Diver Captures First Full Light Field Underwater Images With Lytro Camera

The Lytro Camera is an interesting piece of technology for sure. Like all cameras, it is adept at capturing images that we can later share with friends and family. But what separates the Lytro from any other consumer camera on the market is its ability to capture the entire light field in any given shot. That means every ray of light traveling through a scene is captured and embedded in the image itself. This gives the camera the ability to do some very unique things, such as changing the point of focus of the photograph or altering the perspective of the shot, even after the picture has been taken. This may sound like an odd concept at first, but once you see it in motion, you’ll realize just how very cool this technology really is.

Recently, Lytro’s Director of Photography Eric Cheng took one of these cameras with him on a trip to Indonesia. As a professional photographer and avid diver, Cheng hoped to be able to snap the first underwater images ever taken with this groundbreaking little camera. Using a specially built waterproof housing, he was able to do just that and Lytro has been kind enough to share the images with Gadling readers.

The photo below is not only a great example of what Eric was able to capture with his Lytro but also an indication of the technology behind the device. If you click on any part of the image, the photo will automatically update its focus to that point. Clicking and dragging gives you the ability to shift perspective a bit, while double-clicking will zoom in on that particular part of the image.

More Lytro photos after the jump!Here’s another image that really shows off what the Lytro is capable of. It features a tiny fish hiding close to a beer can and at first glance it appears to be completely out of focus. You can change that by clicking on an area of the image, sharpening up the photo in the process. And when you click and drag to shift perspective, you get an almost-3D effect that also alters the image dramatically.

Finally, we have this shot that illustrates the cameras abilities once again, this time with the scary face of a lizardfish staring out at us. The focus-shifting and 3D features of the Lytro are put to dramatic effect in this image, which was taken in Indonesia’s Triton Bay.

For a look at more of the images that Eric captured with his Lytro camera, check out the full image gallery here. And to learn more about the Lytro camera itself, visit the company’s website. The device carries a $399 price tag and opens up some interesting and creative opportunities for photographers of all types.

Lytro would like to extend a special thanks to Nauticam, who manufactured the prototype underwater housing, and to Light & Motion, who provided SOLA 2000 video lights for the shoot.

[Photo Credit: Lytro]

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk – Behind the Scenes of BBC’s ‘Life’ with Roger Munns!

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk, episode 19 – Click above to watch video after the jump

For Roger Munns, jumping in the ocean with 100 ton whales while they fight for the female is just another day at work; come with us as we go behind the scenes of BBC’s ‘Life’ series. Roger gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to dive with whales, all while holding his breath and keeping the camera steady.

Click through to check out the interview and see some of the amazing footage he shot while capturing the never-before-seen Humpback Whale Heat Run for BBC’s ‘Life’.

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

Subscribe via iTunes:
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Read more about Roger right here!
Check out BBC’s ‘Life’ series – just in time for Father’s Day!
Find out more about Humpback Whales & heat runs.
Want to see who else is behind the cameras? Check out award winning filming/photography company ScubaZoo.

Hosts: Aaron Murphy-Crews
Special Guests: Roger Munns

Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea

Through the Gadling Lens: 5 of the best travel photographers of all time

I’m in the middle of a crazy travel time: I’ve been to both New York and Chicago in the past two weeks, and there doesn’t seem to be much relief in sight in the upcoming 2 or 3 months: Portland, Atlanta, London and Paris are all distinct possibilities. And while being away from my family for all of these trips doesn’t please me in the least, I can’t help but be a little excited at the prospect of some great photo ops coming my way.

Like most, I often search Flickr and other sites for some inspiration. In addition, I’ve been known to pour through the work of some of my photography idols — Herb Ritts, Annie Leibovitz — the people who got me interested in photography in the first place, to get some ideas. But since I’m in the throes of traveling, I thought that this week, I thought I’d share the photographers who, in my opinion, are absolutely the tops when it comes to travel photography. Greater minds may differ, though, so I hope you’ll challenge me in the comments.

With that, on with the show:

Landscapes: Ansel Adams

I think it’s arguable that Ansel Adams is the most recognizable name in photography — I’d heard of Ansel Adams and his stunning images of Yosemite before I’d ever heard of an SLR camera. According to the official website, American photographer Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco, California, at the beginning of the last century. Originally, he was training to be a professional piano player, but eventually left music to pursue photography. In addition to being a photographer, he was also an avid environmentalist — and his passion for the environment is obvious in his images of Yosemite, and other areas of the Southwest United States.

Of course, the subject matter of Adams’ photographs is pretty breathtaking, but the reason I love his work is not because of his composition, so much as the way he processed the images. Again, from the official website: “Adams developed the famous and highly complex “zone system” of controlling and relating exposure and development, enabling photographers to creatively visualize an image and produce a photograph that matched and expressed that visualization. He produced ten volumes of technical manuals on photography, which are the most influential books ever written on the subject.”

In other words, Adams was one of the first photographers to codify the idea of visualizing the resulting image before you actually squeeze the shutter, and then using the developer chemicals (or, these days, Photoshop) to ensure that the resulting image accurately reflects what you visualized. He was one of the first photographers to think of the image as a form of expression, rather than documentation. And for this, in my mind, he will forever be a rock star.

(For more information about Ansel Adams, be sure to visit the official website.)

Portraits: Steve McCurry

You may not know his name, but chances are you’re familiar with his famous photograph of the young Afghan girl with the piercing green eyes, which graced the cover of National Geographic Magazine in the mid-1980’s. Steve McCurry is an American photographer born in Philadelphia, and graduated cum laude from my dad’s alma mater, Penn State University, from the College of Arts and Architecture. But my favourite part of his official bio describes how his career got its start:

“His career was launched when, disguised in native garb, he crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled Afghanistan just before the Russian invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes of images that would be published around the world as among the first to show the conflict there. His coverage won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise.”

See what I mean? Rock. Star.

I seriously can’t get enough of McCurry’s work, and frankly, he’s my very favourite photographer of those I’m featuring here on this post. In particular, I love two aspects of his work:

a) He is masterful when it comes to understanding colour and light. When you look at his images, it’s clear that the colour palates of compositions are at least as important as the subject matter itself. The light of his images is always breathtaking, and the catchlights in his subjects eyes’ always draw you right into the image; and

b) He is prodigious when it comes to capturing a glimpse of the spirits and souls of his subjects. When you look at his portraits, you’re not just looking at a pretty face, or a weathered expression, you’re catching a glimpse of the thoughts and emotions of his subjects as well. I absolutely believe that this ability of capturing a quick flash of someone’s soul in a photograph is one that is truly a gift, and can’t be taught. But that’s not to say I don’t try to tap into my own ability to do this every single time I click my camera.

(For more information about Steve McCurry, visit his official website. Also? Be sure to check out the posters and fine art prints he has for sale. I purchase the portrait of the woman in Peshawar, Pakistan to hang in my studio for inspiration.)

Wildlife: Jim Brandenburg

American photographer Jim Brandenburg has been a photographer with National Geographic for more than 30 years. As I look through the gallery on Brandenburg’s website, it occurs to me that his portfolio entirely and decisively debunks the myth that all you need to take a good wildlife photograph is a long lens: his images of the animals in the prairies and other wild locations show emotion in these animals; whether it’s the sheer, frozen determination on the faces of the bison caught in the blizzard, or the apparent hysterical laughter on the face of rabbit on Brandenburg’s image, entitled appropriately, “Laughing Rabbit.” In addition, his panoramas of wide open spaces are wonderful studies in colour and pattern and repetition. Really inspirational work.

(For more information on Jim Brandenburg, be sure to visit his official website.)

Architecture: Julius Shulman

If you’ve ever been struck by the way many historic images of mid-century modern houses are shot, chances are you have photograp
her Julius Shulman to thank. Shulman was widely considered the most innovative architecture photographer of all time — and sadly, he died at the age of 98 this month. In the obituary announcing his death in the L.A. Times, the late Robert Sobieszek, former photography curator at the Los Angeles County Musum of Art, described Shulman’s work as follows: “He has a sense of visual bravura of composition, so that he can take a rather mundane house and make it look exciting, and take a spectacular house and make it look triply spectacular.”

His most famous image is the one you can see above, and I can tell you that it must have been a doozy to capture. The multiple light sources — the ones hanging on from the ceiling of the house, the lights of the city below, and the fact that the women seated appear to be lit from a source near the floor as well — makes this nearly an impossible image to expose properly, and yet Shulman does it flawlessly. The women add perfect scale to the image, without distracting. And he did all this without a digital camera. Amazing.

(For more information about Julius Shulman, see his Wikipedia entry, with links to external sites discussing his work.)

Underwater: Chris Newbert

I’m a scuba diver, but one type of photography I’ve just never been able to nail down is underwater photography. I’ve been diving in some of the clearest, stillest water possible, but still — the water never seems still enough to get a sharp image, it’s difficult to hold the camera steady while you’re floating, and the diffused light through the ocean totally distorts colours. I just can’t get it right, and unfortunately, I don’t get enough opportunity to dive in order to practice.

Which is why, I suppose, I’m absolutely blown away by the photography of Chris Newbert. Newbert is also a photographer for National Geographic Magazine, and his images of translucent underwater creatures is breathtaking. Are you looking at those? Incredible. According to his official bio, Newbert has been shooting underwater since the early 1970’s, and has received worldwide accolades for his work. It’s truly breathtaking.

(For more information on Chris Newbert, visit his official website.)

So, that’s my take on the top 5 travel photographers ever. If you have any other photographers you’d like to add to my list, be sure to leave them in the comments, below. As always, if you have any questions, you can always contact me directly at karenDOTwalrondATweblogsincDOTcom – and I’m happy to address them in upcoming Through the Gadling Lens posts.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.
Through the Gadling Lens can be found every Thursday right here, at 11 a.m. To read more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.

Test Driving the Olympus Stylus Tough-8000

When we see “tough” in a product’s name, its got big shoes to fill. Travel bloggers are the sort of people who shred digital cameras, so when Olympus gave us an opportunity to test out the STYLUS Tough-8000, we jumped at the opportunity.

A truly rugged camera should be able to go with you wherever you go. Whitewater rafting in New Zealand, Skiing in Utah, Rock climbing in the Red River Gorge? No problem. It should be able to be sunk, dropped, crushed, and frozen without losing any functionality and it should be able to fit in your pocket. Pretty tall order, eh?

In steps the Olympus STYLUS Tough-8000. Olympus has designed this camera to withstand (almost) any abuse that a digital camera will ever see. It’s waterproof to 10m (33ft), drop proof from up to 6.6 ft, freeze proof to -14°F and crushproof to 220lbf. Recently, we went on a 3 day SCUBA/snorkel trip on the Great Barrier Reef, which turned out to be the perfect opportunity to take the Stylus Tough-8000 on a test drive.

Amazingly, it still works (and looks) exactly like it did when it came out of the box. This recent trip brough, situations that allowed us to test each of the manufacturer’s claims. Mind you — Gadling bloggers would never do anything like test the waterproof claims by submerging it in a pint of Victoria Bitter (the biere familiaris of Australians, not Fosters as an oil can chugging Paul Hogan may lead one to believe.) Nevertheless, each test performed swimmingly.The first thought when taking the Stylus Tough out of the box was that it doesn’t look like a waterproof, super tough camera. Waterproof cameras are supposed to be bulky and bubbly, protected by an excessive amount of Lexan and rubber seals. The stylus looks like any other small point and shoot camera — it’s small and light, no bigger than a pack of cigarettes, albeit slightly heavier at 6.4 oz. The body of this unit was glossy black and gunmetal, but Olympus offers 2 other colors. The camera feels really solid, the case is almost all metal and none of the buttons have any unnecessary wiggle. The back has a huge 2.7″ LCD alongside a pretty standard mode selector knob and 4-way navigation buttons.

The menu system of the camera is incredibly intuitive; playing with exposure settings and macro modes right out of the box was simple. The camera sports a 12 Megapixel CCD and a 3.6x optical zoom. Image clarity is excellent — its not a SLR, but takes good enough images so that only the most discerning individuals would be able to tell.

What about underwater? Taking the Stylus Tough out to the Great Barrier Reef brought out spectacular performance. There are no special modes to activate or switches to flip, you just jump in and start snapping pictures. When taking movies in water, the camera recognizes its environment and switches into a special movie mode that helps equalize out colors. The camera also has an integrated manometer, which tells you your altitude above the waves or your depth below.

Topside, the image quality is everything you would expect from a good point and shoot camera. The auto shoot mode on the camera does a great job adjusting the flash and exposure settings to get the best picture possible. We found ourselves in that “auto” mode ~95% of the time because the camera is undoubtedly better at judging the proper settings. The only times the auto mode struggles are in low light situations; switching over to the scenes menu and picking candlelight mode reconciled those problems.

The Stylus Tough-8000 has three macro modes, and it manages macro shots quite well, even underwater. There is a macro and a “super-macro” mode for close shots, but our favorite mode was the “super-Macro LED”. The camera has a small (but very bright) LED near the lens that helps illuminate your entire macro shot. This mode worked great underwater, particularly in low light situations, where we snapped this picture of a Southern Reef Squid.

As light travelers, one drawback we noticed was in the data link. The connector on the side, known as a multi-terminal connector looks a lot like a mini-USB port. Don’t be fooled though, its not. It’s fully compatible with USB, but your mini-USB plug will not fit. Although the connector supports both USB out and A/V out in one plug, the inconvenience of having to carry around one more cable may outweigh the convenience of having one port.

But look at the bright side. you have a camera that can accompany you on all of your expeditions and can handle getting rained on, dropped, and frozen (and maybe even dropped in beer.) If you like to do things that cameras typically don’t like to do, this is the camera for you.

The Stylus tough-8000 isn’t the cheapest camera out there, but it’s undoubtedly worth the price if you find yourself destroying digital cameras on a regular basis like we do. Right now, it can be found online for about $350.

Innovative product adds an HD camcorder to a scuba mask

Several days ago I wrote about a digital camcorder that was waterproof enough to take on your next diving trip. Of course, the only thing that could be easier, is if you were able to bring your camera with you on every diving trip you take.

That is where the Liquid Image HD Scuba mask could help you. The mask/camera features an integrated HD video camera capable of recording at 720p/30 frames per second.

The mask is rated for depths up to 115ft, and includes 2 LED light attachments for increasing the color and detail which is usually lost as you dive deeper.

The camera has 64MB of internal memory, but any real life use will require an additional MicroSD memory card which adds 1 hour of space for every 2GB of storage.

The Liquid Image HD Scuba series camera mask will be available in Spring, and the suggested retail price is $215.