One of my ongoing research projects is on the Mongol invasions. Doing some background research, I realized there's an interesting asymmetry between male and female rulers, in terms of available imperial sexual strategies.
Say that the Mongol hordes have just finished annexing another city along their ever expanding frontier. Let's call it Elbonia. In this case the local elite had the good sense to surrender peacefully, and accept the Mongols as their rightful overlords. Everybody knew that if they put up a fight, the Mongols would typically exterminate a significant proportion of the local population, and enslave the rest.
What did the Mongols want from Elbonia? Well first of all, obviously they didn't want the inhabitants to ever attack their other dominions, regardless of any preexisting local feuds which may have existed. Secondly, they wanted them to send them money or tradable goods regularly. And thirdly, they wanted them to furnish soldiers for use in their next cam…
Here's a fun technique. I think it's new, but if somebody else has already done this or something similar, please feel free to correct me. The technique allows you to
simulate very directional lighting even on days with so-so lighting, but
it does take a little bit of planning.
Let's say you're out and about shooting photos, and there's a light overcast/mixed cloudy sky. If you wait until a break in the clouds hits your subject, you can take photos like this one:
Decent, but nothing too spectacular. How could you make the lighting more dramatic? One option would be to mess around with levels or curves, but that's going lead to clipping of highlights and/or shadows, pretty soon. Like so:
So here's my idea. First you wait until the clouds move a bit and your subject is in shade. Then you take a SUPER boring picture like this one from exactly the same camera position. This photo has completely diffuse lighting and next to know threedimentionality:
I just upgraded from a D90 to a D750, and I decided to buy a superzoom to use when I don't want to carry around the full bag of primes. It was a tossup between the 24-120 and the 28-300, but in the end I picked the latter since I already had a 24mm f/2.8D which had been collecting dust during my decade of using DX-sized sensors. In fact I might trade the 24mm with a 20mm if the opportunity comes along.
Anyway, there's a lot of controversy surrounding this lens, so I thought I would make some tests to decide whether to keep the lens or not, and since I have them, I figured I'd post them online.
So here they are. The first one are 200x200pixel crops (roughly) from the center of a resolution target. I took every marked focal length, and every full stop of aperture. I put a green dot next to the combinations that I considered satisfactory. For comparison, the "Optimal" square was obtained by taking a photo much larger version of the same pattern and scaling it down …