) Plan on Getting Lost

Researching potential shooting locations on the web is an essential part of any pre-trip preparation. With tools like the Photographer’s Ephemeris, you can study the precise time and locations of sunrise and sunset, along with with the moon phase. While this is helpful to create a basic shot list, remember to leave some time for unexpected adventure. Recognize that things will not always work out as planned. Getting lost is sometimes the only way to find what you’re looking for.

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6) X Does Not Always Mark the Spot

It seems that even the most remote destinations have been photographed from nearly every perspective. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot them however. Instead, consider it a personal challenge to go one step further and create something unique. How can you take what’s already been done, and make it yours? It’s this vision that separates your work from the masses.

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7) Explore Beyond Your Zoom’s Range

Zoom lenses give you the ability to change your focal length with a flick of the wrist. This is indeed convenient for many types of photography including travel work. Yet, if you limit your perspective to what the lens provides, you’ll miss out on a number of great opportunities. Travel photography calls for us to explore beyond the end of our zoom range. Let curiosity guide your compositions and the nature of a place will reveal itself.

chris_corradino_travel 8

This article is sponsored by the New York Institute of Photography. NYIP offers high-quality online photography courses that are affordable, convenient, and accredited. Chris Corradino is a paid instructor with NYIP. 

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Prints from first photographed royal tour go on show at Buckingham Palace

15 Nov

A collection of photos taken in 1862 during the Prince of Wales’ tour of the Middle East, showing historical figures and sites, has gone on display at Buckingham Palace in London. Taken by Francis Bedford, who was the first photographer to ever accompany a royal tour, the show comprises almost 100 original prints and documents the progress of the party as they travelled from London to Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. See gallery

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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A guided tour of the Sony QX1 and QX30 smartphone cameras

03 Sep

Sony got a lot of attention when it released a pair of cameras which clip onto a smartphone last fall. They’re really going to raise a lot of eyebrows now, with their QX1, which features an APS-C sensor and E-mount. Yep, an Alpha on your phone. Take a tour of the QX1 and the superzoom QX30 cameras right here.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Audio Hop: Best NYC Art Gallery Tour You Have Ever Heard

20 Aug

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

nyc gallery audio tour

A new way to experience galleries, their artwork and the city they inhabit, even calling it a tour sells short this extremely impressive multimedia experience. Complete with props and layered audio recordings, all interspersed with civic trivia and high-speed humor, the whole Audio Hop production feels like an well-executed piece of dynamic performance art, in which you can play any number of parts. Launching next month, this hop is well worth a stop, a look and a listen.

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earbuds on the sidewalk

miroslaw balka_gladstone gallery

David Behringer, the curator of this experience, is exuberant, knowledgeable and very dedicated, visiting over 250 galleries in Chelsea each month to find the five most worthy ones to show any given group (and rotating with each tour). From start to finish, his personality and enthusiasm make it work. For an simple sample, check out his video recap below showing ten of his favorite exhibits from 2013 – then click here to buy tickets for the program starting next month.

Unlike a traditional audio walking tour, this one features both live and prerecorded sound, all delivered wirelessly to an inconspicuous device, letting its guests meander through the galleries but also break away from the group. The clips include carefully curated and edited interviews with artists and other soundbites related to a given work or its context. “A hidden radio transmitter allows you to hear your guide from any distance (in total secret) AND listen to insightful audio clips of the artists themselves while you’re in the gallery.”

installation art rebar piece

olafur eliasson_tanya bonakdar gallery

Effectively, you and your fellow half-dozen tour-takers feel both empowered to enter galleries that might seem open or feel welcoming you but also liberated from the the feeling of being tied to a traditional clustered bunch of gawking tourists. You can fall behind and linger, or stride ahead to the next stop, all while absorbing auditory input in the background.

nyc gallery wall art

andreas gursky_gagosian gallery

30 out of 30 reviewers on TripAdvisor rated David’s private tours as ‘Excellent’, effectively a unanimous a 5-star recommendation. WebUrbanist’s own Executive Editor had the opportunity to a sneak peak at his new and more-public offering this summer and was beyond impressed – what were individual tours are morphing into something suddenly more accessible.

audio hop chelsea tour

mark di suvero_paula cooper gallery

If it was not already clear: we would strongly recommend taking a trip with David to anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the art world … or simply wishes to take a artfully curated walk through New York City, learning about the neighborhood, its architecture and artwork alike. Even if you are not in the area, you can still check out the blog to learn about fantastic new works.

new york audio tour

rain room gallery installation

Above: The Mots Amazing Art of the Year in NYC, 2012 edition. From TheTwoPercent.com: “New York City contains the highest concentration of contemporary art galleries in human history. The result is the opportunity to enjoy the best art on the planet in a museum-like environment, without the crowds, for free, IF you can sort through the ever-changing 500+ galleries to find the most unique, jaw-dropping experiences. Good news, we found them. You’re invited on an unprecedented live audio experience of the most cutting-edge art in the world.  It’s a secret tour that takes you to the best, lets the artists speak for themselves, and give you complete freedom to wander.”

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[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

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A Different Kind of Photo Tour to Israel with Vibe Israel

06 Jul

I was recently invited on a photo tour called Vibe Israel by a non-profit organization called Kinetis, I wanted to share my experiences of the trip with you.

Who are Kinetis?

Six of us were on this tour of Israel, a tour to show what Israel has to offer to photographers, to show a different side to Israel compared with the one you might typically see in the news. The different styles and personalities of the six photographers on the tour made for a fantastically fun and inspirational few days.

simon-pollock-melbourne-kinetis-tour-israel

Heading down to the Dead Sea with the crew

Travelling with the specific purpose of photography can be a daunting thing, especially with the ever present fear of having your precious camera gear gate checked when you’re about to embark your flight. Is my bag overweight? Will ground crew single me out? Do I look like I’m struggling with this bag? All of these things play through my mind on every flight I’m about to catch, sometimes even when I’m not travelling with a heavy bag! I’ve been very fortunate thus far to have not been stopped for a heavy, or overly large, camera bag at the gate and this trip was no different (although I did have my backpack sent through the Xray machine four times).

I was travelling with a MindShiftGear Panorama camera backpack, the beauty of the Panorama is that you can use both the belt section and the top insert section to put your gear – if you get stopped and asked to gate check your bag, you can pretty much break it down into sections and nine times out of ten you’ll get it through, onboard with your camera gear. The few basic pointers for trying to get you and your camera onboard that I quietly recite to myself every flight are:

  • Smile, but not so much that people think you’re up to something
  • Don’t carry your bag like it’s about to rip your arms off – if it is, you should perhaps rethink anyway
  • Have a plan to take your heaviest camera and heaviest lens out of your bag and hang it around your neck if asked to gate check due to weight – a camera, 99% of the time, will become a personal item and won’t be included in the bag weight
  • Be polite – ground crew have a job to do, so don’t go off at them, it won’t help – I promise you this
  • Insurance really is a good thing! (I’m insured with PPiB if you’re in Australia / were interested)

There’s a lot to be said for only packing what you’re going to need – will I need to take a 100mm macro lens to Israel? Will I use my 5.8mm fisheye? As it happens, I used both of those lenses and I’m glad I packed most of my gear, but I did use a two bag strategy/ Doug Murdoch, president of thinkTankPhoto camera bags writes about it on his blog, a quick interesting read. I had a small laptop bag with my Apple MacBook Air 13″, a WD My Passport Pro 2TB drive for content and all the cables, pens, paper, passports, tickets, etc. Then my camera backpack and my roller bag with my tripod, clothes and another flattened out camera shoulder bag (for short wanders down through markets where I didn’t want to take a backpack) and this combo proved to work really well for me.

So we’re packed, we’re flying, we’re there. I’ve been to Israel once before and was very excited to go back. Arriving into Tel Aviv quite late, then driven to Jerusalem to meet up with the others, we stayed at this great place called Abraham Hostel on the first night (if you’re travelling on a budget, it’s a great place to stay) before travelling across to the hotel we were all meeting at, Dan Boutique Hotel. Thankfully they were totally fine with us setting up Ben’s Broncolor and blasting away on the roof!

On the roof playing with light...

On the roof playing with light…

A quick introduction to the people on the tour: Adam Lerner, Mike Kelley, Rebecca Litchfield, Benjamin Von Wong, Jared Polin and Simon Pollock (me – Hi!). Mike isn’t in the photo above as he likes to go to bed at 8 p.m. every night hehe. The next day, after a tour of the old markets and surrounding area in the old city of Jerusalem, we headed for the Dead Sea, each of us with different ideas for what we wanted to do when we arrived there – fashion, portraits, landscape, it was set to be an epic adventure.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 16mm

Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 16mm

Arriving at Ein Gedi, the rain was starting to set in and with a call time of around 4 a.m., it was pretty much a quick dinner and directly to bed – poor Eyal had to put up with my snoring, sorry Eyal! The rain hadn’t stopped the next morning, and we were told that with the Dead Sea clouded in, it was something people rarely get to see. As it turned out, the road was washed away in a couple of places and we had a pretty hard time getting the models, stylists and hair and makeup folks into the area of the Dead Sea that we were using for the shoot – thanks to some handy local wrangling and a police vehicle, we were all set to go once the weather cleared, and clear it did. Here’s a setup shot and a few photographs from the shoot day at Ein Gedi.

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To give you an idea of where we were…

I was very fortunate to essentially have my own personal guide from epic photo tour company, PhotoTeva which was fantastic as I’m certainly no landscape photographer, but had an amazing time taking in the amazing scenery unfolding before me.

The-Dead-Sea-PhotoTeva-Simon-Pollock-Kinetis

The storm rolled through…

Protecting your gear and keeping it off the deck was pretty important. The water is ultra salty (1/3rd salt, someone was saying) and the ground we were on was all salt – very sharp salt (see, I used the macro lens).

dead-sea-salt-kinetis-simon-pollock-israel

The salty residue was super sharp and happy to cut you up!

dead-sea-salt-kinetis

Anything that didn’t move fast enough was essentially ‘salted’

We only had a day at the Dead Sea and were supposed to head out into the desert to stay together in a big tent. The weather had other ideas and we all piled in the super bus and headed back to Tel Aviv for an impromptu camp out on our new friend, Adi’s floor. A highlight of the trip – impromptu awesome. When you’re travelling on a holiday, and things don’t go to plan, you do your best to make the best of the situation that you’re placed in – this was certainly the case and we had a fantastic evening before checking in to The Diaghilev Live Art Boutique Hotel (which I highly recommend if you’re travelling to Tel Aviv).

The next couple of days were filled with amazing food, adventures and people – rather than bore you with my musings, I’ll tell this part of the adventure in photographs.

Jared, Adam and I visited a fish market where the fish come off the boats and are snapped up by people waiting on the dock.

Adam Lerner, a portrait...

Adam Lerner, a portrait…

The fish market...

The fish market…

We managed a little beach time and happened across a great drum circle!

A Tel Aviv beach...

A Tel Aviv beach…

Addicted to drums...

Addicted to drums…

Von Wong takes flight...

Von Wong takes flight…

Fro Knows...

Fro Knows…

The fish market...

The fish market…

With only a day or two left to run, we had a load more to pack into our schedule, a visit to Israeli photojournalist and Canon Ambassador, Ziv Koren. We spent some time talking to Itzik Canetti, who has developed a nifty laser focus system for photographers, and we were hosted by Wix on our last evening, for drinks on the roof of their building – stunning.

Simon-Pollock-Kinetis-Israel-Ziv-Koren

Simon-Pollock-Kinetis-Israel-Ziv-Koren

Simon-Pollock-Kinetis-Israel-Ziv-Koren

Simon-Pollock-Kinetis-Israel-Ziv-Koren

That was essentially the tour

kinetis-simon-pollock-israel-tour

The point of the photo tour was for us to see a different side of Israel, a creative and vibrant side – and that was exactly what we saw. Lots of tech startup, lots of art and culture, some great coffee and amazing food. If you’re thinking about going somewhere on a photo tour, I’d certainly put Israel on your list! Big thanks to Kinetis and the whole team that made this trip possible. You can learn more about the not for profit work that Kinetis do on their website.

The post A Different Kind of Photo Tour to Israel with Vibe Israel by Sime appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Tour Tiny Worlds: 6-Camera Cube Creates 360-Degree Video

02 May

[ By WebUrbanist in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

3d bike ride video

The ultimate at-home hacker project, this strange small-world effect was created using a half-dozen GoPro cameras, a 3D printer and a technique that turns ordinary panoramic shots into a surreal world-warping wraparound experience.

German photographer, journalist and inventor Jonas Ginter cobbled together his cubic ball of cameras then mounted this oddball creation above his bike, all to generate the effect you see in the video above. Given the accessibility of the constituent technologies (and his helpful instructions), suddenly the idea of 3D video capture is within reach of any enthusiastic hobbyist.

cubic 360 degree camera

The stereographic distortion, while a neat effect, is also helpful in rendering a three-dimensional view into a two-dimensional frame. As for the idea, here is a bit more from the creator (summary translation to follow): “Ich habe mir seltsame Konstruktionen mit Spiegeln angeguckt und frustriert festgestellt, dass das absoluter Quatsch ist. Stück für Stück kam die Erkenntnis, dass ich 360-Grad-Videos nur realisieren kann, wenn ich das Bild in einem Take aufnehme. Die logische Konsequenz hieß also: Viele Kameras.”

3d printed and go pro parts

panoramic creation process illustration

Above, Ginter explains his slow realization that to realize a 360-degree video he would have to do everything in a single take, which in turn means having multiple cameras.  While his takes so far are interesting in themselves, the possibilities are amazing – but consider just the fun consumer applications, like capturing a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree skydive or mounting this on the car roof for a road trip. You can read his summary on Ginter’s website, either in the original German or using Google Translate.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

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