HDR photo shootout at “Mercado Del Progreso”, Caballito, Buenos Aires

Adjacent to the “Primera Junta” subway station, in the corner of Rivadavia and Barco Centenera, is the “Mercado Del Progreso“, a landmark in the neighbourhood of “Caballito”, one of the most traditional “barrios” of Buenos Aires. The Mercado has been a meeting point for Caballito regulars since its opening in 1889. Today, it retains much of the original charm of its metallic structure and its iconic central ceiling window.

In the morning hours of a regular weekday, Mercado Del Progreso is one of those ideal places for a photo shootout of urban activity in the midst of a historical site.

The selection below was taken with the Canon EOS 5D MarkIII and EF 16-35mm and EF 24-105mm zoom lenses. All six are high dynamic range (HDR) images, merged from 5 different original exposures using HDR Efex Pro 2 from the Nik plugin collection. They were further processed with the Color Efex Pro 4 module to enhance structure, and the  Silver Efex Pro 2 for B&W conversion. Read more...

Making science (part XIII): How not to make science

A newly recruited staff in a research group has her first meeting with the principal investigator, a full Professor,  to discuss projects and tasks to carry out in the lab. During the conversation, it becomes apparent that the so-called principal investigator is nothing more than a former clinician turned science administrator that pretends leading a research group. There are no new projects coming from the mind of this principal investigator.

Go to PubMed and find something interesting to work on”, says the Professor.

Astonished, the newly recruited lab member becomes silent and after a few awkward minutes leaves the room, in shock. Read more...

UWA magic (part III): Strong lines

Part III of the UWA series. Here dedicated to the effect of strong lines in the composition. The examples below have all in common the presence of strong lines guiding the eye towards a point of interest. Sometimes they are just crossing through, inviting the viewer to step inside. The images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm and EF 24mm L f/1.4 UWA lenses on EOS 40D,  EOS 7D and EOS 5DMarkIII cameras.

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. Read more...

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). Read more...

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.  Read more...

Namesake guitar… at last

IbanezPMIbanez guitar company first released the Pat Metheny PM200 model in March 2013. At the top of the Ibanez PM line (which also includes PM120 and PM20), the PM200 is a full-hollow body electric guitar featuring a mahogany set-in neck, maple top/back/sides, ebony fretboard, and a single Silent 58 humbucker neck pickup. It has been widely acclaimed for its rich tone, fantastic playability, and exceptional build quality.  After the acoustic Martin D35 (from 1983) and the cut-away nylon Ovation #1863 (from 1991), it was time for us to update.

Here is a quick sample of the PM200 sound through Roland’s 80W CUBE in Tweed mode with a bit of rev and delay; a beautiful arrangement by John McLaughlin of jazz standard My Foolish Heart (by Victor Young):  Read more...

“A boring Noble Prize” (or a lesson in mediocre science journalism)

At the end of September each year, science journalists all over the world make their forecasts for the upcoming announcement of the Nobel Prizes that take place during the first week of October in Stockholm, Sweden. The week begins with the announcement of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded by the Karolinska Institute. It is followed by the Physics, Chemistry and Literature Prizes. As expected, this activity is all the more significant at Swedish newspapers and TV and radio stations, and this year of 2013 was no exception. Inger Atterstam, from the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, is regarded as one of the most accredited science journalists in Sweden. Her 2013 forecast for the Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize was vast and broad (to be on the safe side, presumably), and included scientists responsible for discoveries concerning the epidemiology of smoking, cochlea implants, treatments against malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, leukaemia and even Bill and Melinda Gates (!) (The nature of the discoveries made by the Gates couple which according to Ms. Atterstam deserved such a high honour was, however, not revealed). Read more...

Making science (part XI): A perverted view of “impact”

Marc Kirschner is the John Franklin Enders University Professor and chair of the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115. He recently wrote an editorial for Science magazine published on 14 June 2013.

Kirschner debunks the notion of research “impact” as the likelihood that the proposed work will have a “sustained and powerful influence”. He writes that: “Especially in fundamental research, which historically underlies the greatest innovation, the people doing the work often cannot themselves anticipate the ways in which it may bring human benefit. Thus, under the guise of an objective assessment of impact, such requirements invite exaggerated claims of the importance of the predictable outcomes—which are unlikely to be the most important ones. This is both misleading and dangerous“. Read more...

Science, Jazz, Photography