Thursday, June 30, 2016

Larger Than Life

A harvestman cuts an intimidating figure, here silhouetted against a sunlit leaf in the Hofma Preserve in Grand Haven, Michigan. Also known as daddy longlegs, these creatures are often mistakenly labeled as spiders. Though both spiders and harvestmen are arachnids, harvestmen are closely related to the scorpion.

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Apple patents system for disabling cameras in no-photography areas

Apple has been awarded a patent that describes a mobile camera technology that can interpret infrared signals, which could then be used to disable the camera from recording at events like concerts, among other things.

An infrared transmitter would send encoded data to the device, which would be processed by the phone. Depending on the application, the device may temporarily disable its built-in camera in locations where photography and video capture are forbidden, for example music venues, classified company areas or museums. With the system activated a 'RECORDING DISABLED' message would pop up on the smartphone screen when the user tries to take a photo or video. The patent even mentions the ability to add a watermark to any images or video captured when certain infrared signals are detected. 

The patent also describes use of this technology to provide additional information or visuals in a different scenario: for example, an art gallery. Pointing a smartphone camera at an IR transmitter positioned next to a painting could provide more information on the device's screen about the artwork. The patent also mentions applications in retail environments.

There is understandably some concern about how and where such systems would be implemented. Arguably, most people would be fine with concert venues protecting the intellectual property of their acts or companies preventing industrial espionage, but there are concerns that the technology could also be used to undermine the freedom of the press. As usual, the existence of a patent does not necessarily mean we'll ever see the final product, but in this case it might be worth at least keeping an eye on how the idea is being developed further. You can read the full patent document on the USPTO website.

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Fotodiox releases new LED studio-in-a-box

Fotodiox has announced a new LED Studio-in-a-Box, designed to make it easy to create simple macro and product images on a tabletop. Aimed at Etsy and Ebay sellers just as much as macro and still life enthusiasts, the Studio-in-a-box comes in four sizes, from 16x16" ($69.99) all the way up to 28"x28" ($119.99). Each model comes with an integrated ring of LED lights, and four plastic, wrinkle-free 'cyclorama' backdrops.

  • Comes with Integrated Daylight LED Lights (~85 CRI) & Diffusion Panel
  • Folds up into supplied carrying case
  • Four sizes available: 16x16", 20x20", 24x24" And 28x28"
  • Comes with four choices of backdrops: blue, gray, white and black
  • 24 Months Manufacturer Warranty

Press Release:


Fotodiox Pro Announces Lightweight, Portable LED Studio-in-a-Box for Tabletop Photography

Fotodiox Pro, creator and distributor of several lines of specialty solutions for videography, cinematography and photography, has announced the LED Studio-in-a-Box: a lightweight, fold-out kit that provides tabletop photographers with a fully-contained environment for shooting clean, professional images.

Ideal for small business owners, artists, retailers and independent Etsy and eBay sellers, the LED Studio-in-a-Box comes equipped with built-in LED lights and a removable diffusion panel for maximum control and ease of use. Available in four different sizes, the LED Studio-in-a-Box can be purchased now on

The LED Studio-in-a-Box can be set up by photographers of any skill level in well under five minutes, with no need for tools, and folds down flat after use. The kit includes four plastic, wrinkle-free “cyclorama” backgrounds in black, white, gray and blue, as well as a removable diffusion panel and an integrated ring of top-mounted LED lights for a powerful, even glow. Perfect for macro photographers, professional tabletop photographers and artisans, the LED Studio-in-a-Box saves an enormous amount of time and space, and allows any user to shoot dynamic, expertly lit images with any type of camera, including smartphones.

To learn more about the Studio-in-a-Box and Fotodiox Pro’s additional photography and filmmaking accessories, please visit View unboxing videos and product demonstrations via

About Fotodiox

Serving the photo and video markets since 2004, Fotodiox Pro is a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality, professional and affordable photography and filmmaking accessories. Known for such products as the WonderPana wide-angle filter system, the Vizelex ND Throttle adapter series, the ever-expanding line of award-winning GoTough accessories for GoPro cameras, and the groundbreaking FlapJack LED Edgelights, Fotodiox Pro is also responsible for bringing the CamDolly Cinema System – the industry’s first truly portable, modular dolly system for professional videography gear – to filmmakers in the United States.

For more information about Fotodiox Pro, please explore online at,, and

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How to Use a Travel Photography Shot List to Come Home with Better Photos

Checking off your travel photo listWant to bring back travel photos that your friends actually enjoy viewing on Facebook? Want to make sure you don’t miss anything when visiting a new culture? Then it’s time to make a list!

We all have our easy ruts we fall into when photographing, but travel, for me, is about expanding my view. That’s why I take a travel shot list and try my darnedest to get at least one of each shot when visiting a new location.

What’s on my list?

Here are some tips for you to help make a travel photography shot list for your next trip. Feel free to use my list and add to it with your own ideas.

1 – People – old, young, and in-between

Spread out your people photos between age ranges. I’ve seen a bazillion images of old ladies from Cuba, while often missing are people like me; middle aged and fairly normal, even a bit boring. Round out your people photos with more variety, is all I am saying.

Portraits in Bhutan

What’s not to love about those shoes and that smile?

Kids are an easy target as they often love having their picture taken. You will need to be aware, though, that not all parents wish for their children to be photographed. That’s the crux of it; parents worry how the images this stranger just took will be used. Sometimes all it takes is a simple “Hello” first to the parents to gauge if taking photos is okay. If language is a barrier, you can also point to your camera, then to the children with an inquisitive look on your face. Either way, no matter the answer, respect the parent’s choice.

Peruvian kids

Kids playing in Inca ruins, Peru

Delhi street market scene

Street scene in Delhi, India with people my age.

Men at Red Fort, Delhi, India

People watching at the Red Fort, Delhi, India

2 – Food – preperation, presentation, social aspect

Food brings us together. It’s a basic need we can all relate to, even if we don’t know exactly what we are about to eat.

Cooking at a Sikh Temple

Inside the commercial sized kitchen at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

Don’t just shoot the Instagram-worthy image of a plate of the amazing new delicacy you are experiencing, find a way to shoot the preparation of food. Get behind the counter (where it’s allowed) to see how it’s cooked, and where it comes from. As you plan to share these photos (why else are you taking them?), you may find that a large, and often hidden, swath of your friends and followers have a strong interest in food prep.

Buddhist monastery kitchen in Nepal

The full kitchen at a monastery, high in the Himalayas of Nepal

3 – Architecture – old, new, juxtaposed

In some locations the old and the new architecture matches, Bhutan comes to mind. I watched artisans paint a brand new home with traditional patterns and motifs from the nearby 400 year old monastery. Everything there fit a certain style.

Buddhist Temple in Punakha, Bhutan

Looking up at the Punakha Temple, Bhutan

Then we have countries making vast changes from the old style to what constantly evolves as modern – think of Tokyo or Dubai. Look for the differences even where you think there is just one style.

4 – Water – how is it used?

While food brings us together, water is even more vital to our lives. In California we are familiar with our current drought, but forget that not every place has this problem. Some places are quite extravagant with their use of water, while it is a scarcity in others.

Water in use in Nepal and India

Scarcity of water in Kathmandu means water lines, while a woman in Varanasi, India, washes her clothes in the river.

How do the locals use water? Do they wash their laundry in the rivers? Are there fountains everywhere? Are their cities built along waterways, or with vast ports?

Infinity pool and Dubai

An infinity pool 23 stories up in the Burj al-Arab, Dubai, UAE

Old water storage tank overflowing and leaking

In the woods of Oregon, there is often way too much water.

5 – Transportation – private and public

How do people get around? At home we have our patterns, and often don’t see the other forms of transport we might use. But when you travel, it will hopefully be obvious how the people there transport themselves.

Tuk-tuk ride at night

Tuk-tuks in Amritsar, India, are the easiest way to get around town.

It might a passel of buses, camels, rickshaws, taxis, or Maseratis.

Also, how are goods moved? Does your location have shipping traffic and a lot of cargo? From continent to continent, the methods for moving goods from here to there can be vastly different.

Boating on the Ghanges River

Boating along the Ghanges River in Varanasi, India

6 – Commerce – macro and micro

When I think of macro-commerce I think of things like whole industries like: agriculture, tourism, and banking.

With micro- commerce, I think of markets and vendors, where money actually changes hands. Who’s selling what, and who is buying? Is there a special technique to transactions?


Try to capture both the large scale, and intimacy of commerce, and show how things may be very similar, or very different from what you are used to back home.

7 – Nighttime

When the sun goes down, don’t stop shooting! Learn to find light, and exploit its unique qualities during the night. Maybe you have some moonlight or some neon in your location. No matter the source, there is still light at night.

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, at Night

Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Utah, USA takes on a new look at night.

Does your location shut down when the sun hits the horizon? Or does it rally for an all-night bender?

I found the markets in Aqaba, Jordan come to life once the heat of the day was done. I also found that the town had way more neon signs than I ever expected, but hadn’t bothered to notice while touring in the daylight. Get out at night and explore.

Noel in Aqaba, Jordan

Neon in Aqaba, Jorda


8 – Religion

How different parts of the world practice religion has always fascinated me. There isn’t a single part of this globe, that does not have some nod to the local religion, in some aspect of their lives.

Minaret of a mosque in Oman

Colorful minaret in Jebel Shams area of Oman

It may be subtle, such as a small altar to burn incense, or it could be the overt repetition of churches across a city. Travel is a time to break out of your routine and try new things. Stick your head (respectfully) inside a temple. Tour a mosque. Visit a cemetery to see the influence of religion on those in the past.

Buddhist monks in ceremony, Bhutan

Photography inside many Buddhist temples in Bhutan is banned, but on the night of this retreat for monks from all around the valley, I was allowed to shoot the ceremony.

Military tombstones and flags located in Eastern Washington, USA

Military tombstones and flags located in Eastern Washington, USA

9 – Landscapes – natural and manmade

I love landscapes, so they come easy to me. But, I have not always been a fan of cities and people. So, it takes me some effort to really appreciate the organization and layout of a nice cityscape. But it’s always worth it to bring back a mix of both in your images.

View of Canyonlands National Park at sunset

No people to see. Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA.

Photographers and Cho Oyu, Nepal

A few people give a sense of scale to Cho Oyu, the 6th highest mountain in the world, Gokyo, Nepal.

Sunrise view of Seattle, Washington and Mount Rainier

Here there are a lot more people in Seattle, Washington, USA

I am reminded of the craze for photos of Iceland. I’ve seen my fill, and rarely was a single cityscape in the mix. Black sand beaches with ice, waterfalls, all that stuff shows up – but most photographers have left out the manmade landscape. Include it! At least once.

10 – Icons – clichés big and small

I know people who refuse to shoot iconic locations. “They’ve been over shot and I wouldn’t be caught dead shooting them,” is a common refrain. Ignore those people.

Taj Mahal and reflection

The classic Taj Mahal view.

You’re traveling, so have fun. Shoot the Eiffel Tower if you’re in Paris. Hit up Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, and why not get a reflecting pool image of the Taj Mahal, or a cigar smoking lady in Havana? Do it. Get a posed photo of Masai Mara villagers, a llama in front of Machu Picchu, pretend to push over the Tower of Pisa.

Heck, even get a photo of that same waterfall everyone else visiting Iceland has shot.

That being said, you probably shouldn’t share only the cliché shots. Unless you’re on assignment to shoot something highly unique, go ahead and hit the clichés, then move on to the rest of the list. Better yet, look around your cliché location for something new to bring back and share.

Tourists at teh Taj Mahal

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The new ROAM-e $400 selfie-drone has a rather unfortunate design

The idea of a selfie drone isn’t all that unique any more.  Many drones come with a “follow” mode for just this sort of thing, and it’s the Hover Camera’s sole purpose in life.  The new ROAM-e, though, does have something of a unique appearance. Described by The Verge as the “flying phallus” (I think that name [...]

The post The new ROAM-e $400 selfie-drone has a rather unfortunate design appeared first on DIY Photography.

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Review: Voigtländer 10mm f/5.6 Hyper-Wide Heliar (Sony E-Mount)

How wide can an ultra-wide go?  It’s a question you’ll find yourself asking when you get ready to mount the Voigtländer 10mm f/5.6 Hyper-Wide Heliar: the widest rectilinear lens ever made for a camera. As soon as you look through the viewfinder with this lens mounted, you’ll have your answer: almost unfathomably wide. The 10mm [...]

The post Review: Voigtländer 10mm f/5.6 Hyper-Wide Heliar (Sony E-Mount) appeared first on DIY Photography.

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Local Photographer Wants To Share His Passion By Helping Teen -

URBANDALE, Iowa –Photography is growing in popularity in the metro, especially among young people. Now, one local photographer wants to help an aspiring one get the right gear. Photography is a passion for Mirza Kudic. "It's just beautiful. It's art ...

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EyeFi to drop support for some cards. They will ‘magically’ stop working on September 16, 2016

I’m a bit disappointed by this one.  I’ve been a huge fan of Eye-Fi cards for several years and own and use several cards. Now, they’re taking planned obsolescence to a whole new level by effectively making most of their past products useless in one fell swoop. As of today, Eye-Fi will no longer be [...]

The post EyeFi to drop support for some cards. They will ‘magically’ stop working on September 16, 2016 appeared first on DIY Photography.

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Canon told me my 24-70mm f/2.8L II was beyond repair. I asked for it back and fixed it myself

I was shooting some images of the icebergs on the black sand beach by the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland with a rental EF 24-70mm F2.8L II. Iceland is notorious for being windy, and while I was shooting there was blowing winds carrying ocean spray and water splashes all over me and my camera + lens. [...]

The post Canon told me my 24-70mm f/2.8L II was beyond repair. I asked for it back and fixed it myself appeared first on DIY Photography.

from DIYS

EyeFi to drop support for some cards. They will ‘magically’ stop working on September 16, 2016

I’m a bit disappointed by this one.  I’ve been a huge fan of Eye-Fi cards for several years and own and use several cards. Now, they’re taking planned obsolescence to a whole new level by effectively making most of their past products useless in one fell swoop. As of today, Eye-Fi will no longer be [...]

The post EyeFi to drop support for some cards. They will ‘magically’ stop working on September 16, 2016 appeared first on DIY Photography.

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How I Fixed a 24-70 f/2.8 Lens Canon Said was ‘Beyond Repair’ for Just $140


A little while ago, I was shooting the icebergs on the black sand beach by the Jokulsarlon Glaicer Lagoon, Iceland with a rental EF 24-70mm F2.8L II. Iceland is notorious for being windy, and while I was shooting there was blowing winds carrying ocean spray and water splashes all over me and my camera + lens.

Unfortunately, it seemed that sea water got into the lens either from the autofocus switch, the “weather seal,” or the extended barrel when you zoom out. After a short while, the lens stopped autofocusing and I began getting errors about connecting to the camera.

My worst fear had happened. I could see the lens was soaked with water. I was so focused on composing that I had forgotten to check the equipment conditions.


I immediately disconnected it and let it dry, but after a full day of drying, the autofocus failed. The iris was working fine and i could take a photo no problem, but I had to keep the lens on manual focus.

I explained my case to the shop when I returned the rental, but a few weeks later after they sent it out for repairs, Canon replied that the lens was damaged beyond repair due to sea water and nothing can be done. They planned to send the lens to recycling and I would have to pay the full price. I agreed, as it was in my possession anyways, but I asked that the lens be returned. So I paid the full price (luckily it had $500 off promo) and took the lens home.

I didn’t really mind it as I already had plans to purchasing this lens, but I couldn’t understand how water damage could damage a lens to the point where it was “beyond repair.”

I opened the lens and found that the parts affected were only the PCB (later I found some salt stains in the USM motor), so I went on eBay where I found an original new OEM PCB assembly for this lens for just $36. Then I got a new USM focusing unit as well (also on eBay) for $90. Total with shipping: $140.

To my surprise I was able to fully fix the lens and it works perfectly fine now. I wrote this step-by-step visual guide on how to fix this lens for any kind of water/focusing damage, or just as a general repair guide for this lens. The weather sealing is rather piss-poor, they use gaskets… but if I didn’t ask for the lens, this would have been a perfectly salvageable lens gone to recycling and I would have paid full price for nothing.

I hope this guide will help you fix your lens one day or even show you how to replace critical components.

DISCLAIMER: Opening up your lens will void your warranty. I am not responsible for any damage you cause by following this guide. Proceed at your own risk.

Step 1


First, wash your hands. Next, be calm and patient. Lenses are precision devices and you need to be patient. Please ensure you have the required tools as shown above.

You will not need to de- or re-solder anything. And please for the love of photography and DIY, use magnetic screws. If one screw slips and falls inside the lens assembly, it will be a nightmare to find it.

PLEASE be very gentle and careful, if something (except Step 4 might require some strength) doesn’t come out easily, you are probably doing something wrong—check that all screws were removed or try turning the barrels to a better position. I apologize, I don’t know the number for these screwdrivers (they’re not marked and they come from a set I had a while back). I put them next to a Canadian 10 cent coin to show the sizes you will need.


This is what a new autofocus unit looks like. I forgot to take a photo of the PCB before assembling this guide, but you will see it below in other pics.

Step 2


Remove the rubber ring by sliding the flat head screwdriver and pull it off.

Step 3


Remove this screw that holds the position encoder. This is hidden under some tape.

Step 4


The only part that might be fiddly. Insert the screwdriver between the contact PCB and this plastic cover, then lever it up gently.

Step 5


Remove that peasant cover that uses no screws… grrrr!

Step 6


Using the smallest phillips screwdriver, remove these two tiny screws first.

Step 7


Remove the 4 screws as shown above.

Step 8


Gently lift off the metal ring, note the “weather seal” gasket will come off as well. Store safely.

Step 9


Gently lift off this plastic cover.

Step 10


This is the PCB board exposed. Don’t remove the screw yet!

Step 11


This is nightmarish and the trickiest part. GENTLY remove these princess ribbon cables. Don’t use squeezing tools, you might break it (happened to me in the past) I use this screwdriver trick and gently pull it out perpendicular to the socket.

You can use tweezers, but make sure the tips are rubber coated.

Step 12


Then remove this screw. Had you removed it first, you could have damaged the princess ribbons since the whole assembly will start moving.

Step 13


Pull out this out very gently to avoid breaking the princess ribbon cables. (screw ribbon cables, seriously!)

Step 14


This is where the water got in. Damage is visible… it probably shorted the board’s chip. Chuck this piece away. Funny enough, I couldn’t find any other places with salt water, maybe some stains on the USM motor, but I wonder if I really had to change that part… (Really Canon? This is what you call beyond repair?!)

Step 15


Once the board is removed, you will find 12 screws in a ring. Remove all of them.

Step 16


Gently pull out the top cover barrel, that’s where the autofocus switch is. You might have to zoom out completely so it comes off. Leave the part with the metal dip.

Step 17


The USM autofocus unit is exposed. These two screws hold the focusing plate, remove these 2 screws and the plate and install them in the same location on your new autofocus unit.

Step 18


GENTLY pull out the USM autofocus kit. Then chuck it away.

One day I will test mine with the new PCB… I have a feeling this part is OK but I wanted to make this lens was new as possible so I thought I would put in a new USM motor and explore this lens for the purpose of this guide.

The problem with electronics is that if the motor unit is shorted, it could short the new PCB so I took no risks and changed both.

Step 19


Put in the new autofocus part. Please pay attention to the metal bar in the autofocus unit and make sure it is to the left-most position in its groove as shown above.

When you insert it, it needs to align with the hole in the lens unit as shown above. The autofocus works by moving this bar, which once in the hole, moves the inner lens element to allow for focusing. Simple!

Step 20


This is what it will look like once you assemble the new USM autofocus unit. Take care of the princess ribbon cables.

Step 21


In case you forgot, please make sure you put the focusing plates back on or else you will have to repeat all above steps again.

Step 22


Put back the top barrel cover, the part that has the autofocus switch. Be careful of hurting the princess ribbon cables.

Step 23


Put the position encoder back in its place and don’t forget to put back the tape over it.

Step 24


BEFORE putting the princess ribbon cables back, put the screw in first. This will make sure everything is held down securely.

Step 25


Nightmare, Part 2: Princess Ribbon Insertion. Most of these cables have an extruded part behind the contacts, you can use a screwdriver tip to push each one in one side at a time, or use tweezers to push both sides in at the same time.

Step 26


Put back the plastic cover, make sure the line aligns with 24mm.

Step 27


Put the “weather seal” gasket back on.

Step 28


Insert the 4 screws first before the 2 tiny ones.

Step 29


Insert the tiny screws and make sure they are securing the contact board to the metal ring.

Step 30


Put back the peasant plastic cover and test the lens! Phew! We are done and we have a perfectly (electronically new) revived EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II : )

Autofocus Test GIF

Gif showing my tests after changing the parts. Hope you this guide and find it useful! Leave me a note if you have a question.

Here is a link to a RAW file I took today after fixing this lens. No optical errors found, as we didn’t go into the optics, which were fine and pretty well protected. Position encoder worked fine, lens is recognized, EXIF is stored. Mission successful!

About the author: Bimal Ramdoyal is a Toronto-based amateur landscapes photographer and full-time software developer. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This guide was also published here.

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