New York

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A morning with OWS: Why it is important that they don't have any demands

He's been there every day but is feeling left out as other assume the public face of the effortOur lives are bombarded 24x7 by talking heads on cable TV, op-ed pieces in the newspapers, and political ads telling how the world can solve its problems. And so far they haven't gained us much. So it is amazingly refreshing that the OWS (Occupy Wall Street) crowd has no specific goals. Instead, as an amalgam of at best loosely coupled ideas and initiatives, they have started a national conversation on topics that previously were confined to sound bytes and one-way lectures… Read more »

B&H New York City–The Ultimate Camera Store And Then Some

Pl_BHPhoto_0015The last time I was able to visit B&H’s “superstore” in Manhattan was several years ago so I was excited when I got the “cook’s tour” as part of my presentation on wildlife photography there last week. I was blown away not just by the size and selection (after all we live in a land of large box stores) but by the thoughtful presentation and retailing strategies used. The experience is night and day different—and better—than visiting a Best Buy or Fry’s electronics, or even many local camera stores.

First and foremost no one is on commission. So they are there to help you shop but are happy to suggest less expensive options or leave you alone if you enjoy puttering through the numerous exhibits yourself. And the exhibits are organized more like a contemporary museum of technology than like a typical slap dash retail display. Items are all in working order, clearly labeled, and organized in such a way that you can make intelligent comparisons. The HDTVs for example are all adjusted so that they have a similar viewing angle from eye level and you can actually compare their images. Try doing that at Best Buy or Frys!

Value-priced Super-Zoom: Sigma 18-250mm OS Lens Review and Field Test

sp_usopen2011_0057Since its introduction the Nikon 18-200 has been one of the most sought after “super-zoom” lenses. Used not only by amateurs but by many pros for its convenience and high quality images the lens was and is best suited as an “all in one” lens especially for travel. But with time the price has continued to creep up so that the current VR II version is now $800 (and out of stock at many retailers), so it is certainly not a bargain anymore.

So for those with limits to their pocketbooks or without the time to wait until the Nikon version returns to the shelves I wanted to field test a couple of the less expensive alternatives. I’d already seen the images from the Tamron 18-270 that my clients Jim were using in Africa and was impressed by its small size and reasonable image quality. So for this comparison I borrowed a Sigma 18-250mm OS HSM lens. This new version not only has stabilization (OS) but also built-in focusing motors (HSM) although like all the other similar lenses it is designed for use only with APS-C (Nikon DX) format cameras as it vignettes substantially when used full frame—in Sigma parlance it is called a DC lens. [Full frame users can opt for the larger and more expensive Nikon 28-300mm lens as an alternate]

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City Canyons: When Perspective Matters

pl_manhattan_0010Photographs taken at extreme angles—particularly up at tall structures—often look awkward and can make the buildings appear as if they are falling over. This is because when we are part of the scene our eyes and brain correct for the odd perspective and “see” the buildings with their natural shape. But once we are looking at a photograph we don’t have that frame of reference and the buildings and other structures simply appear tilted or mis-shapen. Expensive Perspective Control (PC) and Tilt/Shift lenses have been created to help. However, in addition to being large and expensive PC lenses are usually of limited functionality, without zoom capabilities or stabilization in many cases.

A Day in Manhattan: The Flatiron Building

_adc3064We took advantage of the nice weather this morning while visiting New York to stroll around Manhattan with my editor at B&H, Chris Gampat—who had the day off since the offices are closed for Passover. Chris was a font of knowledge on neighborhood trivia and great places to eat as well as some of the good photo opps. One of my personal favorites is the iconic Flatiron building… Read more »