Archive for January, 2017

Stepping It Up: 15 Spectacularly Sculptural Modern Staircases

31 Jan

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]


More than just a means of advancing from one level of a building to the next, staircases are an opportunity for drama and sculptural flair, like a permanent art installation built into the structure. Spiraling toward skylights, carved into a building’s exterior or planted with lush gardens, these incredible modern staircases are the defining feature of the houses, museums and offices the occupy.

Experimentarium by CEBRA, Denmark



This incredible 328-foot-long helix staircase by CEBRA at one of Denmark’s top science centers is made of 160 tons of steel and 10 tons of copper, spiraling up through the four-story atrium.

Salvador Dali Museum by HOK, St. Petersburg, Florida




At HOK’s Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, a stunning surrealist design befitting the artist being honored contains a spiral staircase that curls up toward the skylight even when the stairs end, like a vine stretching toward the sun.

Victoria & Albert Museum Stairs by Stuart Haygarth, London




Pieces of colorful framing typically used to frame art in museums becomes art in and of itself in this staircase installation by UK designer Stuart Haygarth at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Nearly 2,000 feet of cut-off framing pieces are joined, sanded and painted “to create a work akin in 3D graffiti on a traditional staircase reminiscent of the yellow brick road in ‘The Wizard of Oz,”” as the designer explains.

Interrobang Building by Bang by Min, Seoul



Rarely is a modern structure – particularly one shaped like a tower – so defined from outside by its exterior staircases. The firm Bang by Min ‘carved’ a staircase into the concrete block of the Interrobang mixed-use building in Seoul.

The Living Staircase by Paul Cocksedge




Commissioned for the creative office development Ampersand in London, ‘The Living Staircase’ by Paul Cocksedge features integrated planting areas along the balustrade as a functional garden.

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Stepping It Up 15 Spectacularly Sculptural Modern Staircases

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[ By SA Rogers in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]

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ONA releases new style bags and accessories for mirrorless users

31 Jan

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Premium camera bag brand ONA has announced a set of new small bags and a wrist strap that are aimed at compact system camera users. The Bond Street is an upright bag designed to hold a single body and a couple of lenses, or three or four lenses while the camera is in use or on a strap. The bag has a large flap-over cover which is secured with a locking clasp, while the padded interior comes with a single adjustable divider. ONA offers the Bond Street in black or ‘antique cognac’ leather, or in a ‘smoke’ grey waxed canvas.

A second bag, called the Beacon, is shaped more like a tripod case, but features a pair of zip-up compartments for lenses, accessories or small cameras. Three dividers allow the bag to be converted from a single compartment to four, so a small tripod can be accommodated or four CSC-style lenses. The case has a carry handle as well as a removable shoulder strap, and is made from black ballistic nylon with leather trim.

The company is also to begin sales of a leather wrist strap called Kyoto, which it says is strong enough to support cameras up to 6lbs – though it has been tested to 10lbs. The underside of the strap, which ONA says is made from the same leather as is used for its bags, is suede-lined for comfort. The Kyoto comes in black, ‘dark truffle, and ‘antique cognac’.

The Bond Street bag is set to cost $ 219, while the Beacon will be $ 149. The Kyoto wrist strap will be priced at $ 49. All will be available from January 31st.

For more information see the ONA website.

Press information

The Leather Bond Street
Camera Bag and Insert
Suggested Retail: $ 219

Handcrafted with full-grain leather and antique brass hardware, the Leather Bond Street is our most compact bag—for your camera, everyday essentials, or both. Designed specifically for mirrorless and instant cameras, the Bond Street adapts the style and function of our popular Bowery bag into a smaller silhouette that comfortably holds a camera and 1-2 lenses. The Bond Street features a closed-cell foam padded interior, a removable padded divider, and a zip pocket on back perfectly sized to fit your smartphone, batteries or other small goods. Like the Bowery, the Bond Street can also be stowed as an insert in a larger bag by detaching the strap.

Exterior Dimensions: 9”Hx7.5”Wx4.5”D I Weight: 1.7 lbs Colors: Antique Cognac (ONA5-064LBR), Black (ONA5-064LBL). Also available in Waxed Canvas: Smoke (ONA5-064GR)

The Kyoto
Leather Camera Wrist Strap
Suggested Retail: $ 49

The Kyoto camera wrist strap is handcrafted from full-grain premium leather left over from the material used to make ONA’s premium camera bags. Designed for the photographer who needs their camera at-hand without wanting a traditional strap, the Kyoto wrist strap is lined with suede, reinforced for strength, and padded for comfort. A steel key ring clasp and a leather scratch guard allow for compatibility with most cameras; the strap is intended for camera kits up to 6lbs and has been stress-tested to 10lbs.

Colors: Antique Cognac (ONA062LBR), Black (ONA062LBL), Dark Truffle (ONAO62LBL)

The Beacon
Lens Case
Suggested Retail; $ 149

The Beacon lens case is a first-of-its-kind, combining the silhouette of a vintage lens case with the function, style and flexibility of ONA’s camera bags. The Beacon is designed to protect up to four lenses and small accessories, utilizing a close-cell foam interior and customizable padded dividers. For the photographer or creative who needs more flexibility, the Beacon can also hold select camera bodies, 360 and action cameras and small tripods. Highly durable and water-resistant, the Beacon is handcrafted from premium 1050D ballistic nylon and features full-grain leather accents and solid brass hardware. It features two large zippered openings, a small accessories pouch and a removable strap to protect your lenses in a suitcase or attached to a larger bag.
Exterior Dimensions: 4″Wx18″Lx6″H (with handle) I Weight: 1.7 lbs
Colors: Black Nylon (ONA5-058NYL)

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Sony SLT a99 II first impressions review

31 Jan

Photokina 2016 proved to us, with the announcement of the a99 II, that A-mount isn’t dead: it was just waiting for the right tech to show up for its next big release, like the 42MP BSI-CMOS sensor that debuted in the a7R II. So much more than an a99 with a new chip, the a99 II’s improved specifications aim to put it in the same company as DSLRs like the Nikon D810 or Canon 5D IV, and full-frame mirrorless cameras like Sony’s own a7r II.

Key features

  • 42MP BSI CMOS Imaging sensor
  • 399 on-sensor PDAF points + dedicated PDAF sensor with 79 points
  • Dual SD card slots [UHS I]
  • 12fps continuous shooting in Raw with C-AF
  • 4K UHD 100Mbps recording, and 8-bit 4:2:2 4K output over HDMI
  • Picture Profile settings with Log gamma curves
  • 5-axis in body image stabilization
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

The weather-sealed body features a dedicated PDAF sensor separate from the imaging sensor that has light directed to it via a mirror, like a traditional DSLR. Unlike a DSLR, this mirror doesn’t ever flip out of the way. Instead, it is semi-transparent and sends only part of the light to the dedicated AF sensor, and lets the rest of the light pass through to the imaging chip. The camera can use both of these AF systems where they overlap, creating a Hybrid Cross Type AF system that should deliver both speed and accuracy that Sony hopes will match the best systems out there.

Also, the fixed mirror means AF readings can be taken with the dedicated sensor even while the shutter is firing, which should result in high ‘hit’ rates even at the maximum 12 FPS burst shooting. The downside is the loss of around 1/2 stop of light, something that the impressive 42MP sensor shouldn’t mind too much.

The a99 II also boasts some impressive video specs, which should be enhanced both by the camera’s ability to continuously autofocus in video and by its in-body image stabilization.

All of these features are controlled via a re-worked menu system that color codes sections and categorizes settings by which aspect of the camera they are adjusting, like Flash or Autofocus. Do all of these improvements transcend the inherent pitfalls of SLT technology?

Review History
31 Jan 2016 Introduction, Specifications, Body & Design,
Operation & Controls, and Image Quality pages published.

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Get to know the Compass Camera, an ultra-compact pocketable film camera from 1937

31 Jan

The quest to make a ridiculously small, yet still fully-featured camera is not a new one. For historical examples, look no further than the Compass Camera. Made by Swiss watchmaker LeCoultre, it was designed by Englishman Noel Pemberton Billing and sold by Compass Cameras of London starting in 1937. It features a collapsible design and accepts 24x36mm plate film (a roll film back was later introduced).

Take a look at the video above for a full tour of the camera. Only around 5000 were produced, and they’re now highly sought after by collectors. In fact, you can pick one up now on ebay if you have $ 7450 to spare.

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Benjamin Von Wong takes aim at coal pollution with post-apocalyptic photo shoot

31 Jan
Shot on the Phase One IQ3, Schneider 35mm | ISO400, 35mm, f/8, 1/400 with Broncolor Move & Siros. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

Benjamin Von Wong’s latest project doesn’t pull any punches. For this shoot, he collaborated with the Wasteland Warriors – a pair of artists who pay homage to a Mad Max-style post-apocalypse by creating custom clothing and props. Von Wong began planning the shoot months ago, hoping it would bring awareness to the impacts of global reliance on coal. When the political climate in the US shifted and then-President Elect Donal Trump called for a return to coal, it all seemed suddenly very timely.

Shot on the Phase One IQ3, Schneider 35mm | | ISO100, 35mm, f/6.3, 1/200 with Broncolor Move & Siros. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

The concept envisions a future where oxygen is a precious commodity, controlled and traded by Mad Max-style soldiers. The backdrop is a mining museum in Germany called Ferropolis, and the dramatic setting is complemented by Wasteland Warrior’s custom props and elaborate costumes. 

Shot on the Phase One IQ3, Schneider 35mm | ISO800, 35mm, f/12, 1/640 with Broncolor Move & Siros. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

Per usual, Von Wong provides plenty of behind-the-scenes information, including a post-apocalyptic lighting demo. For the shoot he used a Phase One IQ3 and Schneider 35mm lens. And yes, he did use smoke bombs on the set for effect. He acknowledges how this is somewhat at odds with his message, but ultimately decided it was the only way to achieve the right visual impact and paid a voluntary carbon emissions tax.

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In his blog post, Von Wong makes it clear that he doesn’t believe this truly the future for the US. 

‘To be fair, I don’t expect our country to ever become this polluted. That would be an unrealistic and improbable projection even if President Trump completes his promise to save jobs and bring back “clean coal.”

Yet despite that, coal still presents some very real risks if we ignore what science tells us and turn our backs on developing sustainable, renewable energy.

I think we can all agree that coal is a finite resource that will only carry us so far. Shouldn’t we focus on the future and not dig up the past?’

Does Von Wong’s message come through in his photos? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Apple selling more Plus models than ever

31 Jan

Apple’s financial results, which will be released tomorrow, show that in Q4 2016 Apple has sold more iPhone 7 Plus units than any of the preceding Plus models in previous years. The Plus model has a larger screen, more RAM and a bigger battery than its standard counterpart but we’d suspect the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera with its 2x optical zoom factor and portrait mode has a lot to do with consumers increasingly opting for the more expensive iPhone variant. Overall 24 million iPhone 7 Plus units have been sold which is a 55% increase compared to the 15.5 million iPhone 6s Plus in Q4 2016. This represents 40% of all iPhone 7 sales.

This is also the first time that users in China bought more Plus devices than standard iPhones. 52% of iPhone buyers opted for the dual-camera model. With the previous iPhone 6s generation only 40% decided to go with the larger version. 

Despite good news for the iPhone 7 Plus, overall the iPhone has been struggling in the fourth quarter of 2016. According to analysts Cowen & Co, the Apple results show that consumers are less willing to upgrade their device than before and rumors about a 10 year anniversary iPhone model in 2017 made some users skip the 2016 model. Like all mobile manufacturers, Apple is under constant pressure to innovate. At least in terms of imaging the 7 Plus dual-cam looked like a step into the right directions. Let’s hope Apple can follow up on it 2017.

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Adobe Creative Suite 6 has been officially retired

31 Jan

Adobe has officially put Creative Suite out to pasture, making Creative Cloud the exclusive means by which consumers can acquire Photoshop, Illustrator, and other Adobe creative applications. The move was inevitable, but not without its controversy. Confirmation of the transition comes from Adobe itself, which updated the CS6 Web page to announce that the product has been retired.

The Web page now states that, ‘Adobe creative apps are available exclusively through Creative Cloud.’ The page also reveals this change officially took place on January 9. Adobe announced its transition to a subscription-based model in 2013, and in 2015 provided the last CS6 Camera Raw update. 

For the moment, Lightroom 6 is still available for purchase as a standalone application. It’s priced at $ 149 for a full license.

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Telemetry: Tessellated Paper Sculptures Marry Art and Engineering

31 Jan

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]


Abstract geometric paper-based sculpture may seem like an unlikely medium for the expression of scientific principles, but when the artist is also an engineer, there’s an underlying layer of meaning lost on the casual observer. It’s okay if you don’t get what these pieces represent: Matthew Shlian’s tessellations are beautiful to look at, impressive for both their intricate forms and their precision.



Shlian has a new show called Telemetry currently up at Florida Gulf Coast University as part of the FGCU Art Galleries’ third year of Crossroads: Art and Science Residency and Exhibition. Founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the artist creates large-scale installations as well as drawings, and frequently collaborates with scientists at the University of Michigan.




“As a paper engineer, my work is rooted in print media, book arts and commercial design,” says Shlian. “Beginning with an initial fold, a single action causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately manifest in drawing and three dimensional forms. I use my engineering skills to create kinetic sculpture which have led to collaborations with scientists at University of Michigan.”



“We work on the nanoscale, translating paper structures to micro folds. Our investigations extend to visualizing cellular division and solar cell development. Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific principles; I see their inquiry as a basis for artistic inspiration. In my studio I am a collaborator, explorer and inventor. I begin with a system of folding and at a particular moment the material takes over. Guided by wonder, my work is made because I cannot visualize its final realization; in this way I come to understanding through curiosity.”

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East Coast? Late March? Come to Reading, PA.

31 Jan

Hey folks, just a quick heads up that I will be teaching at the Dynamic Images Photo Conference in Reading, PA, on Saturday, March 25th. The conference is put on by the Berks Photographic Society, a rather large camera club that has been doing conferences for 58 years.

Reading, PA is within easy reach of Baltimore, Philly, New York and Intercourse. So if you are looking for something to do on the last weekend in March, there is a whole three-day roster planned with concurrent seminars, workshops, shooting sessions, etc.

My afternoon talk will be a similar approach to that of The Flash Bus tour back in 2011. (Evolved a bit, of course.) So if you missed that, now’s your chance to get a few hour’s worth of start-from-zero flash photography firehose. It’s suitable for beginner through intermediate level lighting photographers, so please do not be intimidated by the planned pace.

I am but a Saturday afternoon cog in the three-day weekend machine. There are lots of other things going on, with multiple instructional paths from which to choose happening at once. The entire three-day weekend is $ 169, but you can get 10% off by using the coupon code “dynamic.”

The seats are opened to their membership first, so if you want to attend I would get on it sooner rather than later. Full info is here.

Hope to see you there. I’ll be the guy in shorts.

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DPReview and the TWiT Network team-up to talk cameras

31 Jan

On Saturday, DPReview made a guest appearance on The New Screen Savers, a popular show from the TWiT Network (named after its flagship show, This Week in Tech) hosted by technology guru Leo Laporte and guest co-host Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times.

In this episode, DPReview editor Dale Baskin joins Leo and Andy to discuss the resurgence of analog technologies like film and instant prints.

What topics would you like to see us discuss in the future? Let us know in the comments!

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