Year after year, the digital cameras get sharper and sharper. The latest phones boast ever-higher pixel counts, while DSLRs offer hundreds of features and tools to get the perfect shot.
But that’s not where the really interesting photography is happening. Beneath the shiny surface of perfect pixels, photography is being transformed by a surprising revival in analogue.
‘It is a very different experience, shooting on film’ says Paul McKay, founder of photography boutique Analogue Wonderland. ‘There’s a uniqueness to it. Everyone has digital. Film offers a way to produce different results but also to stand out a bit’.
McKay’s story is familiar: after inheriting his father in law’s 35mm camera, his interest in photography suddenly became an obsession. Like many Millennials, the tangible, physical qualities of shooting on film – and its challenges – absorbed his attention in a way that digital couldn’t. Then he really got drawn in.
‘Outside of London, nowhere seemed to stock a decent selection of film. I lived in Yorkshire and the choices were limited. And there were a huge number of brands that were coming into the market that were very difficult to find. So I started Analogue Wonderland, a home of all things analogue to make it easy for people to get shooting on film’
French photographer Vincent Moschetti, founder of the blog On Film Only, is another convert. ‘I came back from a trip to Iceland with thousands and thousands of photos. But since my job involved sitting all day long in front of two large iMacs, surrounded by screens, I had no energy to process the photos. I gave up. I didn’t even look at the photos from Iceland’ he explains. ‘But I did develop some photos from my disposable camera. And although they’re not the best photos you’d see of Iceland, it was fun. Each shot was meaningful, unlike the thousands of photos I was taking on the digital camera’
‘From the day I saw those photos, I made a choice’ says Moschetti. ‘I sold all my digital gear – all my cameras and lenses – and decided to commit to film for at least a year. So I started a blog about it, documenting my journey into film photography’
McKay and Moschetti symbolise a surprising and growing trend towards analogue photography. At this year’s upcoming The Photography Show, the UK’s largest event dedicated to the medium, a new stage is being devoted entirely to analogue for the first time. It’s a sign of analogue’s comeback.
Photography is a very intimate, personal medium. But the motives behind the return to analogue are widely shared. The benefits of slowing down, of being constrained by the medium rather than having infinite choices, are invoked often. ‘You have to wait for them to develop, you anticipate what they will look like, and that excitement, as a photographer, I had never felt that before’ Moschetti explains.
‘The limits make it meaningful’ McKay agrees. ‘Your options are much more narrow in analogue photography. You can relax into taking the photograph rather than worrying about endless options’
From vinyl to hardback books, board games to craft ale, a backlash against digital has created a rebirth of traditional formats which even a decade ago seemed dead and buried. A generation of ‘digital natives’, accustomed to the power and variety of screen-based formats, seemed poised to consign all the traditional media to the dustbin. Instead, the opposite happened.
McKay’s convincing explanation for this surprising turnaround focuses on how fresh and exotic analogue methods appear to audiences who’ve never experienced them before: ‘The generation that’s coming through, the late teens and early 20s, have never shot film, nor remember their parents shooting on film. They’ve grown up only ever seeing digital, thinking photography is just digital. The idea that it can be a slower, tangible, and artistic form, is new to them – and very exciting’
As the screens in our life multiply, the value of non-pixelated experiences increases. Many people are finding something precious in physical, limited media which demand more of your time and attention. It just feels different.
‘The biggest surprise was in the sensation’ Moschetti nods. ‘Analogue forces you to slow down, to pay more attention to what you’re doing. It even made me slow down as a person and appreciate things for what they are’
Authenticity is another big draw. McKay explains how powerful this urge for a genuine connection can be: ‘When I see people getting into analogue, so often it’s because they’ve inherited the camera from their parents or grandparents. There’s a heritage to them, they’re real historical objects. To be able to go out and use that, compared to a DSLR or a camera phone that needs updating every two years, is special’
So how does it actually change your photography? Moschetti laughs. ‘Well for a start I’m using photoshop a lot less!’ he says. Moschetti recalls spending hours and hours fiddling with his photographs, trying to get just the right effect. ‘Now my photography is more organic. Maybe the photos aren’t better, but they’re more meaningful to me, and that’s what matters’
McKay, whose talk at The Photography Show 2020 is about the huge variety of emulsions available to analogue photographers, emphasises how much you can achieve without digital enhancement. ‘Whatever you have in mind, there is a film for that’ he says. ‘You don’t have to spend hours on Photoshop to get that effect. People sometimes worry that you can’t get interesting effects without digital. It’s like, no, no – you can!’
Moschetti concurs, connecting unlimited options of digital to a decline in creativity. ‘Our brains cannot make decisions with so many choices at hand. Which ISO, which white balance, which lens? It’s too much. Film is self-limiting. There’s more room for you to breathe and have ideas for photography, rather than about the gear or spending time behind the screen. You appreciate photography for what it should be’
Nevertheless, both men agree that there’s still a place for digital. ‘There’s room for both a decent digital camera, phones, and analogue together’ says McKay. ‘The most passionate often own all three. Photography will absorb analogue back into it alongside digital’ he predicts.
So where next for analogue? McKay predicts that analogue will outlive its current boom. ‘Certain aspects are just fads. But what’s come through is structurally sustainable. Things won’t coming crashing down. A lot of the big companies have all revitalized themselves for the new analogue industry. They don’t need to grow massively in order to survive. So I’m optimistic.
Scientists Create Cool New, Nimble and Bug-Sized Drones
Scientists are drawing design lessons from insects to create more resilient, nimble, and tiny bug-sized drones. The new drones move around more freely and are good at surviving hazards like gusts of wind, obstacles, and confined spaces.
Like insects, these tiny drones have a remarkable ability to withstand crashes and to navigate cramped spaces.
Insects demonstrate remarkable dexterity of movement that helps them to move through different environmental conditions. The researchers deployed a new soft actuator that enabled the remarkable drones to survive the ravages of flight.
These robots could one day be useful for delicate operations like pollinating plants or inspecting machinery in smaller spaces.
Drones fly over open spaces where they are not likely to collide into anything or have to move in smaller spaces. Super small drones are different.
Unlike insect-sized drones, regular drones run on motors. Motors are less efficient for tiny drones, so they have to be built differently. The bug-sized drones, a tiny actuator made with ceramic and piezoelectric tools do the trick.
The first micro robots to take to the air were powered by piezoelectric ceramics. But they were not resilient enough to handle collisions. They were fragile compared to bumblebees, which survive the frequent collision. Bumblebees run into obstacles every second.
The team had to swap the harder, more breakable actuator for softer and more resilient rubber cylinders. Thin and coated with carbon nanotubes.
The carbon nanotubes react to live voltage by setting off an electromagnetic force whose effect is to squeeze the rubber cylinder and elongate it. The wings of the drone beat more than 500 times a second in response to the continual contraction and elongation. This makes the drone as resilient as a bumblebee.
These drones are capable of recovering from a collision during flying and carrying out somersaults. The super small drones are super light, weighing about as much as a bumblebee at 0.6 grams. They look a lot like winged cassette tapes. The team is creating another prototype to follow this one. This new prototype will look like a dragonfly instead of a bumblebee.
The soft actuators enable the robot to continue with its flight even after encountering obstacles. This feature means that the robot can navigate cluttered airspace and serve many practical functions that larger, more traditional drones cannot.
The challenge is that the actuators operate on high voltages and they necessitate tethering robots to a power source that is wired. Once this challenge is circumvented, these robots will unlock many possibilities.
Engineers could deploy these mini-drones to carry out engine inspections to make complex machinery more functional and safe. The drone can fly inside a small space equipped with a tiny camera that enables it to look for cracks in the turbine plates of turbine engines. The tiny drones can also help to pollinate crops or help with disaster relief operations by aiding search and rescue.
Some of the Weird Tech Available: Smart Ear cleaner, anyone?
We are now in spring. Flowers are in bloom and the birds and bees are visiting gardens across the country. We wanted to know if we could find some cool tech to improve our experience of birds and nature. It is safe to say that our findings were more than satisfactory.
This is a smart bird feeder. I know. You are wondering why you need a smart bird feeder in the first place. This birdfeeder helps you to get acquainted with the birds that use your birdseed.
You will receive a notification on your mobile phone through an app letting you know that there is a bird nearby.
The smart bird feeder is fitted with an inbuilt camera that turns on only when a bird comes. It also records and photographs the bird as it feeds on your birdseed.
You don’t have to be there physically. You can view the action on your phone through the app. It also arranges the photos in attractive and shareable photo albums.
Bird buddy is a smart birdfeeder that is capable of recognizing more than 1,000 bird species. You can also help science by contributing your findings to an open-source bird population database.
The smart bird feeder is equipped with a built-in microphone that allows Bird Buddy to listen to bird phones and use them to identify approaching birds.
Your app will allow you to manipulate the spy camera as well as feed you with useful information on what to do to draw in new bird species. Your feathered guests will never run out of snacks with Bird Buddy because it lets you know when the birdseed is running low.
From the demo images, it looks like Bird Buddy takes decent pictures. And bird watchers will enjoy a different perspective on their favorite feathered friends.
The only downside to this otherwise amazing contraption is that you don’t want one near a pigeon coop or birdcage because the notifications will be endless.
You can buy Bird Buddy in yellow or blue.
If you are one of those people who find ear cleaning videos oddly satisfying to watch, you don’t have to scour Youtube to find them anymore.
The BeBird N3 Pro is an ear cleaning robot. The smart visual cleaner uses a robotic arm to clean your ears effectively and safely.
Designed by the same company that made the ear spritzer, the Bebird N3 Pro is meant to make ear cleaning simple and safe. It makes one of the important self-care actions high tech.
The robotic arm scoops wax from your ear and removes it without dropping it. You can watch the robot cleaning your ear via a mobile phone app. The robot scoops out all the wax, bleugh, and build-up from the inside of your ear.
A 10Mpixel camera provides High Definition footage of the entire process as well as helps the robot to remove all the goop accurately and safely.
A safety tweezer only removes ear wax when it is open. The ear spoon transforms into an ear cleaning rod when closed.
You can adjust the N3 Pro to fit small ear openings, as well as medium, or large-sized ear openings. It is built to d with in-built 360-degree detection and works with a 6-Axis Gyroscope capable of detecting every move the cleaning tweezer makes, no matter how small.
The manufacturers say that the smart gyroscope keeps the user’s eardrums safe by keeping the cleaning tweezer from going deeper into the ear.
The ear cleaning robot is safe for anyone from age three and up. To make it more comfortable, the Bebird N3 Pro matches your body temperature. So you won’t feel like there is a foreign body inside your ear.
A 300mAh capacity battery ensures that it lasts long. The smart ear cleaner has been taken through a series of safety tests and won certificates for safety.
To be sure though, you might want to run it by your ENT doctor before starting to use it.
The HumBird speaker is the tiniest bone conduction type of speaker that allows you to turn any hollow thing into a speaker.
You won’t get the same volume every time, but the experience is always exciting. You can have a speaker practically anywhere you go.
Weighing in at only 35g, the HumBird speaker is tiny. It works by connecting to your phone or Bluetooth and allows you to listen to any music at a louder volume than your phone.
Find something hollow around you, put the HumBird on it, and you are in business. According to the manufacturers, the HumBird gives you a volume that is up to five times louder than your average cell phone.
It goes all the way up to 115dB and you can adjust the tone quality to suit your preference. Makers of the HumBird recommend buying two of them to create a surround sound experience, thanks to the True Wireless Stereo quality and Bluetooth enabled.
The HumBird is interesting because it can give you a variety of sound effects depending on the hollow surface you place it on. You can try putting it on a helmet, a pot, a plastic storage box, or a basket to see the kinds of sound effects they will give you.
New to 3D Printing? Here are 7 Tips
Not too long ago, 3D printing only existed in science fiction. Today, it is fast becoming part of everyday life, far from the closed world of laboratories and factories.
Today, anyone who is interested in 3D printing can access the hardware at a reasonable price. But even though the technology is more accessible than ever, it is still a relatively complex matter.
Here are our 7 tips for 3D printing:
One of the first things you must learn how to do is to calibrate your 3D printer for the most accurate results. This should be one of the very first skills to learn.
If you haven’t calibrated your printer properly, you can easily end up with everything coming out wrong, including your tester cubes.
Invest in digital calipers that will help you to measure precisely the dimensions of your test object.
Start by printing basic objects like cubes and other objects with interesting angles. Your calipers will help you to check the accuracy of the process.
It will take a while to master the skills to create excellent objects. Get familiar with the 3D printing process and hone your skills with practice.
Get practice by printing out many square cubes measuring 20mm. As you do this, you will also be getting familiar with your device and how it works.
You don’t have to do boring cubes. Cut cross-sections, add hollow items, and these will help you to check the accuracy of the perimeters.
If you are in a hurry, you may find that the reality is far from the expectation. The truth is that it takes some patience and skill to come up with functional print outs.
Give yourself time and embrace the learning process. If you give yourself time, you will become successful at it.
The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts
Once you have made enough cubes, you can move on to more complex objects. One of the best ways to work your way up is to start with complex objects that you assemble manually.
It is easier to print many simpler objects than to print our complex objects. Errors are a lot easier and cheaper to correct without redoing everything.
Computer-aided-design or CAD is a technique for creating the 3d printed designs that you feed into your 3D printer and the designs determine your output.
There are a lot of 3D printers who never learn CAD. But they can only use designs from other people. They cannot come up with their own designs for 3D printing.
Once you learn CAD, you can pursue your 3D printing passion even further.
Starting from a design to a physical end product will give you so much satisfaction.
The 0.25mm Margin Rule
What happens when you print out your designs but they don’t fit together? The 0.25mm rule comes in handy to provide you a margin of error so that all your moving parts fit.
If you plan on inserting a pole into a larger block, the hold should be larger by 0.25mm. This extra 0.25mm is your margin of error.
There are tons of people who have already started 3D printing. If you plug into their online communities, you can exchange information and learn from other people’s experiences instead of making all your own mistakes.
These communities are rich sources of information, inspiration, and designs. 3D printing is a fairly complex venture and you will need all the help you can get.
3D printing is a fun and exciting hobby. Follow these tips and you will grow into a 3D printing expert.
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