10 Tips and Tricks for Making Difficult Selections in Photoshop

 Technique  Comments Off on 10 Tips and Tricks for Making Difficult Selections in Photoshop
Mar 142017
 

If you’re just starting out in Photoshop and would like to learn the art of making difficult selections to isolate things in photos, check out this great video tutorial by Tutvid. It’s a 37-minute lesson with 10 tips and tricks on methods that range from beginner to advanced.

“Learn to make virtually ANY selection and cut out anything you would even need in Photoshop,” writes Nate Dodson. “We’ll make simple, straight-line selections with the Poly Lasso tool, we’ll select car parts with the Pen Tool and edit the path, we’ll use Calculations to create extremely intricate and difficult selections VERY quickly, we’ll learn to use and work with Select and Mask as well as Refine Edge, we’ll build a selection based on a single channel, and SO much more!”

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Lightroom Mobile Adds Powerful RAW HDR Capture Mode in Latest Update

 HDR Images, HDR Info  Comments Off on Lightroom Mobile Adds Powerful RAW HDR Capture Mode in Latest Update
Mar 142017
 

Adobe released a major update for Lightroom Mobile on both iOS and Android today. And in addition to a few simple features like “speed review” and a notification widget for iOS, and radial & linear selection tools for Android, Adobe dropped a bombshell: RAW HDR capture… on your smartphone.

Smartphone cameras are improving by leaps and bounds, but they still fall far short of bigger-sensor brethren, particularly where dynamic range is concerned. This update, claims Adobe, will change all that, allowing your measly smartphone to capture a wider range of tones than previously possible:

“The new HDR mode works by automatically scanning the scene to determine the correct exposure range and then capturing three DNG files which are then automatically aligned, merged, deghosted, and tonemapped in the app,” explains Adobe. “You get a 32­bit floating point DNG, with all of the benefits of both an HDR and a raw photo, which is processed by the same algorithms with the same quality as the HDR technology built into Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom.”

The new RAW HDR mode in Lightroom Mobile should make a mockery of your phone’s built-in HDR capabilities, which can typically balance out only the harshest of tones by using two JPEGs. In comparison, Lightroom’s Mobile’s three RAW DNGs are orders of magnitude more useful.

To take advantage, you’ll have to have an iPhone 6s or newer, iPhone SE, or iPad Pro 9.7-inch on the iOS side, or a Samsung S7, S7 Edge, Google Pixel, or Pixel XL for Android. Additional Android devices are being developed for “as quickly as possible.”

Here are some sample photos, all of them captured using this new HDR mode:

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Photos of Canon’s Mirrorless M6 and Removable EVF Leaked

 Gear  Comments Off on Photos of Canon’s Mirrorless M6 and Removable EVF Leaked
Feb 082017
 

Photos of Canon’s soon-to-be-announced EOS M6 mirrorless camera have leaked, and unlike the M5, it doesn’t feature an EVF. Instead, Canon is releasing a new removable EVF that has also leaked for your peeping pleasure.

These leaked photos come to us from Digicame-info, who regularly gets their hands on official product shots just days (or sometimes hours) before an official announcement. This time is no different. The M6 is expected to be announced this month before CP+, which starts February 23rd.

Scroll down to see all of the leaked photos of the black and silver M6 and the EVF-DC2 viewfinder, and keep your eyes peeled for an official announcement, probably in the next few days.

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Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens Awarded Highest Score Ever by DxOMark

 Gear  Comments Off on Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens Awarded Highest Score Ever by DxOMark
Feb 022017
 

Sigma is still on a roll when it comes to its high-end Art lenses, and the latest accolade is impressive: DxOMark just awarded the new Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens the highest score the benchmarking company has ever given.

The lens beat out a trio of highly regarded Zeiss lenses for the top spot, earning an overall score of 50 while the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/2 received a 48.

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Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D810 vs Sony A7R II: Side-by-Side Comparison

 Gear  Comments Off on Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D810 vs Sony A7R II: Side-by-Side Comparison
Jan 012017
 

If you’re in the market for a high-end full-frame camera, chances are good the Canon 5D Mark IV, Sony A7R II, and Nikon D810 are all contenders. Check out this side-by-side comparison if you’re having a hard time deciding which of the three is best for you.

This comparison was put together by JP Morgan over at The Slanted Lens, who enlisted the help of Kenneth Merrill to put all three of these cameras through their paces using native glass. They tested image quality, autofocus accuracy and tracking, dynamic range, and high ISO/low light performance to see where each camera excelled, or if there’s even a noticeable difference.

You should definitely check out the full video to see the comparison tests and judge the results for yourself, but if you’re in a hurry, you can read our summary below.

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Image Quality

Canon really fell short here, but then again it’s also the lowest resolution camera of the bunch at just 30.4MP compared to Nikon’s 36.3MP and Sony’s 42MP. Both the Nikon and Sony came out very sharp, but each exposed the scene a little differently, and the lower res Nikon seems to have generated the highest quality image.

Autofocus

Sony won tracking hands down thanks to the plethora of AF points going all the way to the edge of the sensor and its nifty Face Detection mode. As far as accuracy, Nikon seems to hit the mark more accurately than Canon (the Sony had to sit this test out).

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Why I’m Leaving Apple for Microsoft: Switching as a Photographer

 Gear  Comments Off on Why I’m Leaving Apple for Microsoft: Switching as a Photographer
Dec 062016
 

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iPhones, MacBooks, Mac Pros, heck, even the Apple Watch, it was a good run indeed. However, times have changed, and that beauty that was once your innovation has now been covered up with the makeup that is nice marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am writing this on iMac number three, but like all other Apple products, it will soon be slower and barely usable due to some OS update that, while not mandatory, will show me an “update” banner ruthlessly until I succumb. But as I look back on the good times, I start to see what our relationship really was.

I was young and easily influenced. I didn’t just like Apple products, I looked up to them, for they were what professional photographers used. But now that my career as an advertising photographer is no longer new, I find the “need” that once existed is no longer there. When I get asked by strangers how I can get by as a photographer without having an iPhone, the reality of the relationship is drawn into complete focus.

It all started with a MacBook Air…

I was just out of college, and starting this career that is photography. I didn’t have a lot of money, but knew I wanted an Apple computer since they were made for creatives. Watching the keynote where Steve Jobs pulled the MacBook Air out of an envelope, I was smitten.

Unfortunately for me, I had to wait until I could buy a used one on Craigslist because the price new was too much. Creepy/shady transaction aside, there I stood with my first Apple product. It was perfect in every way, from the battery life, to the size of it, to how it felt to type on it. Over the years, many a blog post would be written on that little laptop and some incredible photo shoots would see their files transferred on its hard drive as I flew home.

However, as time went on, it got slower and slower. Through the latest and greatest OS updates that claimed to make it “faster,” my little MacBook Air would barely run Safari. But not to worry, I had been fortunate to have some success in this career, so I could buy a new MacBook that ran like the old one used to. On top of that, I could get a powerful laptop on which I could do all my editing while on set.

Enter the MacBook Pro…

Immediately upon taking it out of the box I remember thinking, it’s a bit big, but it’s like having a desktop that I can take with me everywhere. This argument fought in my brain, only to be quelled by the words of Jonathan Ive telling us that the fans were not symmetrical in it so it would be quieter. I carried around the MacBook Pro to every shoot for years, even to set with me as recently as last week. However, I have yet to ever edit a file on it, sans a quick resize.

While it may be possible to adjust files from smaller DSLRs, the idea of manipulating a 100 megapixel file on it is humorous at best. In short, my laptop has been what I have always wanted it to be, a file transportation system that I can write blog posts on.

So with that in mind, I began to crave the return of the MacBook Air. It was small, light and easy to chuck files on before getting on a plane. However, what we got was a new laptop that costs more to have less buttons (but at least we can select emojis on the keyboard). Herein lies my concern about Apple and the reason for my change.

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Affinity Photo is Now on Windows: Get the Free Beta

 Technique  Comments Off on Affinity Photo is Now on Windows: Get the Free Beta
Nov 122016
 

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One of the most highly regarded Photoshop alternatives is now available on Windows. Affinity Photo today launched its free public beta for Windows users, allowing anyone to download the popular pro photo editing software.

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Affinity Photo first launched as a free public beta for Mac back in February 2015, amassing over 230,000 downloads before officially launching in July 2015 with a $50 price tag.

The app was selected as Apple’s “App of the Year” that year, and currently has a 5/5 star rating in the iTunes App Store.

The new Windows version of Affinity Photo is a feature-for-feature clone of the Mac version, so you’ll find all the familiar tools.

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PSA: Apple to Update Retina MacBook Pros This Month, Hold Off Buying One

 Apple  Comments Off on PSA: Apple to Update Retina MacBook Pros This Month, Hold Off Buying One
Oct 042016
 

macbookpro_feat

Apple’s powerful, photographer-friendly line of Retina display MacBook Pros are overdue for an update. But if you’re thinking of getting one anyway, don’t! Reliable reports claim Apple will announce an update to these laptops at the end of the month.

According to MacRumors and Bloomberg, both the 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models are scheduled for an official update at the end of October, possibly at a press event on October 24th.

“Apple plans to introduce completely revamped 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros in the fourth quarter of 2016,” writes MacRumors. “The machines could debut as soon as October, and based on upcoming software release plans for macOS 10.12.1, Apple is aiming to finalize the software with features for the new MacBook Pros on October 7, suggesting a late October launch for the new machines.”

Here’s a quick roundup of “What to expect” that MacRumors posted a couple of months ago:

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GoPro Karma: Foldable, Removable Stabilizer, ‘More than a Drone’

 Action cams, Gear  Comments Off on GoPro Karma: Foldable, Removable Stabilizer, ‘More than a Drone’
Sep 212016
 

karma_feat

GoPro finally revealed their Karma Drone, but in CEO Nick Woodman’s words: It’s so much more than a drone. Foldable, easy-to-use, and equipped with a removable stabilizer that you can use hand-held or mounted to something else, this is an incredibly impressive all-around machine.

Announced during this morning’s live stream, Karma is a big deal for GoPro. Not only does it let you take your Hero 5 Black, Hero 4 Black, or Hero 5 Session to the skies, the attached stabilization system can be removed and inserted into the included “Karma Grip” that lets you use it handheld or mount it to your helmet, bike, car, or self.

Combine that with GoPro’s built in digital stabilization and the stabilizer allows users to create buttery smooth footage never before possible with any action cam.

The included "Karma Grip" lets you take the stabilizer off your drone and into the world.

When it's folded, the Karma drone fits snugly into the included backpack case, alongside the Karma Grip and the Karma Remote.

When it’s folded, the Karma drone fits snugly into the included backpack case, alongside the Karma Grip and the Karma Remote.

Details like controller range, flight time, and other details that you would expect GoPro to mention right away were left out of the announcement.

Woodman, and by extension GoPro, instead focused on the experience of the thing. Like how easy it is to fly using the “game-style flight and camera control, how portable it is all folded up and packed in the Karma Case, and how cool it is that the stabilizer is removable.

Not to mention the The GoPro Passenger App, that lets a friend control your camera and see what you’re capturing using an iPad or iPhone while you pilot the drone itself.

passengerapp

If you dig into the landing page, you’ll find some details though. For instance, you’ll find out that that the Karma drone features built-in “No-Fly Zones” to keep you out of trouble, and a simple land button that brings the Karma drone back to you or the launch location, no matter where you’ve flown it to.

Battery wise, Karma will run for 20 minutes on a 1-hour charge, and GoPro has gone out of its way to make the drone easy to repair. Not just the “efficient” and “quiet” propellers that allegedly generate more lift with less noise, but the arms themselves can be replaced, and replacement arms come with all the tools you’ll need to do it yourself.

Here are some video intros to the Karma Drone, Karma Grip, and Karma Controller, along with product shots of the drone from all angles:

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The GoPro Hero5 Black: Waterproof, Stabilized, Voice Commands & More

 Action cams, Gear  Comments Off on The GoPro Hero5 Black: Waterproof, Stabilized, Voice Commands & More
Sep 212016
 

hero5black_feat

GoPro is calling the new Hero 5 Black “Simply the best GoPro, ever.” They’re not wrong. Waterproof to 33ft out of the box and featuring 4K video, stabilization, voice commands, and more, the Hero 5 Black is a lot of action camera for $400.

This morning’s GoPro announcement was a product release bonanza. Not only did we get to see the Karma ‘so much more than a’ Drone, CEO Nick Woodman also debuted the new flagship GoPro Hero5 Black.

The big news on the surface is that the Hero5 Black can survive below the surface… of the water that is. Out of the box and without a casing of any kind, it’s waterproof to 10 meters (~33ft). This thanks to a new one-button design that takes away a lot of seams and looks pretty sleek doing it.

hero5black_front

hero5black_back

The second most ‘exciting’ bit of news about the Hero5 Black is the voice controls, which let you “stay in the moment” while capturing said moment. Available in 7 languages at launch, you can tell your Hero5 Black to start recording, take a photo, take a burst, and more.

Over and over during this morning’s release Woodman harped on the fact that GoPro’s goal was to make a camera that “disappears.” A camera that is so easy and intuitive to use that you forget you’re using a camera—an extension of your experience instead of something that interrupts it. Voice controls are a big piece of this.

Add to that the automatic upload to the cloud that comes with a GoPro Plus subscription—every time you plug in your GoPro to charge, it uploads automatically—and Woodman is getting closer to his “invisible” camera dream.

Here’s a quick into and an overview of “what’s new” with the Hero5:

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500px ‘RAW’ Lets You Shoot, Edit, and License RAW Photos, All on Your Phone

 Technique  Comments Off on 500px ‘RAW’ Lets You Shoot, Edit, and License RAW Photos, All on Your Phone
Sep 162016
 

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500px’s latest app “RAW” is more than the name implies. Not only does it let you shoot and edit RAW photos on your iPhone, it also helps you license those photos to clients who submit specific briefs to the 8 million photographer 500px community.

Since the release of iOS 10, several camera apps have already jumped on the RAW bandwagon by letting you shoot, edit, and share RAW files straight from your iPhone or iPad. But 500px RAW goes a step further by pairing that capability with on-demand photography assignments from companies looking to license photos.

On the photo editing side, 500px RAW offers some robust RAW editing tools. Beyond the basic edits like contrast and exposure, the app actually lets you edit hue, saturation, and luminance by color.

Once you’ve dialed in a look you like, you can save a custom filter. And if all that seems like too much work, 500px teamed up with some of their most popular users to create some ready-to-use presets for you.

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iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Announced: Dual Cameras for Zoom and Bokeh

 Apple  Comments Off on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Announced: Dual Cameras for Zoom and Bokeh
Sep 092016
 

iphone7viewsfeat

Apple just announced the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, a smartphone it calls “the world’s most advanced smartphone.”

The phones feature a new aluminum body that comes in shiny black, matte black, gold, silver, and rose gold.

Both phones are now officially water and dust resistant, boasting an IP67 protection standard that means your iPhone will be safe from splashes.

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 has a new camera system that features optical image stabilization system that lets you shoot longer exposures while reducing shake, larger f/1.8 aperture that lets in 50% more light, a 6-element lens that delivers sharp images, a new 12-megapixel sensor that’s 60% faster and 30% more energy efficient.

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The flash is a Quad-LED system that True Tone flash, 50% more light, and Flicker sensor that compensates for the flickering in artificial light. Here are a couple of sample photos shot using the new flash:

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The image signal processor at the core of the phone has 2x the throughput compared to previous iPhones. It uses machine learning to detect objects and people. The system then sets exposure, focus, color, white balance, tone mapping, noise reduction, and multiple image compositing. Everything is done in 25 milliseconds.

Here are sample photographs shot using the iPhone 7:

Apple’s Bokeh-filled iPhone 7 Event Invite Hints at Camera Upgrades

 Apple  Comments Off on Apple’s Bokeh-filled iPhone 7 Event Invite Hints at Camera Upgrades
Aug 312016
 

applebokehinvite

Apple sent out invites to journalist this week for an event in San Francisco on September 7th — presumably to announce the iPhone 7. The invite itself is covered with colorful bokeh, perhaps hinting at major camera upgrades coming to the phone.

Smartphone cameras generally aren’t known for offering an extremely shallow depth of field and smooth bokeh (the quality of the out-of-focus points of light). One upgrade that might help the iPhone 7 achieve these things is the addition of a second camera module with another lens and sensor.

iphonerearhead

A dual camera has long been rumored to be a major feature of the iPhone 7 Plus, and if it is announced, Apple would be following in the footsteps of Chinese phonemaker Huawei and its new P9 phone with dual Leica cameras.

In addition to multiple leaked photos showing the purported dual camera system, some people are pointing to the invite image itself as proof that the twin cameras are coming.

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PortraitPro Body Packs Drastic Body Retouching Into Simple Sliders

 Technique  Comments Off on PortraitPro Body Packs Drastic Body Retouching Into Simple Sliders
Aug 312016
 

bodyprofeat

Doing extreme retouching to the human body in photos has gotten a great deal of bad press as of late, but that’s not keeping a London-based software company Anthropics Technology from trying to innovate in that space. It has launched a new program called PortraitPro Body, which it claims is “the industry’s first dedicated full body retouching software.”

While high-end retouching portraits is generally done with the multitude of tools found in programs such as Photoshop, PortraitPro Body seeks to simplify the retouching process by putting major touch-ups behind simple sliders.

The 6 main panels in the program are Mark Up, Shape Sliders, Shape Tools, Skin, Face, and Picture.

The sliders in these panels allow you to easily slim someone down, bulk someone up, change a person’s height, adjust poses and posture, modify facial expressions, remove various blemishes from their skin, and more.

Here are some before-and-after examples published by Anthropics:

Screenshot (1908)

Screenshot (1909)

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104 Photo Editing Tools You Should Know About

 HDR Software, Technique  Comments Off on 104 Photo Editing Tools You Should Know About
Aug 312016
 

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Hello, photographers. For the last two months, I’ve been doing market research for my project Photolemur and looking for different tools in the area of photo enhancement and photo editing. I spent a lot of time searching, and came up with a large organized list of 104 photo editing tools and apps that you should know about.

I believe all these services might be useful for some photographers, so I’ll share them here with you. And just to make it easier to find something specific, the list is numbered. Enjoy!

Table of contents

  • Photo enhancers (1-3)
  • Online editors (4-21)
  • Free desktop editors (22-26)
  • Paid desktop editors (27-40)
  • HDR photo editors (41-53)
  • Cross-platform image editors (54-57)
  • Photo filters (58-66)
  • Photo editing mobile apps (67-85)
  • RAW processors (86-96)
  • Photo viewers and managers (97-99)
  • Other (100-104)

Photo enhancers

1. Photolemur – The world’s first fully automated photo enhancement solution. It is powered by a special AI algorithm that fixes imperfections on images without human involvement (beta).

2. Softcolorsoftware – Automatic photo editor for batch photo enhancing, editing and color management.

3. Perfectly Clear – Photo editor with a set of automatic correction presets for Windows&Mac ($149)


Online editors

4. Pixlr – High-end photo editing and quick filtering – in your browser (free)

5. Fotor – Overall photo enhancement in an easy-to-use package (free)

6. Sumopaint – The most versatile photo editor and painting application that works in a browser (free)

7. Irfanview – An image-viewer with added batch editing and conversion. rename a huge number of files in seconds, as well as resize them. Freeware (for non-commercial use)

8. Lunapic – Just a simple free online editor

9. Photos – Photo viewing and editing app for OS X and comes free with the Yosemite operating system (free)

11. Pics.io – Very simple online photo editor (free)

12. Ribbet – Ribbet lets you edit all your photos online, and love every second of it (free)

13. PicMonkey – One of the most popular free online picture editors

14. Befunky – Online photo editor and collage maker (free)

15. pho.to – Simple online photo editor with pre-set photo effects for an instant photo fix (free)

16. pizap – Online photo editor and collage maker ($29.99/year)

17. Fotostars – Edit your photos using stylish photo effects (free)

18. Avatan – Free online photo editor & collage maker

19. FotoFlexer – Photo editor and advanced photo effects for free

20. Picture2life is an Ajax based photo editor. It’s focused on grabbing and editing images that are already online. The tool selection is average, and the user interface is poor.

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Wildlife Photography, The Pokemon GO of the Real World

 Technique  Comments Off on Wildlife Photography, The Pokemon GO of the Real World
Aug 212016
 

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It finally happened: after countless months of wandering around, going to places where people say they’ve spawned, after using lures, and being patient, I managed to add a… Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) to my collection!

Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)

Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)

Now, I don’t really play Pokemon GO (as the above was making reference to) though I did install the app to see what the fuss was about, and can see why it appeals to people. Like some aspects of wildlife or bird photography, you’re out trying to collect them all, there’s friendly competition in trying to find a ‘better’ one than your peers, and it’s an excuse to get out.

Like most things, it also happens to be something you can get better at as experience works out the solutions to the many little hurdles that present themselves to you while you are learning the art, and that sense of progress can get addictive.

An Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) isn’t particularly rare in Australia — their beautiful long calls followed by a sharp, distinct ‘whip’ are heard on many a forest walk, but they aren’t seen as often as they are heard. On this occasion while out on a walk, I heard one, and used the Morcombe’s Birds of Australia app (available for Android and Apple) on my phone to play one a call in response. Around mating season, this often entices some birds out to investigate.

It never before worked on a Whipbird for me, but this time I saw a particularly inquisitive Whipbird scuttling through the undergrowth near me, hopping on branches in the surrounding scrub, practically doing circles around me and very curiously trying to investigate where this potential mate (unfortunately for him this time, just my Sony Xperia Z5) might be, and I managed a snap before driving the little guy too crazy with expectation.

Prior to this, my most memorable find was a Wompoo Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus magnificus), and as its Latin name alludes to, it is quite magnificent, bearing a grey head, a red beak, green body, purple throat and yellow wing accents.

Wompoo Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus magnificus)
Wompoo Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus magnificus)
It also sounds like a person sitting up in a tree saying ‘wom-pooooo’ (not kidding). Given the aforementioned, I just had to make it a personal mission one Christmas break to try to find one. I worked out it took 1000kms of driving over three separate trips before I managed to. On each of the outings on location, I walked around for hours on end fruitlessly — and funny enough, when I finally found it after concluding the third trip, exhausted, there it was in a tree just by the parking lot, wompooing away somewhat mockingly while obliging me a few snaps.

For what it’s worth, I don’t consider myself a wildlife photographer. I don’t think I have photographs of raptors nearly as good as someone I know who goes on even longer trips than me, builds scaffolded hides and plants himself there for who-knows-how-long.

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GoPro Hero 5 Photos and User Manual Leaked, Voice Commands Incoming

 Action cams, Gear  Comments Off on GoPro Hero 5 Photos and User Manual Leaked, Voice Commands Incoming
Aug 212016
 

leakedgopro_feat

Some photos of and a user manual for the upcoming GoPro Hero 5 have allegedly leaked online, showing a camera that looks like a hybrid between the Hero 4 and Hero Session cameras, will focus heavily on GoPro’s upcoming cloud service ‘GoPro Plus,’ and may feature voice commands.

The images first appeared on (and were subsequently pulled from) the Japanese blog Nokishita, but before they could be removed the folks at Mirrorless Rumors snagged some screenshots. That’s how we come to share these real life photos and an alleged schematic for the unreleased action cam.

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The photos show more of what we reported in the past.

The camera will probably be waterproof out of the box (although an external casing will, we assume, still be required to take the camera to serious depths) given the rounded edges and rubberized look, it will feature a touch screen display, and otherwise looks very similar to the aging Hero 4.

Here’s another look at the leaked video from a couple of weeks ago, showing GoPro’s touchscreen interface at work:

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Photo Challenge: Using a 15-Year-Old DSLR for a Modern-Day Portrait Shoot

 Gear, Technique  Comments Off on Photo Challenge: Using a 15-Year-Old DSLR for a Modern-Day Portrait Shoot
Aug 212016
 

It’s easy to forgot how easy we have it shooting digital in 2016, because when digital cameras first started picking up steam they were not easy to use. How difficult were they? Watch as Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo takes the 15-year-old Nikon D1X out for a modern day on-location portrait shoot.


Warning: The video above contains some strong language, user discretion advised.


This particular video, part of Fro’s “5 Min Portrait” series, is different than most of the challenges like it we’ve seen because he takes you along for the entire (sometimes painful) process. From unboxing, to finding era-appropriate lenses, to struggling for focus, to the finished prints on his studio floor.

The full video is over an hour long. It’s not short, but it’s a great weekend watch if you want to (1) be reminded of how good you have it with your fancy new D5 or whatever you’re shooting, and/or (2) refocus on some of the photography basics that you maybe started letting your new camera take care of automatically.

Fro certainly had to change his mindset and adjust to shooting “vintage,” but some of the shots he captured—candids as well as more traditional on-location portraits—turned out really well. Here are a few of our favorites:

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10 Tips for Self Publishing a Photo Book Through Kickstarter

 Marketing  Comments Off on 10 Tips for Self Publishing a Photo Book Through Kickstarter
Aug 092016
 

animalsoul_feat

In January 2016 I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to get my first book, Animal Soul, printed. Here I will share ten things I learned that could perhaps be valuable for those wanting to follow this path.

1. Fully Funded is Not the Same as Successful

Success in Kickstarter is not measured by if you are fully funded, for that is only part of the process. In order to host a truly successful campaign, you need to fulfill each of the following.

  1. Your campaign is fully funded
  2. You actually manage to produce the product with the allocated budget.
  3. The product is shipped within your estimated timeframe with minimal delays.
  4. The product quality meets or exceeds expectations.

When your project is fully funded, you have a responsibility to your backers to meet all the claims you made throughout your campaign. If this is your first time publishing a book, I would recommend allotting yourself an extra 2–3 months ahead of your bona fide timeline estimate. There will ALWAYS be unexpected setbacks. As Victor Hugo once wrote, and I paraphrase, “foresee the unforeseen”.

2. Transparency is Everything

Kickstarter is not a shop. Backers know this. They are not buying readymade products. The Kickstarter community exists to support individuals who are going against the grain. Most people hosting a Kickstarter campaign are new to whatever it is they are trying, so trouble will always be over the horizon. Be as clear as you can with your audience about the hurdles you foresee and how you plan to overcome them.

If problems that you hadn’t even considered show up, update your backers and explain your plan to approach the problem. I was very hands-on with Animal Soul, and as a result most of the reviews of the campaign explained how the backers felt as though they were a totally up-to-date and informed part of the project, as opposed to simply being the consumer.

The more honest and transparent you are about the project, the better the project is likely to fare. If you plan to host subsequent crowdfunding campaigns in the future your reviews will be scrutinized. Showing that you made good on your promises goes a long way.

3. Launch in January or February

Host it early in the year. I found some research that concludes that Kickstarter hosts the fewest amount of projects right after the winter holidays. There may be less traffic on the site but there is far less competition. Trust me, this can make all the difference.

4. The Inside Track to Free Press on Major Websites

Getting the buzz going about your crowdfunding campaign is the next step to reaching your funding goal.

When pitching a book project to traditional publishers and literary agents, you are often required to submit a proposal. In the proposal there should be a competitor analysis. Which books that have already been published will you be sharing a market with? Which artists have been producing similar photos to the ones you are doing?

Once you have established who your competition is, find out who wrote about it. For example, there were about 5 books and another 10 artists whom Animal Soul would share a slice of the market with. I had a very simple search strategy, which went as follows:

“(Name of website / publication) + (description of competition) + (keywords like: photographer, coffee table book, etc.)”

Or if I plug in the variables for an example:

“The Guardian Seth Casteel dogs underwater” or “MyModernMet dog portraits” and so on.

The search results will then yield articles published by a particular website about your competition. Go through these pages and find out who wrote the articles. Most of the time there is a credited author to each article.

Next step is to research some company email formats. Try to find out which format the site of your choice uses. This information is generally not public, so I am not able to share my findings for all the major sites, however the following formats are common:

  • firstname.lastname
  • firstinitiallastname
  • firstnamefirstinitiallastname

With the right format in mind, plug in the name of the person who wrote that article and ask if they would be interested in running a story about your work. After all, journalists and reporters make a living off of generating content, so you’re not doing anybody a disservice if you legitimately feel your material is worth writing about.

I got about a 65% response rate from these, which yielded ultimately about a 30% chance in a published article on a big website, per email I sent. Check out where I’ve been published here, to see that this actually works.

Copies of Animal Soul being prepared for shipping in Belgium.
Copies of Animal Soul being prepared for shipping in Belgium.

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How the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Was Designed for ‘Decisive Usability’

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on How the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Was Designed for ‘Decisive Usability’
Aug 032016
 

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Digital cameras are notoriously difficult to design and get right. Where do you start? Who is the customer? What features do you include on the camera? There are uncountable ways to approach a camera development and design program.

For example, you can create a spreadsheet listing current and near-future ‘must-have’ specifications and cross them out one-by-one to please the techno-consumer. Or you can specialize and excel in specific areas—a more difficult proposition altogether. For the X-Pro2, Fujifilm chose the latter simply because of their heritage of crafting cameras for particular needs.

If you take a look at Fujifilm’s history of cameras, you get a sense of a company that sees photography not only as a technological endeavor but also an artistic one. For example, I have in the past used two remarkable Fujifilm cameras — the GX680 III and the GA645. The GX680 III is the largest SLR ever made. It’s a very specialized camera catering to product, interior and architectural photography. The superb Fujinon EBC lenses were attached to a front standard that in turn connected to the camera body with bellows. This enabled not only close-up shots with any lens but also enabled the front standard to have view camera movements — rise/fall, tilt, shift and swing. With this combination, you could shoot a small product that was completely in focus, as well as photograph interior and exterior architecture while correcting for converging parallels. It shot a rare 6 x 8 cm image on medium format film, which is close to magazine page proportions in order to minimize cropping.

Photo of the Fuji GX680III by Viaissimo. CC BY-SA 3.0.

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