Astonishing “human camera” or $6 million man?

Panorama of Tokyo drawn by Steven Wiltshire accurately from memory!

Tokyo Panorama by "Human Camera" Steven Wiltshire drawn precisely from memory!

Rome may not have been built in a day – but savant Steven Wiltshire drew a 33 foot panorama of the city in just two days! Wiltshire is not part man, part machine like Steve Austin from the 1970s series: The Six Million Dollar Man. He accomplished this feat (and many more) with his natural, God-given abilities.
Human_Camera_Stephen_Wiltshire

"Human Camera" Stephen Wiltshire

 
What makes this achievement so amazing is that Wiltshire was taken for a short helicopter ride where he observed Rome from a bird's eye view. Afterward, he drew the city center on blank paper. From memory, Wiltshire accurately reproduced the winding streets, buildings, the windows – even the EXACT number of columns in the Pantheon.
 
Wiltshire, who has been called “the human camera,” has the incredible ability to recall minute details of anything he has seen and then reproduce them in drawings. He was born mute. At the age of three he was diagnosed as autistic. At the age of five, Wiltshire attended Queensmill School in London where he expressed interest in drawing where he began to communicate through his art. At the age of eight, he started drawing imaginary post-earthquake cityscapes and cars.
 
Wiltshire has also drawn New York City, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London on giant canvasses.
 
To read more about Stephen Wiltshire, see more of his work and order paintings and gifts, visit the Stephen Wiltshire web site.
 
So how good is your re-call? I can't remember where I parked my car at the grocery store! Please leave your comments on this post.

Your pet’s photo could be on AAA’s Petbook AND win prizes

Monet - Cairn Terrier
Monet was one of many cherished pets in our home. She didn't do well in a car so she never went on vacation with us.

Do you love your pet so much that you take him on vacation? If you answered “yes,” do you have some really cool or crazy photos of him taking in the sights?

Even if you don't have pet photos from past vacations, there's still time to squeeze in a trip and grab some cute photos of Fido or Tabby to enter in AAA's PetBook Photo Contest. Entry deadline is November 30, 2011.
 
Two winning pet photos, chosen in January 2012, will be featured on the cover and spine of the AAA PetBook, published in May 2012.
 
The first place winner, featured on the back cover, will receive $300, a $150 Best Western Travel Card (valid at any Best Western Worldwide), pet treats and five copies of the book. The second place winner, featured on the book's spine, will receive $150, pet treats and two copies of the book.
 
Check out the Photo Gallery to see who the winners and runners-up were for 2010. For information on how to submit your photo, visit AAA's PetBook Photo Contest page.
 
Entries are judged on such artistic qualities as photographic composition and ability to convey the joy of safely traveling with a pet. Candid compositions are preferred over posed, and studio photographs or those determined to be significantly altered will be disqualified.
 
What kind of pet would you enter? Do you have something unusual like a snake or frog? Please leave your comments on this post.
 
Good luck and let us know how you do!

Top 5 ways to convert old photos and slides for computer viewing

Photo Restoration

After converting photos for viewing on a computer - enhance them with color and exposure adjustments. Photo restoration can repair cracked, torn, stained and faded photos. Call 440-748-6300 to schedule your FREE photo repair estimate.

By guest blogger Kathleen Hubert

If you’ve ever dug up an old photo of a forgotten time and marveled at the simplicity and beauty of the good old days, you’ve probably wished you could keep those memories inside of you forever without worrying about damage or decay. The good news is that now, with digital preservation technology, you can! Converting old print photos into digital format is now easier than ever. Not only will it preserve your memories safely, but it will also help you to cut down on all the clutter in your attic. And your photos will be available for your viewing pleasure any time you like without a huge attic exploration process. Here are a few ways to get this done.

Flatbed Scanner
The best way to turn your old photos into digital gems is with a flatbed scanner. This technology requires very little technical skill and almost always produces top quality results. A flatbed scanner features a lid covering a glass top, underneath which a scanning head photographs an image and converts it into digital format. Most flatbed scanners come with an automatic mode that allows you to simply place the photo in the scanner and press scan. Everything from then on is automatic, and your old photo will appear on your computer screen as if by magic.

Wand Scanner
A great option for scanning on the move, a wand scanner is a little bit more difficult to master. If there is an old photo you want to scan over at your mother’s house but you can’t possibly bring your entire scanner and computer setup, this may be the option for you. A wand scanner is a handheld device that is operated much like a vacuum cleaner. Place the photo on a flat surface and slowly ‘vacuum’ down its entire length. Wand scanners often produce inferior image quality but are great for capturing images on the go.

Film Scanner
A film scanner is used to create digital copies of film slides or negatives. It is a tiny scanning device that is specifically designed to accommodate only the small sizes of negatives and slides. Film scanners usually produce images of extremely high quality, which is possible because of the incredible resolution of film negatives. Although you might find it hard to fit any actual photo prints into the tiny deck of a film scanner, this machine may be perfect for you if you are one of those treasure hoarders who likes to keep all their old slides and negatives.

Panoramic Stitching
Some old photo prints are too large to even fit inside the bed of a traditional flatbed scanner. When you need to scan an exceptionally large photo but can’t seem to find a scanner large enough to fit it, try panoramic stitching. Panoramic stitching is a software trick that allows you to capture breathtaking views of large landscapes by taking repeated photos with your digital camera. The software then stitches these together automatically to create one big portrait. You can use this same software to stitch together various scans of different parts of one large photo and produce one beautiful, flawless result.

Place the photo on your scanning bed and scan one section. Next, move it a bit and scan a different section, making sure that part of the previously scanned section is overlapping. Repeat this process until all sections of your photo have been scanned, and then load all sections into a photo-editing program with panoramic stitching capability.

Photo-Editing
Once your old photo prints have been converted into flawless digital copies, you may want to touch them up with photo-editing software. You can easily correct brightness and contrast issues with the simplest photo-editing software as well as remove speckles, lens flares, red eye, and other flaws. Before making any major changes to a photo, be sure to save a backup copy in another directory on your computer just in case you make a mistake.

What do you do with your photos when you convert them for use on your computer? Do you make a digital scrapbook? A slideshow copied to DVD to watch on your TV? Do you post them on your family's personal web page? Please leave your comments on this post.

Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of topics. You can read some of her other work on her Facebook page.

The Avengers: East 9th Street a disaster area after explosions

The Avengers movie wreckage on East Ninth Street in Cleveland, Ohio

The Avengers movie wreckage on East Ninth Street in Cleveland, Ohio

There was carnage all over East Ninth Street this week after several explosions rocked downtown Cleveland – rattling office windows and the nerves of the workers within. But fear not, Captain America was on the scene to restore calm.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the past few weeks, you've heard how the filming of the latest Marvel Studios production – The Avengers – has transformed parts of Cleveland into New York City. Unfortunately, it has unintentionally brought some of New York’s traffic gridlock to the area with the closing of East Ninth Street between Prospect and Euclid Avenues. Local authorities expect that portion of the street to be closed for about a month of filming.

More "The Avengers" movie wreckage on East Ninth Street in Cleveland, Ohio

More “The Avengers” movie wreckage on East Ninth Street in Cleveland, Ohio

Nevertheless, many Cleveland area Marvel comic book fans are in “seventh heaven” as they get to see a real live action film being made in their hometown.

The Avengers is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on May 4, 2012 – about 10 days after it’s world premier in France.

Have you seen The Avengers filming in the Cleveland area? Did you snap any photos or make a video? Did you get stuck in traffic because of street closures around town? Please leave your comments on this post.

The PERFECT consumer digital camera revealed at last

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7Have you been longing for the perfect digital camera with all the features you ever wanted at a price that was affordable?

I'm sorry – it does NOT exist. Not even cameras costing thousands of dollars have every feature that professional photographers want.

BUT, there is a camera that comes close. You can even get it used for under $250! BONUS ALERT: It can even record high definition videos – all in the same camera body.

I purchased the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 last December (Merry Christmas to me) as a great camera to take on vacations, throw in the car's glove box or stash in my briefcase. It fits comfortably in my pants pocket so I don't have to hang it from my neck when out-and-about!

So what criteria do I use for selecting the perfect camera?

My top complaint with consumer point-and-shoots is what's called “shutter lag.” That's the amount of time it takes for the camera to actually snap the photo from the moment you push the shutter button. Low-end cameras have a delay or lag as long as one second. That means you'll ALWAYS miss your toddler's first jump into the pool, your little leaguer hitting a home run or any other moment that passes within a second from when you click the shutter.

Other key features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7:

– Solid metal body – should withstand more of a “beating” than a plastic camera body.

– Big 3″ colorful, sharp LCD display makes viewing photos easier in direct sunlight.

– 12 megapixel sensor allows for beautiful enlargements up to 8×10 inches.

– Amazing 12x optical zoom lens (up to 300 mm equivalent if you’re from the “old school” 35mm camera era). This makes taking photos of birds or animals better without having to get as close to them. (SPECIAL NOTE: When shopping for a camera, always ignore the “digital zoom” numbers on a camera. The picture quality of a digital zoom compared to an optical zoom is ALWAYS poor because the camera is just magnifying the photo’s pixels to give the zoomed-in look.

– Smooth and quiet auto focus

– Optical image stabilization – lessens blurriness from camera movement under low-light situations.

– “Intelligent Resolution” feature greatly improves photo quality.

– Automatic exposure and full manual modes

– Built-in flash

– Built-in GPS feature that records where you are when you take a photo. That’s great for those who travel a lot and forget the name of the place they took the photo.

– Very good movie quality in 720p AVCHD which looks as good as video recorded in full 1080 HD.

– Accepts SD/SDHC and new SDXC huge capacity memory cards.

To get the full specifications and current prices for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7, click here.

What camera do you use? What do you like best about it? What features would you like to have in your next camera? Please leave your comments on this post.

How to make your own amazing photo book

Picturesque Olmsted Falls book

Picturesque Olmsted Falls book

Ever since I wrote about publishing my Picturesque Olmsted Falls coffee table book, I've been getting TONS of e-mails asking where I had it printed. Seems like every one wants to have a gorgeous keepsake of their vacations, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries – even the adventures of family pets – including a guinea pig!

After months of online research, checking forums and talking to other photographers; I found a company – blurb.com – that makes high quality books at a very reasonable price! You can download their FREE book design software from their web site right now and begin designing your masterpiece in minutes.

Prices start at just $4.95 for a 5×8 book. They have several intermediate sizes with the largest books at 12×12 and 13×11. These books are far superior in quality to other company's that are comparably priced.

So what are you waiting for? Download your free software and create your amazing book of memories today! BONUS:  Save 20% with code BLURB20 through August 31, 2011.

What would your book be about? A family vacation? A special holiday? Your son or daughter's wedding? Please leave your comments on this post.

Sneak peak: “Picturesque Olmsted Falls” book now at the printer

 

For years, people have asked when I would publish a collection of my artistic renderings of the many notable scenes of Olmsted Falls. The wait is finally over!

Check out the “sneak peak” of the book – above. It has 47 total images. They have all been enhanced in Photoshop to look like actual paintings. It is more obvious in the printed book than what you'll see online.

What a great Christmas or birthday gift for current or former natives of Olmsted Falls.

NOTE: Reveal the images in full-screen by clicking the button to the right of the shopping cart icon!

What do you think of this book? Please leave a comment here and share it on Facebook or Twitter with the t and f  icons underneath and to the left of the book.

Your “One Day” photo could land you a trip to Paris

My "One Day" moment - my daughter

My "One Day" moment - my daughter's birth

From the movie – One Day

After one day together, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) begin a friendship that will last a lifetime.

What’s your One Day? Your college graduation? Your first kiss? Your wedding day? A visit with your mother? Share the memorable moments of your life with a snapshot.

Enter the One Day Kodak Photo Contest for the chance to win a trip to Paris planned by STA Travel. Get details and enter now.

My One Day moment was when my daughter, Jacqui, was born. Like most first-time parents, I was in awe of the responsibility that this beautiful little baby brought. As she cried while the nurses cleaned her up, I trembled at the thought of how my wife and I could raise her to be the best Jacqui she could be. Moments later, the nurse handed this amazing, red-faced, wailing newborn to hold. As I took her into my arms, I asked God for the strength to handle my newest role – that of a father. Almost instantly, a calm came over her… and then over me as I gazed into her tiny, angelic face.

What a wonderful sign my heavenly Father gave to me in the peacefulness of that moment.

What One Day moment would you enter in this contest? Please leave a comment on this post.

Boo! Boo who? Not a riddle – just the cutest darn dog you ever did see!

Boo, perhaps the World’s Cutest Dog, has over 1 million Facbook Fans

Boo, perhaps the World’s Cutest Dog, has over one million Facebook Fans!

Is this the “World’s Cutest Dog” or what?

Boo, an adorable Pomeranian, has really hit the “big time.”  He has several videos on YouTube and was even raved about on Khloe Kardashian's personal blog! Parade Magazine just did a story on him and he has a rapidly expanding following on his own Facebook page with well over 1 million fans.

 

The little guy will soon be featured in his own book by Chronicle Books. It features exclusive new photographs of Boo doing all his favorite things: lounging around, playing with friends, exploring the whole wide world, and making those famous puppy-dog eyes. To know Boo is to love him, and this book is for anyone who loves the cutest dog ever.

What a great gift for someone you love. Oh, heck, just get it for yourself!

Do you have a pet as cute as this? Send me a photo and it just might get posted in a future article! Please leave a comment about this article here.