New Site Look – Let Me Know What You Think

After a year or so of writing this blog, 38 posts and over 11 thousand views, I felt it was time for some spring cleaning.  As well as a new lick of paint, this theme comes with menus so I can signpost the different categories of posts, making it easier to find what you’re looking for.  Enjoy!

Explore NY: Old Westbury Mansion and Gardens

By Jack Berglund

Less than an hour east of Manhattan, Old Westbury Mansion and its accompanying gardens are well worth a visit.  Old Westbury Mansion gardens have been named as one of the six best public gardens in the United States by Forbes magazine and often referred to as the finest example of an English garden in North America.

   

Whilst undoubtedly stunning, I’d be worried about the state of gardens in the US in general if this is truly the cream of the crop.  In many ways, the Mansion itself stands out more than the garden as one of the finer examples of its type.  The house was built in 1906 for Henry Phipps and family who made his money as an original partner of Andrew Carnegie in the Carnegie Steel Company.  With its 23 rooms, still with original furniture it makes for an impressive place to visit.  More recently the mansion was used for mob boss Dominic Cattano’s house in American Gangster and home to Dudley Moore’s millionaire character in the original Arthur movie.

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New Nikon 50mm AF-S 1.8G Lens

Nikon Rumors is reporting a new 50mm f/1.8 from Nikon. 50mm lenses offer a low cost entry point to experiment with super shallow depths of field and give great low light performance.  Nikon and Canon both have 50mm f/1.8 lenses for under $150 (100 UK pounds).  The ‘f/1.8’ means the lens can be opened to a very wide aperture, which will let in lots of light, ideal for shooting at night without a tripod.  Such a wide aperture also creates a shallow depth of field making it easy to put a subject in focus and have a blurry background behind.

The significance of this new 50mm lens from Nikon is it overcomes a major drawback of the current Nikon current entry level 50mm which doesn’t include a focusing motor in the lens.  This prevents it being used on Nikon’s entry level cameras where it arguably would be most valuable to have a low cost, high performance lens available. The newly announced 50mm lens is marked ‘AF-S’ meaning it can auto-focus on almost any Nikon DSLR. If you’re a D40, D60, D3000, D3100 or D5000 owner and you don’t already have a large aperture 50mm lens, then this is a great announcement for you.  Price has not been announced but most likely in the 150-200 dollar range.

UPDATE 27th April:

  • Official announcement made by Nikon (see press release)
  • Amazon taking preorders.  Price, $219 including lens hood and a case.

Explore NY: Five Pointz Graffiti

By Jack Berglund

They say Golf is the best way to spoil a good walk.  In which case I contend that photography is the best way to make the most of one as you tend to look around and notice more things. Five Pointz is a self proclaimed ‘graffiti mecca’ in Queens New York on the outside of an old factory building.  If you’re in New York, its definitely worth a look in and of its self but also makes a good starting point to explore some of the other neighborhoods nearby.

5 Pointz "Institute of Higher Burnin'"

Take the 7 train to 45 Rd – Court House Sq or the E, M to 23rd St – Ely Av.  You can also take the G train if you believe it really exists (I have seen no evidence to support this, having waited on two different occasions and never had a train show up.)  5 Pointz is right by Moma’s PS1 if you want to take in some art or attend their summer parties while you’re out there.

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The Oscars in Pictures

There were 10 nominations for best picture at the Academy Awards this year.  Here they are with an associated photo from 2010 and a few slight differences from the original titles.  Can you work out the movie behind each title?

 

Exception

 

The Anti-Social Network

 


The Kings Beach


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Apple Aperture 3: Now It’s Cheep, Like a Budgie

By Jack Berglund

Importing, editing, sorting and organizing your photos is time consuming. Everyone develops their own ‘system’ to make it easier but its still a major time drain.  Anything that makes this easier is a good thing in my book.  I use Apple’s Aperture to import and organize my photos and also find I can do 90% of my editing there too.

For those of you not familiar with Aperture (and similar software like Adobe’s Lightroom) it allows you to easily import RAW files, organize them in projects and folders, tag and rate images, make a full range of adjustments (contrast, brightness, curves, levels etc), apply adjustments to the whole image or brush them in selectively and then finally publish to your favorite websites or order prints.   It basically takes care of the end to end process of taking photos of the camera to producing your final selection of nicely tweaked images.

The good news for Mac users is, with the launch of Apple’s App Store this week, Aperture is now only $80 down from $200.  As Guy Richie would say: Its a deal, its a steal, its the  sale of the f#@king century.

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