Mezzojournal: 7 Days in Palermo, Sicily, Where Life Happens on the Street

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Noting my empty glass, the waiter didn’t even bother asking, he just brought another small carafe of the house red. The first one had disappeared with antipasti and a plate of pasta ca ancióva. The second would be helpful in dispatching the coming purpetti ri sardi, balls of minced sardines, tomatoes and capers. I didn’t ask for dessert either, but the waiter silently placed a bottle of limoncello in front of me, with a mini cannoli, a cookie, and a wedge of watermelon. On the house.

I was in Altri Tempi, a classic trattoria on Via Sammartino in Palermo. After paying the check (unbelievably, only 15 Euros), I suppressed the urge to hug my waiter and headed out into the strong Sicilian sun. I walked through Continue Reading →

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The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Versus … a Two-Year-Old Pocket Camera

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She’s a beaut. (Except for the rubber ring.) Image courtesy of Zeiss.

 

Laaaadieeesss and Gentlemennnn! I have for you the lens test to end all lens tests! Not a mere test, mind you, but an epic showdown, a clash of the titans, the ultimate cage match! Pixel peepers rejoice!

In one corner, wearing all-metal trunks in black with yellow piping, we have the Zeiss Otus 85mm, a lens so sharp the TSA banned it from carry-on luggage. A lens so sharp the state of California passed legislation requiring it ships with a warning label. Diamond cutters in Amsterdam are currently investigating ways to harness its fearsome powers.

A lens of this ground-breaking resolution makes sensor engineers wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. But Sony has risen to the challenge with confidence and quiet dignity. The world’s biggest sensor maker answers the Otus with Continue Reading →

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Photokina: If You Build it, They (the Photo Nerds) Will Come

Here’s a quick video overview of the Photokina 2014 show in Cologne, Germany. It’s the biggest photography and imaging trade fair in the world and happens only once every two years. I just got back from spending five days at the show and there’s a lot of stuff to go through, but I’ll do my best to get it out as soon as I can. Look for another post later this week about an epic battle between one of the best lenses in the world and, well, one of the not-so-best lenses. Which one will prevail? Maybe you’ll be surprised, maybe you won’t. I’m not saying. You’ll be the judge, so stay tuned!

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The Secret to Finding What You Didn’t Know You Were Looking For

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I came across this accordion player while roaming my own neighborhood in Madrid. The man told me that his grandfather bought the accordion when he was a young man in Romania. “It’s 80-years old,” he told me proudly. Photo ©Mike Randolph

Earlier this year a Canadian magazine asked me to write an essay on mobile phones and travel. While working on the piece, I couldn’t help thinking that I was also writing about street photography. The similarities are clear. Street photography involves walking around and waiting (and hoping) to get lucky. That’s what makes it one of the hardest and most frustrating kinds of photography, but when it all comes together, it’s also among the most rewarding. I’m republishing it here in the hopes you find it interesting. -Mike

During a recent session of idle, aimless surfing on the internet, I was interested to discover that apparently I am what the French call a flâneur, which, it turns out coincidentally, is a person who enjoys exploring places in an idle, seemingly aimless way. There’s not much to it. Put simply, you go to some place and you stroll around. Clasping your hands behind your back is optional. Continue Reading →

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Which Pro Camera do you Really Need to Shoot Like a Pro?

Eye on Riga: A bridge in the Latvian capital glows neon indigo as boaters row back to the docks at night. Photo ©Mike Randolph

Let’s start with a little quiz. What one thing makes a pro camera a pro camera? Build quality? Weather sealing? Fast autofocus? Fast motor drive? Dual SD card slots?

Don’t think too long over the answer because it’s none of the above. Continue Reading →

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