UWA magic (part II): Foreground and background

Part II of the series on Ultra Wide Angle lenses. UWA lenses will allow for lots of things to find room in the composition. The challenge then becomes to fill the frame with interesting things. To attempt the capture a vast expanse of sand, sea and sky in an open beach is one of the most common misuses of UWAs. The result will be huge white and blue surfaces with no detail and nothing for the eye to latch onto,  and with all likelihood make a dull composition. A strong UWA composition of a landscape requires striking objects in the foreground, an interesting middle ground and drama in the background (e.g. interesting skies or clouds). But there are no rules in creative photography, and breaking the accepted rules can sometimes yield an even more striking effect. All images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S10-22mm UWA lens on a EOS 7D camera. These examples illustrate how a UWA composition can be strengthened from an interplay between foreground, middleground and background elements.

Making science (part XII): The problem with impact factors

I have been around long enough to remember the time when there were no impact factors. (Don’t know what an impact factor is? Read HERE). We all knew that, say, Nature, was more prestigious (or sexy, hot, trendy, impactful, whatever you want…) than, say, JBC. And that JBC was better journal than many (actually many!) other (ie lower) journals. We did not need any impact factors to realise that. And of course this “intuitive” information was used to evaluate job candidates and assess tenure. A paper in Nature was very important, we all knew that, and did not need any impact factors. The problem now is that impact factors  put a hard number on what earlier was an intuitive, soft process. So, now we know that not only is Nature “better” than JBC, it is actually 10.12 times “better”. And PNAS is 2.23 times “better”. That is what has generated so many problems and distortions. The temptation to use those numbers is just too high, irresistible. For the journals, for the papers in them, and for individual scientists. And the numbers change every year. When applied to individual papers this gets totally crazy. Imagine. The “value” of a given paper can be higher (or lower) this year than, say,  3 years ago when it was published. The same paper, the same data. And let’s not get started with what the impact factor has done to innovaiton and creativity. (For a good view on this, read Sydney Brenner’s interview HERE).

Here is an idea. Why don’t we all get together and sue collectively Thomson Reuters for having commercialised (or Eugene Garfield, for having invented) this monster and caused so much havoc?

UWA magic (part I): Perspective

Kicking off a new series on Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) photography.  For this series, we will consider as UWA anything from 10mm to 24mm. UWA photography is wonderful but can be challenging. Exaggerated perspective, distorted edges and weird relationships between foreground and background objects are some of the features that can play for or against the composition. UWA lenses will exaggerate the depth of field, making background objects appear further from foreground ones than they actually are. That’s why UWAs don’t make good portrait lenses, as they exaggerate noses and foreheads. On the other hand, they are ideal to picture people in their environment. UWA lenses add drama to the images and can tell stories more forcefully due to their exaggeration of perspective. The images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm UWA lens on EOS 40D and EOS 7D cameras. These examples illustrate the use of UWA to emphasise perspective in a composition.