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Articles Tagged: Travel

Prepping for the Panoramas class

iPhoto face recognition gets a workout

Camera Obscura on a Greek island

When I was doing research for the last trip to Greece I read that there was a camera obscura on the island of Aegina, one of the Saronic islands that are close to Athens and easily accessible by ferry boat. I looked up websites for the camera obscura and saw what looked like a familiar location. When I was a kid in high school in Athens I used to go to the islands with friends to explore and hang out. Near the little town of Perdika in Aegina we discovered some old World War II German bunkers that were still largely intact.  As it turns out, the camera obscura is actually built on one of those bunkers.

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As I climbed up the the hill toward the round structure that sense of geographic flashback confirmed that this was the same place. The mostly empty observation bunker had been clad in a new wooden skin and fitted with a row of holes around the circumference. Unbolting a heavy metal door led to a small alcove and through an overlapping set of black-out drapes. The inside of the small space was so dark that I couldn’t see whether there was a floor or any obstructions and had to wait for my eyes to adjust before stepping all the way in. Around the top half of the cylindrical room are a row of rear projection screens, on them are upside down live images of the surrounding scenery. The effect is really pretty stunning. The moving sea, blue sky and peaceful Greek island landscape are projected as a live panoramic movie inside this building of war.

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Panoramic photo of the interior is made up of 8 images at 1/8 second, ISO 6400 shot with the Nikon D600. I didn’t have a tripod so these are handheld and stitched together with Auto Pano Pro, then cleaned up in Photoshop. Angle covered is about 340 degrees. I propped the door open and pulled the black out curtains apart a little to let some light in and show the building structure. Normally it would be black except for the glowing screens. Exterior pano is 6 images. Link to a good definition and history of the camera obscura.

Travel Tip

Travel Tip: Next time you’re hiking on a barren island of volcanic rock (in this case the dormant Nea Kameni of Santorini, Greece) and you want a souvenir piece of lava to take home (even though there are signs insisting “don’t remove the rocks”) you might not want to drop it in the same pocket with your sunglasses.

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Number one reason to use a filter on your lens.

This is why you might want to have a filter on your lens! One day, at the end of a beginners workshop, one of the students had a Tamron 70-200 f2.8 zoom that was making some scary rattling noises. I gently pulled off the lens cap to reveal a shattered filter. The lens had taken a hard hit on its front edge. I carefully unscrewed the filter and the slightly bent mounting ring, pulled out the shards of glass and blew off the remaining glass powder. All was well. If the filter hadn’t been there would have likely been serious damage to the lens itself.

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Patience pays off at Volcanoes National Park.

I was in Hawaii a few weeks ago on vacation. Well, a vacation with 40 pounds of photo gear. . . .  My wife and I were blown away by Volcanoes National Park. We were told to come back around 6:30 to see the glow from the lava pit. By 7:00 it was still not much to look at and by about  7:30 it was so dark that I had to manually focus on the glow. The clouds and stars were barely visible to the eye. I tried some long exposures and got a nice surprise. This is a 2 minute exposure which turned out pretty nicely.

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