The MC Zenitar 16mm fisheye


The messy political conclusion to World War II had an interesting and beneficial impact for photographers.  With four nations occupying the ruins of Germany, each country quietly began attempts to loot the decimated Nazi empire of all its valuable scientists and technology.   While the majority of their efforts were focused on trying to capture high-value German military scientists in the field of rocketry, aeronautics and nuclear research, there was also a campaign of direct seizures of German commercial designs, industrial trade secrets and manufacturing equipment.

The Soviets, having overrun a Carl Zeiss factory in Jenna, claimed the existing designs and tooling to all the pre-war Zeiss optics as war reparations and began manufacturing copies of Zeiss lenses and rangefinders at their own factories, Krasnogorskiy Mechanicheskiy Zavod in Krasnogorsk just outside of Moscow and Zavod Arsenal in Kiev, Ukraine.  While the quality control and finish details of Soviet manufacturing were far below the German Zeiss standard, the Zenitar and Kiev photographic lines they turned out eventually found a secondary market in the west with quirky and adventurous photographers.

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Shooting a Wedding for free

Professionally, I’ve shot one wedding before and it was a complete nightmare.  I was somewhat roped into it by a coworker at the last minute and I ended up shooting the whole thing with a Nikon D200, a Nikon SB600 flash, a Nikon SB800 flash and the wretched Nikkor 18-200 VR zoom lens.  I had very little experience on the equipment, zero experience shooting a wedding and zero room for failure.  Although the pictures were mostly acceptable from an artistic perspective, I would never put myself in that sort of situation again.

The flowergirl was a ham.

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A sea-change in copyright attitudes?

Right-wing blowhards, sensing impending defeat began to bang a drum of vilification against Barack Obama in 2008.  Tossing around loaded terms like Marxist and Socialist, they tried to use vintage red-scare tactics to link the rapidly fading fear of communism with the Democratic presidential candidate.  Much to their delight, amid a tepid campaign a portrait of Obama by artist Shepherd Fairey emblazoned with the word “Hope” found its way onto tee-shirts, stickers, posters and fliers, all embraced by a youthful movement of supporters.  The image, which drew direct inspiration from soviet era propaganda posters, incensed the extremist right who marveled at the masses plastering the picture across the US while failing to intellectually connect the communist-inspired imagery with the communist-inspired fears they were attempting to sow.


The political rebuke of the aging republican party that followed in the presidential election of 2008 signaled a changing of the guard in the political landscape signified by the death knell of the red scare.  Less about one political party over another, the future will likely show this to be a contest more based on generations then ideology, and for the observant student of copyfight culture, this moment also marked a growing change in the attitudes towards the very concept of an artistic or creative copyright.

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Photography rights in public spaces

I walked around Eastern Market in DC yesterday with my wife and some friends.  It was a particularly overcast time of the day, with sparse photographic opportunities, but I was determined to snap a few shots before heading home for the day.  I encountered this painter below in a deep conversation with a young art student.  (on a side note, I really need to get some monitor calibration going here)

Click to see a larger version

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Minor Misconceptions about Color Temperature

I stumbled across this post on “White Balance Reloaded”.

I don’t mean to be critical of the site for propagating slightly inaccurate information because the post is very good information for the amateur photographer, however I believe that they oversimplify and repeat some misconceptions about light color that serve only to obfuscate one of the most fundamental aspects of image capture.  Camera manufacturers are somewhat complicit in this simplification of lighting color by using Kelvin numbers as white balance settings, but it’s important to remember that “Color Temperature”, “Color Balance” and “White Balance” are all different things.

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Know your limits


I am an artistic person.  I am a creative person.  I am NOT an artist, and I am certainly not a designer.

The topic for the day it to know your limits because the logo above proves the value of this concept to me.  I could not create the logo above, and the fact that it pieced together from such obvious yet elusive elements tells me that there is so much to design that I could never understand in my lifetime lest I dedicate myself to becoming a designer.  Our dear friend Sara Tomko gifted us with a new logo for our site “the Fashionable Foodie” and she knocked it out of the park on the first try.

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