Gear, TechniqueComments Off on Photo Challenge: Using a 15-Year-Old DSLR for a Modern-Day Portrait Shoot
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:
MarketingComments Off on 10 Tips for Self Publishing a Photo Book Through Kickstarter
In January 2016 I launched a successful Kickstarter campaignto 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.
Your campaign is fully funded
You actually manage to produce the product with the allocated budget.
The product is shipped within your estimated timeframe with minimal delays.
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 researchthat 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:
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.
Cinematography, GearComments Off on How the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Was Designed for ‘Decisive Usability’
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.
Gear, TechniqueComments Off on Portraits of 19th-Century Characters with 21st-Century Gadgets
For his personal project “Gold Rush,” Los Angeles-based photographer Qingjian Meng combines two different eras. The subjects look like they’re from the 19th century, except each of the 8 people is using some piece of technology from the 21st century.
“By creating these 19th Century characters posing with 21st Century technology, the portraits create a dialogue between generations,” Meng says. “It shows the conflict between the two different eras and this reveals how cyclical economic and innovative tides can be within a society.”
Technologies seen in the photos include headphones, a tablet, video games, a Bluetooth headset, an e-cigarette, and more. Here are the other portraits containing anachronisms:
Gear, TechniqueComments Off on Is a Full Frame Camera Really Worth It? D610 vs D7100 Real World Test
Since I got my Nikon D7000 camera 6 years ago I’ve used it almost everyday. That is a lot of shutter clicks, 148,558 to be exact. It looks like I will be in the market for a new camera soon as the D7000 is only factory tested to 150,000 clicks. My dilemma is should I go full frame, or stick with my cropped frame?
I keep asking myself, is a full frame camera really worth it? I took a Nikon full frame D610 and a Nikon cropped frame D7100 on a test drive around Paris to see the real world differences.
What exactly is a “full frame” camera?
Film was the unchallenged king for a century and the most popular format was 35mm film. It was sometimes referred to as “small format” to differentiate it from “medium format” or “large format” cameras, but for most of us it was the standard film we used. Although called 35mm, it actually measured 36x24mm.
When they started making digital cameras they used a smaller sensor than their film counterparts, roughly 24x16mm, but the bodies still took advantage of the same 35mm lens. The smaller sensor size meant there was a part of the image that never made it to the smaller sensor. About a decade ago, developers in Japan decided to increase the size of their sensors to the equivalent of 35mm film and as a very cleaver marketing ploy, called them “full frame” renaming their current cameras as merely “cropped frame.”
Makes you feel like you’re missing out right? Lets take a look at some of the key differences.
TechniqueComments Off on The Idea of Gravity, or: How Wedding Photography Referrals Work
If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking to improve and expand your referral base. Once you’ve got a good number of weddings under your belt your base will be made up of (mostly) previous couples.
Every wedding you shoot is another set of potential clients down the road. Members of the wedding party, their family members, friends and guests of the couple… these are the people who will hopefully come to you in the future when they themselves are looking for a wedding photographer.
So how do you get it all going? For a lot of photographers, getting work in the beginning is like the chicken or the egg. You need weddings to get weddings. So where’s the break in the loop?
It’s important to understand the order of the referral tree. This is where “gravity” comes into play. It’s also where photographers who are just starting out are at a bit of a disadvantage.
While it can certainly vary couple-to-couple, the booking order usually goes something like this:
2. Venue / Date
4. DJ / Band
5. Catering (if not provided by the venue)
8. Dress shop
9. Justice of Peace (if necessary)
10. Videographer (I don’t agree with the tendency to book video late, but it seems to be the trend)
11. Misc vendors (drapery, lighting, candy buffets, photo booth, cocktail hour trios, etc)
Apple, TechniqueComments Off on Polaroid Swing: An App for Snapping and Sharing Moving Photos
The Polaroid brand has launched a new free mobile app called Polaroid Swing. It’s “an innovative moving photo app” that opens the door to a “new visual medium for the mobile era.”
The app was created by a partnership between the Polaroid brand and a tech startup chaired by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
Using the app, you can capture moving photos, or one-second moments that come to life when you touch the static photo or swing your phone around. The concept is similar to the Live Photos feature built into Apple’s latest iPhones.
GearComments Off on This Hyperlapse Through Saigon Was Shot Handheld with the DJI Osmo
Time-lapse photographer Rufus Blackwellspent the last 2 months taking the DJI Osmo handheld stabilized camera around Saigon, Vietnam. The 3-minute video above is what resulted.
“Because the camera is so steady, you can create hyperlapse sequences from shooting video, a completely new way of creating a moving timelapse,” Blackwell tells PetaPixel. “This allows you so much latitude in post, you can warp time. This was a highly experimental shoot, I was amazed by the results.”
This is a big week for new top-tier gear at DxOMark. First, they crowned the Canon 1D X Mark II the best Canon sensor they’ve ever tested, and now the affordable Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary has been named DxO’s top-ranking Sony E-Mount prime.
The full review dropped earlier today, and if you’re looking for a super-sharp lens for your Sony E-Mount APS-C camera, you need look no further. According to DxOMark, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DN is “an excellent standard prime option for Sony E-mount cameras and ranks at the top for all lenses we’ve tested on the A6000.”
GearComments Off on OOWA Smartphone Lenses Promise Top Quality Thanks to Special Design
There’s no shortage of smartphone lenses out there to choose from, but these two from DynaOptics promise to be both special, and unique. Designed with their patented ‘free-form’ technology, the OOWA smartphone lenses claim they are “the highest-quality lens attachments ever created for mobile photography.”
That’s quite the claim, especially with competition from high-end glass lenses like the Moment offerings, but DynaOptics has a technological ace up their sleeve: “patented free-form technology” they say results in “unprecedented” edge-to-edge sharpness, minimal distortion, no chromatic aberration, and no vignetting.
TechniqueComments Off on Photoshop Trick: How to Stitch Together Difficult Panoramas
If you’ve ever tried to stitch a panorama in Photoshop, you know that the program is not always up to the task. In this “Photoshop Secrets” tutorial, photographer Jimmy McIntyre will show you two tricks that will help Photoshop stitch even the most difficult tiles together into a beautiful pano.
The first 4:40 of the video is a small bit of self-promotion followed by tips on how to shoot panoramas to make stitching them in Photoshop easier: he talks about overlap between tiles, shooting a lot of extra info around the edges, and more. These are important tips if you’ve never shot panoramas, but if you want to skip straight to the tips on stitching together difficult panoramas, jump straight to 4:40.
NewsComments Off on Parachut is the Netflix of Camera Gear: Unlimited Rentals for $149/Month
Parachut is a new startup that wants to do for camera gear what Netflix did for movies. It gives photographers unlimited gear for $149 per month.
While camera gear rental is currently dominated by a few big players (e.g. LensRentals, BorrowLenses) and some upstart peer-to-peer services (e.g. CameraLends, ShareGrid), Parachut is trying to take the concept in a different direction — the subscription model.
After paying the monthly fee of $149/month ($99 for the first month), you’ll provide Parachut with a list of what you’d like in the area of cameras, lenses, drones, accessories, and more.
Once your needs and the available inventory is evaluated, Parachut will send you gear to use for your project — which may or may not be the exact items you’re requesting. You can keep the gear for as long as you’d like, and when you’re done with it you can send it back with pre-paid labels. Shipping is free both ways.
Apple, NewsComments Off on iPhone 7 Plus to Boast Dual Rear Cameras: Report
One of the world’s most popular cameras may be about to get a huge leap in tech and quality: a new report says that Apple is planning to introduce dual rear cameras in its upcoming iPhone 7 Plus.
AppleInsider reports that this news comes from KGI Securities’s Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the world’s top Apple analysts. Kuo says the technology is from Apple’s acquisition of LinX in April 2015. LinX was an Israeli startup that was developing multi-camera modules that promised to give phones DSLR-esque performance.
NewsComments Off on Nikon Awards Prize to Badly ‘Shopped Photo, Hilarity Ensues
Nikon Singapore posted an announcementon its Facebook page yesterday, congratulating a photographer named Chay Yu Wei for capturing a perfect shot of an airplane framed by a ladder in Chinatown.
Photographers quickly pointed out that the photo is clearly the result of editing, and sarcastic comments soon flooded the post.
“Yu Wei chanced upon a set of ladders while on a photowalk with his friends in Chinatown, and thought the view above would make an interesting perspective,” Nikon wrote. “Little did he expect to catch an airplane in mid-air. We’ll try looking up too, Yu Wei.”
For the photo, reportedly shot with a Nikon D90 at f/2.8 and 1/1600s, Chay was gifted with a Nikon-branded trolley bag.
News, TechniqueComments Off on These Photos Show How Steinway Makes Its Famous Grand Pianos
Founded in Manhattan in 1853, Steinway & Sons is widely considered to be one of the greatest piano makers in the world. Its grand pianos grace the world’s grandest stages and are played by the best pianists.
Architectural photographerChris Payne visited the company’s factory at One Steinway Place in Astoria, New York, and created beautiful photos that document how raw materials are turned into some of the world’s finest musical instruments. His project is titled “Making Steinway: An American Workplace.”
Payne first toured the Steinway factory in 2002 while working as an architect. After his father and grandmother (both pianists) passed away, he decided to return to the factory to shoot a series about the instrument that had been so central to his family.
“The piano is something we all know and love as a whole; its deceptively simple, iconic form is instantly recognizable,” Payne writes. “But my photographs look in a different direction: a deconstruction of the piano’s unseen constituent parts and a glimpse into the skilled labor required to make them.”
NewsComments Off on Adobe Portfolio Helps Photographers Build Portfolio Websites in Minutes
If you’re looking to build an online portfolio website to showcase your best photos,Adobe Portfolio is a new option for doing so. Launched today, it’s a tool that helps creatives build simple yet beautiful portfolio sites.
The online editor is designed to help you get your own website designed, up, and running in just minutes.
You start out by picking a layout as a starting point (you can change your layout later on if you’d like). Next, you personalize the layout with your own style and design choices.
Cinematography, GearComments Off on Shooting 360° Video in 48K Using 12 Sony Xperia Z5 Smartphones
Sony has created what it believes is the world’s first 48K 360-degree video. The company created a special 3D-printed camera rig that uses 12Xperia Z5 smartphonesarranged in a circle. By shooting 4K with each phone and then stitching together the resulting footage, Sony was able to create 48K video that you can explore interactively.
The first video shot with the rig was filmed at the Rise Ski & Snowboard Festival in Les Deux Alpes, France. Here’s the video (unfortunately, YouTube’s playback resolution maxes out at 4K):
Kansas-based hair colorist Ursula Goff recently shared these two selfies side-by-side to show the same things can be presented in drastically different ways with a carefully planned photo.
“So I didn’t edit either one of these photos, but they were taken just a few days apart,” Goff writes. “I think it’s important to note that lighting, angles, facial expression, and make-up make a huge difference in photography and presentation (especially in my case!).”
“Social media can make it easy to feel like everyone else is awesome and perfect all the time, but that’s really never true,” she continues. “We should keep in mind that behind every pretty face or perfect lifestyle is a regular person, and that there’s really no point in comparing amongst ourselves because this is all cultivated.”
The PD-100 Black Hornet 2 is a high-tech camera drone that’s currently being tested by the US military. Unlike consumer drones used by photographers, such as the DJI Phantom or Inspire, the PD-100 is designed to be extremely stealthy: it fits in the palm of your hand, and weighs just 18 grams — about the same as 3 to 4 sheets of ordinary printer paper.
Oh, and they cost $40,000 each.
Developed by the Norwegian companyProx Dynamics, the tiny drone looks like a small buzzing insect while it’s in use. It can fly for up to 25 minutes with a range of 2 miles, and it packs both ordinary and thermal cameras for still photos and live video.
“The Black Hornet’s small size and electric motors makes it virtually inaudible and invisible beyond short distances,” Prox Dynamics says.