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Forget digital – analogue photography is making a big comeback

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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.

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Amazon Echo Link Amp Vs Sonos Amp: Which should you Invest in?

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While choosing between the Echo Amp and the Sonos Amp, you need to estimate both device specifications and features. Both of them are popular and premium options for home installation of wireless listening options. However, Sonos Amp outshines Echo Link Amp in connectivity and audio quality from a one-liner review, but its price is relatively higher.

Looks: Amazon Echo Link Amp Vs Sonos Amp

Both devices are black and rectangular. The Echo Link Amp is one inch taller and broader than the Sonos Amp, making the latter a bit sleeker in appearance and would be the best fit for an entertainment centre.

Both devices have limited front audio controls. In terms of volume, Echo Amp has on the front one volume knob while Sonos Amp got two buttons on each side and a play/pause button.

The HDMI-ARC port for Sonos Amp allows the transmission of audio from the television devices via HDMI to the speaker. The Echo Link Amp has input and output ports, while Sonos Amp offers an output through an adapter plugging in an HDMI port.

Sonos Vs Echo Link Amp

The Echo Link Amp and Sonos Amp produce 2:1 stereo sounds. The Sonos Amp could extend to 4.1 surround sound if wireless Sonos speakers were added, while the Echo Link Amp strictly remains at the stereo output. The Echo Link Amp produces a power of 60 watts to each speaker. On the other hand, Sonos Amp supplies 125 watts to every speaker providing too quality sound to the speakers.

Both devices are great in multi-room audio features. The Echo Link Amp can be grouped with various Echo supported devices while the Sonos Amp does the same, but exceeds Echo Link Amp by streaming audio for the whole home and using any device.

Echo Link Amp does not support Bluetooth devices and line-in casting to multi-rooms. Still, the Sonos supports audio to multi rooms through multiple Sonos Amps connections with a similar network.

Streaming Features: Sonos Amp Vs Amazon Echo Link Amp

The Amazon Echo Link Amp directly supports audio streaming across nine-play services: Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM, Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Sonos Amp, on the other hand, supports 130 music streaming platforms via the Sonos S2 app. Both of them support Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant with their smart assistant capabilities. The Echo Link Amp supports the Bluetooth feature of streaming music from a music device.

The most favored device and the undoubted winner is Sonos Amp. The Sonos Amp outshines the Echo Link Amp with streaming music’s capability via any device as it has wireless expansion capabilities, but in terms of pricing, there’s an edge with Echo Link Amp.

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Wearable Devices to be Fitted with Tiny Micro Supercapacitor

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A tiny micro supercapacitor (MSC) has been developed with a small width as that of a person’s fingerprint that can directly be integrated with an electronic chip. It has attracted great attention like a novel technology leading the Internet of Things (IoT) era as it can be independently driven if applied to separate electronic components.

Professor Sang-Young Lee, In the study and his School of Energy and Chemical Engineering research team at UNIST, has revealed a new class of ultrahigh areal number density solid-state MSCs (UHD SS-MSCs) on a chip through electrohydrodynamic (EHD) jet printing. From the research team, it’s the first study in MSCs to utilize EHD jet printing.

A supercapacitor (SC), referred to as ultracapacitor, could store far more energy than ordinary capacitors. The merits of supercapacitors include longer cycle life and high power delivery compared to lithium-based secondary batteries. It could be particularly produced as tiny as your fingerprint’s width through the semiconductor process. Thus it can be applied for the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables devices.

However, the manufacturing process produces heat that could deteriorate the supercapacitor’s electrical characteristics. It’s therefore been hard to connect them to electronic components directly. The fabrication method combining supercapacitors with electronic components through inkjet printing techniques may, besides, have disadvantages of low precision.

Researchers addressed the issue using EHD jet printing, a great-resolution patterning technique in microelectronics. EHD jet printing operates using electrolyte and electrode to print the same as those of conventional inkjet printing. It can however control printed liquid using an electric field.

‘’We were able to produce up to 54.9 unit cells per square centimeter (square cm) via electro-hydrodynamic jet printing technique, and thus the output of 65.9 volts (V) was achieved in the same area,’’ says Kwonhyung Lee (Combined M. S/Ph.D. of Energy and Chemical Engineering, UNIST), the initial author of the study.

The team also succeeded in fabricating on a chip 36 unit cells (area = 8.0 mm * 8.2 mm, 54.9 cells square cm) and an operating voltage (65.9 V square cm) that lie away beyond the previously reported MSCs under printing techniques fabrication. More so, when exposed to high temperature (80 degrees C), the cells retained normal cyclic voltammetry (CV) profiles. This proves that it can withstand excessive heat produced during actual electronic component operation. Additionally, the batteries could offer customized power supplies since they could be connected in parallel or series.

“In this study, we have demonstrated on-chip UHD SS-MSCs fabricated via EHD jet printing,’’ says Professor Lee. ‘’The on-chip UHD SS-MSCs presented here hold great promise as a new platform technology for miniaturized monolithic power sources with customized design and tunable electrochemical properties.”

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A Tablecloth that Knows what you are Serving

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At Dartmouth College, a team of researchers i developing a new smart textile that is capable of distinguishing between objects.

We already have smart fabrics that detect objects through user touch, but a new textile, Capacitivo can sense nonmetallic objects even without them moving.

Conductive fabric is made into Diamond-shaped electrodes attached to the cotton sheet.

The cloth dubbed ‘capacitivo’ uses these electrodes to detect objects by detecting slight changes in their capacitance.

Nonmetallic objects experience electronic displacements whenever they come in contact with the electrodes. These electronic displacements are different for every object, depending on its permittivity.

The electronic displacement causes a shift in the electronic charge stored within electrodes and changes its capacitance.

The capacitivo, therefore, uses a system that recognizes objects by this shift in capacitance. The system is trained to distinguish these patterns and associate them with specific objects.

Senior researcher Professor Xing-Dong Yang says that the new development could transform how people interact with fabric objects by way of computing.

The system was more successful at recognizing objects like fruit, but not so good at identifying items like credit cards that did not sit on it firmly.

Scientists tested the system with 20 everyday objects, including fruit, lipstick, potted plants, and cheese. It registered an accuracy of 94.5%.

The researchers also found that the object was particularly accurate at differentiating between water, fizzy drinks, milk, cider, and other liquids.

PhD candidate Te-Yen Wu who was the lead author said that the scientific breakthrough could bring about major changes by for example, by reminding people to water plants, for example.

The range of possible applications for this new technology is wide, including locating misplaced items, communicating with other smart systems, suggesting recipes, and giving instructions for food preparation.

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