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CareerCast has published its 2018 Jobs Rated Report, which provides a 'general snapshot' of 220 careers based on certain 'key criteria,' including stress levels, work environment, growth outlook, and income. The report lists the best and worst careers of 2018 based on these factors; included in the 'worst' category is photography.

The career of 'photographer' is listed as #25 among CareerCast's ranking of 2018's worst careers, falling behind other roles like 'enlisted military personnel,' 'newspaper reporter,' and 'disc jockey.' Factors that negatively influence career ranking include high stress levels, danger, low pay, and poor outlook.

As far as photography goes, CareerCast noted an annual median wage of $34,000 for photographers working in the US last year, which is slightly lower than the nation's median wage across all jobs of $37,690. As well, the company projects photography as a career will experience negative growth of -5.6% from 2016 to 2026.

An increase in smartphones, which make the field more accessible to non-professionals, as well as an uptick in the corporate use of freelancers are cited as issues impacting the career's projected negative growth over the next decade. As freelancers are increasingly used, the photography industry has seen an elimination of salaried photographer positions.

In contrast, 'mathematician,' 'genetic counsellor' and 'university professor' are listed among the report's best careers.

Posted: April 22, 2019, 7:53 pm

We have already seen reports on the components used in the Huawei P30 Pro's innovative multi-camera setup. Thanks to a new video-teardown by Youtuber JerryRigEverything we are now getting a very detailed look at the camera and especially the periscope-style 5x tele lens and its internal components.

Looking at the video it is quite impressive how Huawei has managed to squeeze this much technology into the P30 Pro's thin smartphone body, particularly considering that the huge 4200 mAh is taking up a large proportion of the available space.

The only way to achieve a 5x optical zoom factor was to install the tele-module sideways inside the phone, using a 90-degree mirror to divert incoming light into the lens and onto the sensor. The Huawei is the first phone to use this technology but most certainly not the last. Unfortunately the tele-lens is being sacrificed in the process of recording the video but given the close looks we are getting at the internals it's all worth it.

Fast forward to 5:36 in the video if you want to jump directly to the section about the camera module.

Posted: April 22, 2019, 5:59 pm

Cooperative of Photography (COOPH) has published a video on its YouTube channel that offers viewers five macro photography ideas. The video aims to demonstrate ways to capture striking images without investing in expensive equipment; one idea, for example, includes instructions on transforming an empty chips canister into a flash diffuser.

The video focuses on ordinary items and elements easily found in the home or office. COOPH demonstrates ways to capture unique textures using things like soap bubbles and sponges, as well as color patterns using prisms and macro still life using ordinary tiny objects like a pen spring. Below is a timestamped list of the specific ideas if you want to skip around.

0:06 - DIY Macro Diffuser
1:23 - Textures
1:52 - Depth of Field
2:44 - Macro Still Life
3:09 - Color Macro

Posted: April 22, 2019, 4:43 pm

Cross-platform Raw image processing program RawTherapee has announced its most recent update, version 5.6, which brings along new features and tools to improve the image editing experience.

The flagship feature in RawTherapee 5.6 is new Pseudo-HiDPI support that now makes the interface appear smooth and sharp across various displays regardless of screen size or resolution. The RawTherapee team says Pseudo-HiDPI is enabled by default and uses the font size, DPI and display settings from your computer to to create the best image possible.1

An illustration provided by RawTherapee highlighting the new Pseudo-HiDPI mode.

A new 'Unclipped' processing profile has also been added 'to make it easy to save an image while preserving data across the whole tonal range.' RawTherapee 5.6 also has a new user-adjustable tiles-per-thread setting 'for users who want to find optimal values for their system.' Hundreds of other overall improvements have been made as well behind-the-scenes for improved performance.

RawTherapee is free to download for Linux, macOS and Windows computers. The developers behind RawTherapee have created a helpful Wiki to explain the tools as well as a 'Getting Started' article to help kickstart anew users


1It's worth noting though that there have been issues with certain macOS display settings interfering with the Pseudo-HiDPI mode though, so if you run into any issues, it might be best to turn this feature off for the meantime.

Posted: April 22, 2019, 3:49 pm

Colonel Terry Virts (ret.) is a U.S. Air Force pilot and NASA veteran of two spaceflights – a two-week mission onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2010 and a 200-day flight to the Space Station in 2014-2015. His seven months in space included piloting the Space Shuttle, commanding the International Space Station, three spacewalks, and performing scientific experiments.

While in space he took more than 319,000 photos – the most of any space mission. Virts’ book, View From Above, combines some of his best photography with stories about spaceflight and perspectives about life on Earth and our place in the cosmos. His images are also an integral component of the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet, which Virts helped film and in which he appears.


I understand you were a photographer before you became an astronaut. How did you get started, and why did it interest you?

As a kid I got a Konica SLR. I had to teach myself exposure, shutter speed, focus, and all that. Basically, I taught myself. Neither of my parents were really photographers, but I just loved it. For some reason I was just naturally inclined towards photography, and my parents supported me by getting the equipment.

Long story short, I kept up with it. I’m that dad whose kids are like, “Dad, quit taking pictures!” I’m always having to stop and take a picture.

How did you join the space program, and how did you end up in the role of ‘space photographer’?

I wanted to be an astronaut since I was a kid. It was just my dream. The first book I read was about Apollo, and I was captured. It’s what I wanted to do, and I had pictures of airplanes and space on my walls. I went through the process of becoming a fighter pilot, a test pilot, and eventually made it into NASA.

Every astronaut has to take pictures. We get formal training, not only for still images but also video. By the time I flew on the space shuttle we had gone entirely digital, and I got designated as the photo/TV guy. I’m a photographer, and I was lucky enough to fly in space, so I guess that makes me a space photographer.

Terry Virts' book, View from Above, includes some of his favorite photos from space, stories about spaceflight, and perspectives about life on Earth and our place in the cosmos.

You also had a role in filming the IMAX movie ‘A Beautiful Planet.’ How did that come about?

On my second flight [aboard the ISS] I was a crew medical officer and also a spacewalker, but everybody was a photographer. There was no, “Oh, Terry likes photography, let’s put him up when they’re filming a movie.” Just complete luck of the draw. One day on my calendar before I was in training, it said, “Go to building nine for IMAX training.” I thought, “Hmm, I wonder what it is?” I showed up and the producer and director of photography were there, and I said to myself, “Wow, I get to film an IMAX movie.” There was no thought into it, it just happened.

The right place at the right time?

100% right place, right time. Like we say in the Air Force, I’d rather be lucky than good.

I got to film the movie, and that stuff all went to IMAX, but the stuff I shot for me, that I used in my book, I did as a labor of love. I love photography and wanted to take as many artistic shots as I could.

I showed up and the producer and director of photography were there, and I said to myself, “Wow, I get to film an IMAX movie.”

Most photographers know the drill of throwing gear into a bag before a trip, but space travel obviously requires careful planning. How is the photo gear that goes into space selected?

There are a couple of different ways. There’s NASA equipment, and then there are international partners, like the Japanese and the Europeans, who fly their own equipment. The Russians can get stuff up there really quickly since they don’t have the bureaucracy that we have. They may have less stuff, but if something comes up that they want to fly, they just fly it. NASA has to go through a bureaucratic process and years of approvals.

For example, there’s the GoPro. The Russians wanted to use it, so they built a little box for it and flew a GoPro. I was able to take it outside on a spacewalk and it was really great. We [the US] didn’t have anything for that, and the process of getting it certified would have been expensive and time-consuming. The Russians just built a box and flew it, and it worked. Now I have this amazingly beautiful footage that we never would have had if we had to wait on it.

Click the image above to see a gallery of Terry Virts' stunning space images.

Can you give us some insight into what types of cameras are used aboard the ISS?

The Nikon D4 was my main camera, and now they have D5s, but it’s basically the Nikon professional camera. Then there’s the Canon XF350, which is like a prosumer camcorder, and there are probably 12-15 of those onboard. Each module has one on a bracket. There are another four or five XF350s just velcroed to the wall so that if you need to film something fun or do an experiment, you can do that.

We also had a camera called a Ghost, which is similar to a GoPro. You could plug it in via HDMI and have it downlinked in real-time to show the ground what you were doing. You could squeeze it into tight places. When three Ghosts showed up, I thought “Cool!” so I kept one for myself and another astronaut wanted one. Literally the next day, the other person lost it. We went months with only two Ghosts and finally, at the end of my mission, I’m thinking, “All right, I’ll call the ground and fess up. Hey Houston, sorry, we can’t find one of the Ghosts.” That afternoon we found it. It had floated underneath a work table and was probably there for months.

We also had a Panasonic 3D camcorder you could use to film in 3D. I bought myself a 3D TV and tried to film stuff, then nothing happened with it. I don’t even know if NASA ever processed the 3D stuff. I was kind of disappointed about that.

Astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts receive IMAX training. Both were part of the team that filmed the IMAX movie A Beautiful Planet.

NASA photo

I imagine you also had some cameras for shooting the IMAX film.

We had a Canon 1DC and C500. The 1DC is a professional camera and the C500 is a Hollywood video camera. Those were used for the IMAX.

We also had a Red Dragon, which at the time was the first ever ultra-high-def 4K, Hollywood quality video camera. That thing was just awesome. They warned us and warned us that the file size was too big, so nobody used this thing, and towards the end of the mission I decided, “Man, I took all these stills, I want to get the Red out.” I started filming exclusively with the Red for my last week and shot around a terabyte of video. Houston just about died. It took them a week to download it. It was beautiful.

I was doing a video Skype with [Hollywood director] James Cameron from space, and my crewmate was showing him around and said, “Hey, here’s my crewmate Terry Virts, playing with cameras like he normally is.” I had the Red Dragon, and James looked at it and said, “Oh, I filmed Avatar with that camera.” That was pretty cool.

This video from the ISS highlights some of the 4K footage shot by Virts and his crewmates on board the space station, and provides a sense of time and motion not conveyed by still photos.

Do you run into any special equipment challenges in space?

The big issue you have in space is radiation, and your chips get damaged from radiation. If you ever look at a NASA video and see a bunch of white, blue or green specks that don’t move on a black field they’re radiation-damaged pixels. If they’re moving, they’re stars. Before every IMAX shot, you’re supposed to take a black field image. That would give them data for where the bad pixels were, and they could remove them.

We would get dust on the chip, but that would only happen after about 100,000 pictures. Basically, we would start seeing that as the shutter went up and down, some of the metal would shave off, so there would be little flecks of metal from the shutter.

What about lighting?

Lighting inside is not that big a deal; the internal lighting is not that bad. The problem is, if something was inside and you wanted the Earth exposed at the same time, the camera would need a flash.

I started filming exclusively with the Red for my last week and shot around a terabyte of video. Houston just about died. It took them a week to download it.

But for video, you don’t have the equivalent of a flash. We had still lights, but there weren’t enough lumens on them. There was one particular scene in ‘A Beautiful Planet’ when Samantha [Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti] was in the cupola taking pictures, and I was floating towards her, and the white clouds were too bright and just blew out the Earth. In order to get a picture with both the person inside and the Earth properly exposed, we had to be over a jungle because that would be dark green. We waited until we were going over the Amazon, which is white normally, but Samantha was looking and she’s like “All right, here comes a big patch!”

I started shooting, and then I pushed off. I slowly started moving in towards her, and she was pretending like she was taking pictures. IMAX wanted 30 seconds clips, that was about the standard scene length, and literally at 31 seconds, boom! The background turned into white. It was like a perfectly well-timed shot.

Commander Virts took this picture of the United States Gulf Coast on Feb. 12, 2015.

Photo by Terry Virts

When shooting on a spacewalk, I’m assuming you don’t just put the viewfinder to your eye and shoot.

Actually, you do! When I was doing my spacewalks it [the camera for spacewalks] was a Nikon D2. You can lift the viewfinder to your face and aim it wherever you want, though I never did. I just pointed it in the right direction. You don’t put a 100mm lens on it, but something like a 24mm. It doesn’t have to be perfectly framed.

I took over 300,000 photos in space, but on each of my three space walks I took about ten. That just goes to show you how busy I was.

I took over 300,000 photos in space, but on each of my three spacewalks, I took about ten. That just goes to show you how busy I was. I felt like I was on the clock, so I didn’t have five seconds to stop and take a picture. Plus, the guy I was outside with is one of those people who’s not a photographer, thinks taking pictures is wasting time, and wanted to keep on moving. I just never had time to stop and take the pictures I wanted to take. The problem with taking pictures outside is the time crunch.

What’s your artistic approach to shooting in space?

A lot of guys get the zoom lens out. They zoom in on cities at night, and I did some of that, but you can fly over a city and take a picture from an airplane and it looks exactly like the zoom lens from space. My favorite kind of shots were more big picture; Earth and space, and wide angle, rather than the zoom-in. I wanted to get pictures that you couldn’t get from an airplane.

Most photographers can tell you at least one story about a great shot that got away. Did you experience that?

One day I let go of my CF card by accident. It floated and I was like, “No!” as I reached for it. It floated right between two racks. There’s got to be a two-millimeter gap between racks, and it literally went right down there and I never saw it again. It was a beautiful night aurora scene. I’m still mad about it, but the other 320,000 pictures I took came out fine.

One of the 7 wonders of the Earth, the Grand Canyon in the US West photographed from the International Space Station.

Photo by Terry Virts

What subjects did you enjoy photographing the most?

Sunrises and sunsets were my favorite thing. It was probably day 195 out of 200, and Samantha sees me taking another time-lapse of a sunset and says, “Terry, haven’t you taken enough sunsets?” I said, “I still haven’t gotten the perfect one. I just need one more…”

The photographer’s curse.

Yes, the perfect shot. Or moonset, right? Moonrise and moonsets were awesome. Those pictures are just amazing. In a good sunset or sunrise, you can see so many details in the clouds. The chip doesn’t capture it like the eye does, but it’s pretty close. I love those pictures.

So, did you ever get the perfect sunset?

The very last picture I took in space – I was coming back to Earth in a couple of hours – I wanted to get one more picture. I went down to the Cupola and took off what’s called a scratch pane, which is this piece of plastic that’s supposed to protect the window but all it does is ruin pictures. Whenever you see a sun shot with flared smudge marks it’s just the scratch pane. I closed the aperture to F22 to get a starburst effect, took a picture and looked at it, and I remember thinking as I looked at it on the screen, “That’s the best picture I’ve ever taken in my life. I’m done.” I pulled the CF card out, downlinked it, put my space suit on and came back to Earth. That was the peak of my photography career, it will never get better than that.

Virts captured this photo of the setting sun just a couple hours before returning to Earth. When he looked at it on the camera's screen he thought, "That's the best picture I've ever taken in my life. I'm done."

Photo by Terry Virts

Did you take any photos that had an immediate impact back on Earth?

The most impactful one was the Spock picture. The day before my third spacewalk I get an email, “Hey, Leonard Nimoy passed away. Can you do something?” I’m thinking, “I don’t have any time, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” I ran down to the Cupola and tried to get one of those pictures where my Vulcan salute was properly exposed along with the Earth being properly exposed, but you need to have the right flash and a closed [small] aperture for more depth of field.

I had to get all that stuff set up, fiddled around, probably took 10 or 20 pictures, and finally got one that looked OK. I tweeted it and it got huge instantly – I don’t know how many tens of thousands of likes. It got millions of views. When I travel around the world, people know that tweet. They don’t know it’s me. It wasn’t about me. I just tweeted a picture, and there was no doubt in anybody’s mind what I meant. It was a really cool way to have a tribute to Mr. Spock. What I didn’t know was that that in the background was Boston, Leonard Nimoy’s hometown. Like I said, I’d rather be lucky than good.

pic.twitter.com/ErjTLgCIrL

— Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) February 28, 2015
Terry Virts' tweet honoring Leonard Nimoy and his Star Trek character, Mr. Spock. What Virts didn't notice until later is that Boston, Nimoy's hometown, is visible in the background.

I've been learning to photograph the Aurora borealis, but I’m used to doing it from below. What’s it like to photograph the Aurora from above?

One night I was in the Cupola, hoping for a southern aurora. You never know what you’re going to get; it depends on the sun activity and how close your orbit is to the magnetic pole. I saw this big, giant green cloud. I mean, it was huge. It was way bigger than any I’d ever seen before, and it was right in our orbital path.

There I was floating, and we flew right through this aurora. Above, below, and to both sides, we were surrounded by green plasma. It was like I was in a J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie when they fly through a nebula. It was totally like that, except that I was floating and it was real, but there were no Klingons, so I was good. But that was the most surreal aurora experience. You could see it moving with your eyes, in real time you could see the waves shimmering. Even though the camera brings the colors out more than your eyes see, my eyes, anyway, saw those colors – a little dimmer and less vibrant, but they were there.

Crew aboard the ISS have the unique opportunity to see – and photograph – both the Northern and Southern Lights from above, and sometimes fly through them.

Photo by Terry Virts

Do you feel that your unique opportunity to work in space gives you any special responsibility as a photographer?

I do. One night we were having dinner in the Russian segment, and the Russians have this beautiful window, and it was open and you could look down and see the Earth go by. I said, “Look at that guys! There are over six billion people down there and only six of us up here.” We’re one in a billion, that’s how lucky we are.

It put our fortune, and luck, in context. I feel a duty to share the story. Not only the adventure of space flight but for me, it was more about life on Earth. Space flight is interesting, and fun, and exciting, but the bigger, deeper lessons learned were about the people, and how to treat each other, and life on Earth. I definitely felt a responsibility, and privilege, to share things.

Has your experience as a space photographer had any impact on the way you photograph back on Earth?

I always look up. Most people spend their lives looking down at the ground, and I try to look up. To see clouds, to see the sun’s reflection through the atmosphere, rays of sun peeking through clouds, to see the color of blue in the sky, to see birds, or when you’re in a city, you see architectural patterns. I always try to look up, and maybe in some small way, I think of space when I look up.


For more spectacular space photography follow Terry Virts on Twitter and Instagram.

Posted: April 22, 2019, 2:00 pm
Frans Lanting, pictured at DPReview's offices in Seattle.

Frans Lanting is one of the most recognizable names in photography. With his wife Christine Eckstrom he's created some of the most popular and ambitious photo books of the last 30 years. Known for his distinctive approach to wildlife photography, Lanting has inspired generations of photographers and ecologists with his photography and his environmental advocacy.

Fresh from teaching a Creative Live workshop on bird photography, Frans dropped by the DPReview office recently to talk about his life and career.


Before photography, what was your background?

I was an earthworm, crawling around looking for light! I'm from the Netherlands and I was an environmental economist before I was a photographer. And then I switched careers after I came to the US to do research. I was focused on ecosystem services, which was a novelty at the time, we're talking about the late 70s. I switched to photography in about 1979-1980.

I'd always had an interest in pictures, and in the United States I connected with a very different tradition in photography - outdoor-oriented, and activism. We didn't really have that tradition in Europe. There's a great tradition of natural history, and a great tradition of photography, but [in Europe] the two things didn't quite come together. Nature photography was pretty stagnant in Europe in the 70s, but it was much more of an art-form in the US at the time. The great west coast photographers led the way.

Who were those photographers?

The greats - Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Philip Hyde was really important, too. And they all - especially Phillip and Ansel - lent their names and their work in the service of supporting changes. In partnership with the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and so on. And that really appealed to me.

I found my own way to make a mark in editorial publications. Storytelling in the nature and wildlife field was really underdeveloped at the time.

Frans Lanting in the field, back in the days of film. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

How did you break into that?

By doing it! I could rattle off names of publications and editors, most of the editors are forgotten now but they were really important gatekeepers - the 'influencers' of their time. Editors were much more important back then than they are now. National Geographic was important - there was a day when there were magazines about more than just celebrities. Especially in Europe, the editorial universe was very rich at that time. The 1970s and 80s were a golden era for editorial photography.

There are fewer 'gatekeepers' now, how has that changed the industry?

Editors are gatekeepers, but they're also curators. Curators of talent. They're really important for nurturing talent. People who come in and they have a passion and a vision but they don't know quite how to cultivate their talent. Editors are indispensable for that. It's more difficult for photographers breaking into the profession now to connect with those kinds of people. In the first place, there are far fewer of them, because most of the publishing houses have been hollowed-out, and the few editors still there are so overworked they don't have time to cultivate relationships with talent anymore. That makes it much more difficult for photographers. That vital connection is under a lot of pressure.

But it's not just photography, the same thing is happening to journalism. The world is very different now. I don't want to come off as nostalgic, because things weren't perfect then either but especially now, when we're getting more concerned about whether or not we can trust media, the role of editors is crucial. And of course the role of the writers and photographers who are out there covering things. And that's under so much pressure. Yes you can publish on social media but there's no much noise, and a lot of it is so self-referential it doesn't give you a clue about what's really happening in the world.

Lesser flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

So what was it about your approach to photography that made it different, at the time?

My background was different, I came from academia, so I was trained in social sciences. I had an analytical way of appreciating things that were happening in society. I knew a lot about nature and wildlife - I was passionate about it, but I think my point of view was broader than the more traditionally, more narrowly-defined perspective than most wildlife photographers had at the time.

I've never been [interested] in isolating nature, and ignoring the connections with human society and the environment as a bridge in between. In fact that's one of the areas where I cultivated my interest. I came from Europe, and when I started publishing in North America what I was showing editors was different. It was a breath of fresh air. I was not schooled in photography, I didn't know what the rules were, and I broke a lot of them. I think it made my work more intriguing.

And for editors in Europe, I brought something different back from the US. So I was able to navigate those two worlds.

What makes photography unique as a medium, in your opinion?

Pictures are perfect for this time of instant global communications. They transmit very easily and become a global language. So platforms like Instagram are meant for this era, in combination with smartphones where you can capture, share and consume images. Except for a couple of visionaries, I don't think any of us saw that coming until pretty late in the transition.

Photography has influenced appreciation of the environment, and for examples of that you can go way back to the first photographers who started exploring the American west, with their darkroom in an oxcart. There are celebrated examples from Carlton Watkins and the rest of them, with the first glass plates showing what Yosemite looks like, which were hugely influential. They're still iconic images and sources of inspiration.

Toco toucan face, Pantanal, Brazil. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

I think photography has been there all along, in this process of changing how we think about the world that we're a part of. But photography that is specifically focused on these issues, and their solutions has only come of age in the past 10, 15 maybe 20 years.

Conservation photography as a term didn't exist until 20 years ago. For the longest time, photography that dealt with the earth was kind of a stepchild. It still is - World Press Photo, for example, it took forever to get recognition for 'concern' photography - hardcore photojournalism and pictures of nature. It wasn't considered important. In the world of museums, and fine art, there is finally recognition that this is a legitimate genre, but it's still late in getting recognition.

Can photography make a difference to how people view the world, and their environmental consciousness?

Sure, but only in connection with other activities. The brilliant relationship that I was really inspired by was the one between Ansel Adams and David Brower. David Brower was the chairman of the Sierra Club and the chief of this landmark series of publications, which launched the genre of the coffee table book that celebrated nature. He hand-picked places that were under [environmental] pressure, and he got his friends, Ansel, Phillip Hyde and others to contribute.

The whole idea of coffee table books didn't exist until David Brower decided to use them as a way to communicate. It was hugely influential - and successful. Those books were not intended to sell a lot of copies, they were made to influence the political conversation.

During the course of your career, you must have been able to return to some parts of the world a few times...

Yes, I have been doing that more deliberately over the past couple of years. It's really interesting to see changes, and when they're positive change and negative change, and what makes the difference locally.

The first time I became aware of your work as a young photographer was 'Jungles'. There's less jungle now than there was then - compared to 20, 25 years ago, when you look at the world now, are you worried about the direction we're going in?

Of course. But let me talk a little about that book. The concept behind 'Jungles' was to look at them as a whole, rather than focus on a rainforest here, a rainforest there, which is the more common approach. Now we're realizing, in this era of climate change, that jungles are the green belt around the world which helps do the heavy lifting. They're the lungs of the planet. The book isn't focused on conservation solutions, but that is mentioned. I serve on the advisory council of an organization called Conservation International and we're very concerned, and very focused on providing solutions to climate change. Very smart scientists are calculating that it's unequivocal that the most cost-effective solutions are to conserve nature and let the trees and the jungles do the heavy lifting for us, because they can absorb Co2. Better than any of our human engineered solutions. Which means stemming deforestation, not burning trees, and elevating more forests to protected status.

Is it happening? Yes. Is it happening fast enough? No. Have we lost a lot? Yes. And are we going to get there in time? I don't know. The latest reports indicate that we have maybe 11 years to turn things around, and when you look at how stuck we are politically, I don't know. I don't see how we can get through the bottleneck.

Dead camelthorn trees, Namibia. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

What do you feel is your particular mission, or responsibility as a photographer?

From the very beginning my mission has been to use my personal sense of wonder and create images that can help other people see what we have and what is at stake. And sometimes the sense of wonder is paramount, and that's definitely the case in 'Jungles' and also our 'LIFE' project, which is an imaginary journey from the big bang to the present. Our books and our exhibitions and the events that we do are really intended to be celebrations. For the cause-oriented activities for many years I've focused on magazines. Those editorial platforms are uniquely suited to getting a focused set of images out there with a strong message. With magazines you can absorb things quickly. But magazines are being replaced by other media, consumed on smartphones. Magazines are now considered long-form content!

I'm very active on social media. My Instagram account reaches more than a million people around the world, and I'm now using Instagram in the way that I used to use magazines. Our stories are really substantive, and it's not just a picture of an animal, I really want to educate people. They may stumble across my Instagram account because they love animals, but it's really incredible how people just start connecting with the stories and the issues behind the pictures. There's a real hunger for it. I have 25,000 followers in Indonesia alone, and that's a crucial country. When I speak there I speak to a lot of younger people, and that's the generation we need to cultivate when it comes to influencing voices locally.

'Jungles' came out in 2000, just on the cusp of the digital revolution - how has digital technology changed the way you work?

It's changed everything. Everything except the subject matter. I did an assignment back in the 90s in the Amazonian part of Peru, where we spent months in an upper tributary of the Amazon - very remote, very tough. I would bury film in canisters in the ground to keep them cool. I would periodically dig up some film, and bury the exposed film. It was cooler below the ground than in a Pelican case above. I don't have to do that anymore!

For me, worrying about whether I had actually captured what I was there to do, and not seeing the results for months at a time, compared to now when I can get instant feedback, that's changed everything. Especially if you're trying to push the boundaries of what's technically possible.

Chinstrap penguins on an iceberg, Antarctica. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

It's much easier to get in and out of those locations now too, because travel has evolved. Gear has also changed, it's much more compact and more sophisticated, but it's also become much more difficult to fix.

I can't fix a Nikon D5 or any of its Canon or Sony equivalents on location, but I remember in the old days I was in Turkey, and my camera failed. I went into a watch repair shop. There was a guy there with no expertise in working on cameras, but he was able to fix it because it was a mechanical thing. You can't do that these days.

I was talking about this during my recent Creative Live class: the unimaginable revolution when it comes to the sensitivity of our capture medium. Film ISO sensitivity used to be ISO 25 or 64. And you can't do much in the jungle when you're limited to film stock rated at 64. If I could have had modern tools back in those days... you know, ISO 100,000 - the sky is the limit. That alone has completely transformed everything.

I remember you were using slow sync flash for some of the photos in 'Jungles'...

Yeah, fill flash and all kinds of other things. We were taking big risks.It was partly a creative response, but in part it was a response to the technical limitations. but I was trying to push things far out into times of the day when we otherwise couldn't work. I'm using fill flash less and less now because you don't have to anymore, and it almost looks and feels like an intrusion. That's a big change.

I loved that book.

So did I. It's a classic. I'm so proud of all of these books, because we approached books [at the time] very differently to most of my colleagues, and Benedict Taschen was supportive of that. And he validated his instincts and our intuition.

Red-and-green Macaws in flight, Buraco das Araras, Brazil. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

You have a long association with National Geographic. What's it like to shoot for Nat Geo?

Things have changed considerably since I first started working there. The number of editors has shrunk, budgets are under pressure, everything has to be turned around faster. It used to be a very closed world, with photographers and writers coming up with stories but things are determined much more now by editors and publishers, and decided by executives.

The editorial world has long been a nursery for talent. A place where you could prove yourself, and you were given creative freedom. You weren't being paid a lot, but you were given opportunities to develop as a photographer, and start communicating with editors and photographers, and then the world at large. It's very different these days. Photographers are hired to do this picture, that picture, and that picture - 'this is what we need'. Editorial photography has become more like commercial photography, but it used to be very different.

How long would you get to work on a particular project?

It would depend, for the Geographic it would be measured in months. For other publications, weeks.

What are you working on right now?

I just did a Creative Live class on bird photography, which is very popular around the world. But many people interested in birds practice bird photography in pretty narrow parameters. It was very gratifying to hear people saying that 'I never thought you could do this' or they didn't know you could think about birds in that way, that you could start looking at birds as metaphors, as symbols for environmental change, or examples of design, and so on and so on. That inspires me. I'm at a stage of my career where I get a lot of gratification from nurturing new talent.

If someone came to you and just wanted to improve their bird photography, do you have any quick tips?

Think of birds differently, as a rich subject for photographic expression. Rather than just sitting on a branch doing nothing. Whether you want to challenge yourself technically, by capturing them in flight, or challenge yourself with intricate compositions of birds in flocks, which really becomes a search for patterns. Or whether you look at them as vehicles for visual storytelling about what we're doing to the planet. That's a very different approach to bird photography to what most people practice.

There's nothing wrong with frame-filling portraits of birds, but I want people to think about the character within the bird, so to speak. People should check out the course! And if they really want to learn, they can join me for a workshop.

Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird feeding on ginger torch, Costa Rica. © Frans Lanting/lanting.coms

What's next for Frans Lanting?

Documenting the process of environmental change is something i'm working on, in some specific locations. Environmental change as triggered by economic and cultural changes. I did that in Madagascar last year, I went back to a couple of places I worked 30 years ago, and that was astonishing, to reconnect with individuals and their children and grandchildren and tell stories through their life experience. I also did that recently in the Congo, where I went to go back and worked with bonobos, which I did for the first time 25 years ago.

So that's one thing I'm working on. I'm also working on a longer format publication about my way of practicing photography.

There's a lot of bad news in the world - what gives you hope?

The next generation. People are saying 'No, we're not going to accept incremental change'. This Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg who started lecturing the adults in the room at the Global Economic Forum. Saying 'no we're not going to accept this'. She went on strike, in Sweden. 'I'm going to give up going to school - there are more important things to do'. Hopefully she can rally millions of others around that cause, and the people in their 20s and 30s who are causing huge economic upheaval and technological disruption should rally around the cause of creating a more sustainable planet [too]. Instead of just tinkering with new apps. You know?

You're one half of a creative partnership, with your wife, Christine Eckstrom. How does that influence how you work?

We met at the Geographic. She was a staff writer there. She taught me how to write, how to use words. I've always liked to write, and I started early on because I found that it was a parallel way to express a story. But after we met, we became a unique team. There are other examples of husband and wife symbiotic relationships in the world of photography - Helmut and June Newton, for instance. Very few people realize how important June was for Helmut and vis-versa. Sebastião Salgado, and his wife Lélia - Lélia was hugely important for Sebastião, she gave him a voice and channeled his creativity.

Frans Lanting and editor and filmmaker Christine Eckstrom have worked together since they met at National Geographic after Frans moved to the US in the late 1970s. © Frans Lanting/lanting.com

I think what makes Chris and me unique together is that we developed a vocabulary together that married images and words together in a different way. 'Jungles' is a good example of that. It's very conceptual, and the way we chose the dualities of water and light, order and chaos, form and evolution. It's like poetry. The 'Life' project is another good example. We worked on that for seven years. At the end of it we knew way too much about the evolution of life on earth and we had all these facts and figures, but you bore people to death with that. That's what scientists do.

We found our way back to the essence of it by writing what is essentially an extended poem about life on earth. It was triggered by a Ted Talk I was invited to deliver. I knew I had to describe the project and all the ideas behind it in 18 minutes. I managed to do it, and after we did that - I say 'we' because I was on stage, but Chris and I shaped it together - we knew how to package it for the book.

Now we have a complete toolkit - she taught herself how to use video, so we write, we edit, we produce video, mixed-media and social media. We do all of those things. We have a really good support staff and they help us create things that we believe in.

Looking back over your career, what are you most proud of?

Oh gosh, to distill it to one thing... when I think of all of the photographers, and also scientists who are now active in conservation; that I've been able to inspire other people, and validate for them the idea that there are ways to give expression to things in ways that they might not have thought of previously... that's more important than awards and publications. It's ultimately about making a difference in the lives of other people.


Frans Lanting is a world-renowned photographer and environmentalist. The Collector's edition of his book 'Into Africa' is available now, and for information on Frans' range of online courses, photo workshops and tours, click here. To access Frans' complete collection of Creative Live courses, click here.

Posted: April 22, 2019, 1:00 pm

Tokina has announced the FiRIN 100m F2.8 FE Macro Lens for Sony E mount camera systems.

The lens is constructed of nine elements in eight groups and features a nine blade aperture diaphragm. It features 1:1 maximum magnification, has a minimum focusing distance of 30cm (11.8in), uses a 55mm front filter thread and includes a printed magnification scale on the extending lens barrel to add an extra visual cue when composing shots.

The lens measures in at 123mm (4.84in) long by 74mm (2.91in) diameter and it weighs 570g (1.3lbs). The Tokina FiRIN 100m F2.8 FE Macro Lens is listed for pre-order at B&H for $599. Included in the box is the lens, front and rear lens caps, a BH-533 lens hood and a manual.

Posted: April 21, 2019, 4:19 pm
A slice of meteorite, sandwiched between two linear polarizers.

Neil Buckland is obsessed with detail. For more than fifteen years, the Seattle-based photographer has been doing stitched landscape photography composed of dozens of images, captured on everything from Micro Four Thirds cameras all the way up to medium format. These days, he's become enamored with a new type of landscape - one that is very, very small. It also happens to come from space.

"I've always been fascinated with abstract photography of ordinary things," Buckland says. "There's beauty everywhere, and I especially love using macro lenses to reveal more detail than I can see with my eyes - an extension of seeing more detail is capturing more resolution, more clarity, more information."

When it comes to his newest work, which he's titled Cosmic Microscapes, the objects of Buckland's abstract photography are anything but ordinary. They're impossibly thin slices (i.e. 30 microns 'thick' - human hair averages 90 microns) of formerly space-faring objects that have crashed into Earth over the millennia. And though most of these slides are around 0.75"x1.5" in size, Buckland is making prints from them that are around 12 feet wide and even larger.

By rotating the polarizers, Buckland can alter the visible colors seen through the sample.

I had a chance to sit down with Buckland in his studio in south Seattle to discuss not only how this project came to be, but also how he manages to produce these images – and this insane amount of detail – on a fully custom-built rig.

'The depth-of-field is 3.5 microns thick'

It all started when Dr. Tony Irving of the University of Washington first came to Buckland's studio three years ago to have meteorite slices photographed for a scientific presentation. At that time, Buckland didn't know what this project would grow into.

Buckland's rig is almost entirely custom-made for this specific purpose.

"The first time I looked at [the slide], I thought, 'okay, nothing special,'" Buckland said. Then, Dr. Irving used two linear polarizing filters to pass cross-polarized light through it. "What is this magic? With the cross-polarized light, you get these crazy colors you never knew existed," Buckland said. The colors tell scientists a lot about the chemical composition of what they're looking at – but they also happen to be stunningly beautiful.

Buckland started out using a standard macro lens on a Pentax K-1 DSLR, and while this served him well enough for Dr. Irving's scientific presentations, one thing led to another – and another. He soon bought a Venus Optics 2.5x-5x macro lens, but that also wasn't enough.

Buckland must make incredibly fine adjustments to ensure precise focus across a 1.5" specimen.

After months of tinkering, Buckland found what he was really after: a 10x microscope objective, mounted to his camera via a custom-made adapter, with the camera on a custom-made reinforced metal mounting base that weighs in at around 50 lbs. Despite the concrete construction of his studio building, Buckland couldn't work with a lighter stand. "My biggest, heaviest tripod was useless," Buckland said. "A UPS truck would pass by and I'd see the camera live view shake like crazy." And when you're using Pentax's Pixel Shift technology at this level of magnification, you need absolute and complete stability.

This is because a 10x microscope objective is more magnified than you might think. "I'm only seeing 2 millimeters square of the slide," Buckland said, which is about what you'd see looking through the microscope with your own eye. "But I want to see the whole thing," Buckland said, and so he captures 300 to 400 2x2mm tiles and stitches them together. The capturing process can take up to 4 hours per slide, and focusing alone can take an hour or so. The depth-of-field is only around 3.5 microns(!), so precise calibration is necessary to ensure the whole slide stays in focus throughout the capture process.

Buckland takes a break from lining up his camera to pose for a portrait.

"I've looked at these slices my entire career, and no one has ever really been able to see more than one or two millimeters of the thing at a time [with this detail]," said Dr. Irving. "When you take a slide and you look at it as a geologist, you move it around. But when you move, you lose the context. So there is a practical aspect that these images make for an enhancement of scientific study."

The images already look amazing on a 65" OLED monitor in Buckland's studio, but of course, on the digital display you can still zoom in to see greater detail – and just keep zooming. But then you're moving around again, and losing context. So how do you avoid that? You make prints. Really, really big prints.

Seeing the whole picture

Neil and his pup, Brian, next to a print in his studio.

As referenced earlier, one of Buckland's specialties is stitched panoramic images of vast natural landscapes. The creation of these images was largely inspired by Thomas Hill's early paintings of what would become some of the United States' most treasured national parks.

"I'm obsessed with detail. When I make these giant landscape prints, I want you to stand in front of them and feel like you're there," Buckland said. "With this custom rig, I can do that with a micro subject – not just giant landscapes." Thus, the name 'microscape' was born.

Here's a sampling of some low-res images of Buckland's meteorite work (and you can see far more here).

After spending anywhere from 6 to 10 hours capturing, stitching and cleaning up a meteorite image, Buckland selects a relatively small crop for a final print. His Canon wide-format printer is limited to prints 44 inches wide, so for a 12-foot-wide print, he has to divide the image into strips. These are then painstakingly cut and mounted together, with careful attention paid to a lack of visible seams between the strips. And even though they're enormous, the detail isn't exactly lacking.

After all, prints that large can often fall apart when you're too close - they're meant to be viewed at a distance. "That doesn't work for me," Buckland said. "I want you to get really, really close to my prints – you can't get too close, because your eyes won't be able to focus at that point." Dr. Irving said that, aside from the educational advantages, "if you have the time to stand in front of it, you can really appreciate it – like all art."

What's next

A gallery visitor lingers in front of Buckland's more modest-sized 30 x 40" prints.
Photo by Nate Gowdy | Courtesy Neil Buckland

Dr. Irving continues to bring more samples to Buckland, who continues to photograph them in staggering detail. But Buckland isn't satisfied yet. In addition to a newly opened gallery showing in Seattle, Buckland aims to produce a traveling exhibition of mammoth prints to be shown at natural history museums and continues to tinker with his photography setup for even better results - including considering Panasonic's Lumix S1R and its 187MP high-res mode. But in the meantime?

"I just ordered a 20x microscope objective, which would probably quadruple the number of tiles - which is totally insane." Buckland said. "There's just no logical reason to capture that much detail!" he laughs.

So I ask, why do it then? He points to an enormous, stitched image of El Capitan at sunrise in Yosemite national park hanging prominently in his studio. "Why would you climb such a thing? Because it's there."


Neil Buckland is a photographer based in Seattle who specializes in nature, portrait and product photography. He also runs educational workshops, both at his REDred Photo studio and on location around the world.

Posted: April 21, 2019, 1:00 pm

'The best camera is the one you have with you'. I think Gandhi said that. It's not true, of course - the best camera is the Pentax MX and unlike Gandhi I'll fight anyone who says different.

What is true – and what the author of that aphorism meant – is that the best camera in the world is of no use whatever if you leave it at home. Like many photo obsessives, I carry a camera with me at almost all times, even if it's just the 12MP camera on my phone. The cameras I tend to reach for when I leave the house now are a far cry from the gear I used to shoot with professionally. Gone are the days of carrying two Nikon D3S bodies and a brace of F2.8 zooms on my back, and my back is happier for it.

I'm much more likely to throw a Fujifilm X100F or Leica M10 into my bag these days, despite the inconvenience of fixed focal length lenses. More recently I've been enjoying the versatility of the Nikon Z7 with its 24-70mm F4 kit zoom. But none of the cameras I just mentioned are really, truly, pocketable. That's where the Ricoh GR series comes in.

This is a composite image created from several Raw files from the GR II. I'll often shoot sequences like this on hikes, to simulate the effect of a much wider field of view. I downsized this shot for upload - the original is enormous.

Incidentally, this is the fire lookout hut where Gary Snyder wrote one of his most famous (and one of my favorite) poems. 'Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout'.

Ricoh GR II - stitched image from multiple frames.

I owned a Ricoh GR II for quite a while, and I loved it. The breast pocket of my favorite jacket still has a GR II-shaped shape crease in it, which I suspect is permanent at this point. While 28mm isn't my first choice of focal length, it's great for casual shots of friends, street scenes and general outdoor photography. The GR-series have always been fantastic cameras for hiking and cycling with thanks to their solid build quality and small size, and 28mm is perfect for quick trailside landscapes.

Fitting the GR II's relatively small 16MP files into my workflow ended up being awkward

The only reason I sold my old GR II (to one of my DPReview colleagues, in fact) was that I found myself working on projects that really needed the 24MP+ resolution available in contemporary DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Fitting the GR II's relatively small 16MP files into my workflow - pin sharp as they undoubtedly were - ended up just being awkward, so off it went to a new home.

Had I known how long it would be until we saw a Mark III, I might have kept hold of it. But when the GR III was finally announced, it seemed to solve three of my main frustrations with the GR / II.

While I don't naturally gravitate to the 28mm focal length, it's a great focal length for scenes like this. And the GR III is so small that I can dangle it over a balcony without fear.

ISO 500 | 1/40 sec | F5.6

Firstly there's the resolution boost. 16-24MP isn't a massive leap, but it's enough to make a difference, and enough to make modest cropping an option. I tend to prefer 35mm to 28mm, and in 35mm crop mode the GR III outputs 15MP files – effectively the same resolution as the Mark II at 28mm. I don't shoot in crop modes often, but it is nice to have the option of cropping later and being left with a usable amount of pixels.

Secondly, autofocus has been updated to on-sensor phase-detection. This promises faster and less hesitant AF than the notoriously hunting-prone GR II.

Finally, the sensor in the GR III is stabilized. There's some debate about this point – why do you need stabilization to shoot at 28mm? Well, if you're shooting on a DSLR or most ILCs, you probably don't. Large, heavy cameras absorb moderate handshake pretty well. But with a camera as light as the GR II / III, designed to be used one-handed for grab-shooting, the (figurative) helping hand is actually very useful. I've found that I can safely hand-hold images down to around 1/10sec with stabilization turned on, which is turns out to be very valuable when it comes to things like capturing flowing water, or just keeping ISO low in darker conditions.

An APS-C camera with a stabilized, modern sensor that fits into a shirt pocket? Yes please.

I had held out a vain hope that the GR III might feature some kind of built-in EVF, perhaps of a similar kind to that offered by the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI and its ilk. Realistically though, the minute that Ricoh told us that the GR III would feature IBIS, and would actually be smaller in form factor than the II, I knew there wouldn't be room for an EVF. It turns out there wasn't room for a flash, either. Oh well. I know a lot of photographers who were heartbroken by the loss of the latter, but it doesn't really bother me.

I was nervous to learn that Ricoh had redesigned the GR III's lens, but looking through my images I'm reassured to see that images from the GR III are at least as sharp as I'd expect from previous models. Bokeh isn't amazing, but opportunities for blurring backgrounds on a 28mm F2.8 lens are pretty slim unless you're shooting in the macro range.

Great bokeh? Not exactly. But considering the physics of a 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens, I don't care. The GR III's lens is impressively sharp at all apertures and focus distances, which is much more important to me in a camera of this type.

ISO 200 | 1/125 sec | F2.8

I'm getting ahead of myself. Picking up the GR III after using a GR II for so long I felt like I immediately knew the camera. Comparing them directly, it's obvious that Ricoh has tidied up the user interface quite a lot, as well as dispensing with some of the GR II's physical buttons, but none of the changes have really got in my way. For quick pictures I use the GR III in almost exactly the same way as I used to enjoy shooting with the GR II: in aperture priority mode, usually between F4-8, using auto-area autofocus.

The rear screen is now touch-sensitive, and partly as a consequence it is covered in a layer of highly reflective glass. This makes it almost impossible to accurately preview composition on a bright day, so I've taken to mounting an old 28mm optical viewfinder I had lying in a drawer, which gets me close enough. the downside is that with a finder added, the GR III is no longer quite so pocketable.

Perhaps the GR III's major achilles heel is
battery life

Another option for outdoor use is to increase the screen brightness (I have the movie button set to provide quick access to this setting) but there is a cost. Perhaps the GR III's major achilles heel is battery life. While you can eke out a few hundred shots per charge in a single session with minimal image review, if you're shooting at slower shutter speeds (where the IBIS kicks in) or working with boosted screen brightness, you're taking a risk without at least one spare battery in your pocket. It's not quite Sony Cyber-shot RX1R II-level bad, but it's bad. And like many small battery cameras, the GR III's battery indicator goes from the cheerful-looking full bars icon to the unhappy no bars red blinky icon with very little warning.

This shot demonstrates one of the major shortcomings of the GR III - it's virtually impossible to discern what's on the screen in bright light. I shot several versions of this scene at different exposure settings, and used an external finder for framing.

ISO 100 | 1/1250 sec | F7.1

Fortunately, the GR III is equipped with in-camera charging, via the (more or less) standard USB-C interface used by a lot of cameras and mobile devices these days. The GR II used a fiddly connector which looked like standard USB mini but wasn't. I have three of them, because twice I thought I'd lost my last spare. A full charge takes a couple of hours, but I've found even ten minutes plugged into an external battery pack is enough to get me out of trouble.

Unfortunately there's no workaround for the GR III's autofocus system, which – sadly – is still pretty hopeless in low light. In bright conditions it's definitely improved over the GR II. I don't think there's any doubt about that. Autofocus is acquired faster and with less hunting, and the overall impression in decent lighting is that the GR III focuses about as quickly as a Fujfilm X100T/F. But take the thing indoors or – heaven forbid – start trying to shoot after dark, and it falls apart quickly. The obnoxious green AF light provides enough light for the camera to (eventually, usually) lock on, but it can take several seconds. No kidding.

Ultimately though, I'm prepared to forgive the GR III most of its foibles. The fact is that it's a fast, responsive (usually) camera with a great sensor, effective in-body stabilization and a sharp lens which fits into my shirt pocket. I started this article with a quote and I'll end with another - 'shut up and take my money'.

Ricoh GR III real-world samples

Posted: April 21, 2019, 12:00 pm

The Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony a6400 are two of the newest, most exciting mid-range mirrorless cameras on the market, and while they may not look similar at first glance, both include impressive features and performance specs. Chris and Jordan break down the differences to see which comes out on top.

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Posted: April 20, 2019, 1:00 pm
Brian Ach is an editorial and commercial photographer.

As photographers, most of our focus is on capturing images—finding good material and getting shots with all the gear we’ve spent so much time and money accumulating—but what happens next? For a lot of us, we download the images to a computer and edit a handful that catch our eye, and then… well, there are more photo shoots to pursue. Maybe we’ll apply some keywords, perhaps mark a few favorites, but too often the photos we worked so hard to create are just dumped onto a hard disk and forgotten. We know we should do better, but who has the time?

Professional photographers, that’s who.

To learn how a pro handles this process, I talked to Brian Ach, who frequently photographs celebrity portraits, high-profile events, and glamorous autos for numerous clients. You may remember his work from his stint as Prince’s official photographer during the musician’s 2011 international tour (the photos he returned to after Prince’s passing in “Purple Reign: Photographer Brian Ach shares his experiences of working with Prince”). He outlined his entire workflow, from preparing to leave for an event through handing off final images and making sure everything is backed up.

Brian's outlined his entire workflow, from preparing to leave, through handing off final images and making sure everything is backed up

Although a professional’s workflow is different from that used by most photographers, there are aspects anyone can use in their own workflow to better manage their library.

A man of many skills, Brian shoots everything from rock and roll world tours to automotive ads. Shown here: Journey at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Understanding Expectations

To get a sense of how Ach’s workflow may differ from most photographers’ approaches, I asked him to describe the types of high-pressure assignments that he encounters. In most cases, time is the number one factor at play.

“If I'm shooting an event for Getty or WireImage or AP Images, time is of the essence,” he said. “If you're doing the red carpet and don't have an onsite editor, you want to turn around your best pictures as quickly as possible and get them up on the wire so you can get placement and, basically, make money. From the end of the event, the goal is to have everything captioned and up on the site in two hours. That's the worst case scenario—you're really looking to do it quicker than that. Often it will be trying to get your top 10 or 15 pictures out in 45 minutes or less.”

'Always import your card immediately after you're done shooting.'

He noted that when shooting a big job like the Academy Awards or the Tony Awards, photographers are usually hard-wired via Ethernet cables to editing stations on site where editors send images out as soon as possible. Sometimes he shoots the red carpet as a solo photographer, where there may be on-site runners who collect memory cards every 15 or 20 minutes from each photographer to deliver to editors. And, of course, there are plenty of events where he’s responsible for everything.

“Usually when I’ve worked with Getty, it’s what they call a hired job,” he said. “I’m often the guy inside the party, which means I’ll have an editor on site. You have 1500 frames and you need to send them out as soon as possible because you want to beat everybody else and get the stuff out correctly.”

When shooting a high-profile event, it is essential to get your photos up on the wire before other photographers.

During the Shoot

Regardless of which type of event he’s shooting, Ach has developed a consistent workflow through years of hard-won experience.

“I do everything the exact same way every time, because once you have a workflow, you do it the way you do it,” he said. “If you change anything—you have to trust me on this—you will screw it up in a big way. Something will happen. It took me probably my first year-and-a-half to two years, no lie, just to get a workflow.”

Usually we think of photo workflow as the process that begins after you’re done shooting, but for Ach it’s earlier than you might expect: in his studio preparing to leave, formatting cards and making sure batteries are charged.

'I always keep fresh cards in my right pocket. Cards that I've shot on, I keep in my left pocket.'

“It’s very hard for me to separate out the workflow from shooting,” he said. “When I get to the event, if I know I'm shooting multiple cards I always keep fresh cards in my right pocket. Cards that I've shot on, I keep in my left pocket. Always. I've learned not to put them back in the bag, or put them in my jacket or anything like that. Right pocket, fresh cards. Left pocket, used cards. So after I shoot the event, I come back to the studio. Whatever is still in my right pocket I just put back in the bag.”

Celebrity portrait shoots are another high pressure assignment that Brian specializes in - he often has only a few minutes with his subjects to nail the shot. Shown here: Director and screen writer Christopher McQuarrie.

We’ve all received the advice that it’s best to capture photos correctly in-camera, but in environments like these, it’s even more critical.

“White balance and exposure are two of my biggest things,” he said. “Put a gel on your flash, create a custom white balance, and then get it right [before the event begins]. I don’t want to have to waste the time afterward processing it. It sounds so obvious, but it’s not if your editor has to tweak your white balance for every shot and you’ve got 100 shots and your red carpet photos are coming out slightly yellow. The editor may not have time to do it—they may need to just send it out.”

To assist editors, or for his reference later if he’s doing the editing, Ach will mark images during the shoot that stand out, using a camera’s built-in tagging or image-protection features.

'Go out and over-shoot everything and be brutal on yourself when evaluating'

“You can help your editor by tagging certain photos that are very good or very important,” he said. “You’re not trying to tell the editor how to do their job; you’re simply saying ‘here’s that photo.’ They can look at the previous 10 or 15 frames, or the 10 or 15 afterward, and pick whatever they think is best based on your recommendation.”

And how does one know which images rise above the others? “It’s training your eye," he said. "Look at books, look at everything and try to figure out what makes them good. And then go out and over-shoot everything and be brutal on yourself [when evaluating them].”

Ach mentioned he once shot New York Fashion Week events and had a day where he shot 17,000 frames. “Thank God I had an editor who was very good, and he was able to quickly whittle that down," he said. "It’s just pattern recognition, and knowing what the shot is and what’s good. And the only way you can get better at that is shooting a lot and looking at a lot.”

Not all of Brian's assignments involve models and celebrities.
Posted: April 20, 2019, 12:00 pm

According to a report [partial paywall] from Nikkei Asian Review, Canon is planning to lower its profit forecasts for the 2019 fiscal year by 20 percent — amounting to approximately 50 billion yen — due to shrinking camera sales.

What's to blame for this downturn? According to Nikkei, the digital camera and semiconductor markets are shrinking due to the increasing capabilities of smartphone cameras. Below is the full translated section of the report:

'Canon will lower its forecast for the fiscal year ending December 2019. Consolidated operating profit (US GAAP), which indicates the mainstay of the business, is likely to decrease by 20% over the previous fiscal year to just over 270 billion yen. About 50 billion yen lower than the previous forecast. The shrinking of the digital camera market and the deterioration of the semiconductor market due to the functional improvement of smartphones (smartphones) will hit hard.'

This report echoes the drop in global camera sales reported by the Japanese Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) earlier this month.

Posted: April 19, 2019, 7:33 pm

Instagram boasts one billion active monthly users. One of its defining features is the ability to like posts. Recent studies indicate that addiction to social media, and the number of likes received on content, is akin to drug use. Instagram is currently working on a prototype design that will conceal the number of likes on posts. Likes will only be visible to the person who made the post.

This testing in design change was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, a prominent reverse-engineering expert who has uncovered many of Instagram's planned features before they were announced or launched. Wong spotted the tweaks in the Instagram Android code base and has generated the following screenshots:

Instagram is testing hiding like count from audiences,

as stated in the app: "We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get" pic.twitter.com/MN7woHowVN

— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 18, 2019

The screenshots clearly display the adjustments in design as likes are not visible on the public interface. There is also a ‘View Likes’ button which lists the users who liked a specific post.

Wong says the test states that Instagram 'want(s) your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.'

Instagram claims it has not tested the feature. In a statement to The Verge, a spokesperson for the company said: 'We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.'

Wong has also discovered testing for new stickers in Instagram's Direct Messaging service.

Instagram Direct is testing Stickers pic.twitter.com/VEpXMgEnZP

— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 18, 2019

Instagram has faced a series of challenges this year. Facebook recently revealed that millions, not tens of thousands, of Instagram users had their passwords stored in plaintext. The services co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, also parted ways last September over disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg on the app's future.

Posted: April 19, 2019, 6:58 pm

Leica is facing backlash in China following the publication of a video called 'The Hunt' set in 1989 during, among other things, the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. In response to the video, Chinese social media website Weibo has banned the use of the word 'Leica' -- attempts to search for content in English and Chinese using that keyword returns zero results.

'The Hunt' is a fictionalized video that primarily follows a Western photojournalist who attempts to capture the Tiananmen Square protests using a Leica camera1. Though the video never explicitly mentions the protests, it features the text 'Beijing, 1989,' and concludes with the iconic 'Tank Man' image as a reflection in a Leica camera's lens.

The video went viral on social media in China, where a number of users have lambasted the dramatic reenactment. Soon after, Weibo banned posts containing the word 'Leica' due to the video's 'violation of relevant laws and regulations or the Weibo Community Convention,' according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

SCMP claims Leica didn't commission and does not sanction the video, which was reportedly produced by Brazillian marketing company F/Nazca Saatchi Saatchi. The news source published a statement from Leica, which expressed regret over 'any misunderstandings or false conclusions that may have been drawn' regarding the video.

The controversy hits Leica amid its partnership with Chinese company Huawei and its plan to launch 20 to 30 new stores in China. Likewise, the video arrives during a particularly tense time for the Chinese government — June 4 is the 30th anniversary of the government's deadly suppression of the pro-democracy protests.

For its part, Leica has been criticized for distancing itself from the video, which has been praised by some as a poignant reminder of the pro-democracy movement and the Chinese government's bloody response. The Communist Party of China censors the Tiananmen Square Massacre and related protests and as such is not expected to make a public statement on the video.

@duckrabbitblog Whoa, this Leica ad is atrocious in its stereotypical, aggrandizing depiction of the white saviour vs the dangerous, dark, unintellegible "other"- They could've just called it The Predator: https://t.co/TTuh9e7eOX

— David Jazay (@DavidJazay) April 18, 2019

The video has also drawn criticism across social media for its 'stereotypical, aggrandizing depiction of the white saviour vs the dangerous, dark, unintellegible "other,"' as seen in the above tweet from photographer and filmmaker David Jazay.


1It's worth noting the iconic 'Tank Man' image was captured on a Nikon FE2 camera through a Nikkor 400mm 5.6 ED-IF lens and TC-301 teleconverter with a roll of Fuji 100 ASA color negative film, not any Leica camera.

Posted: April 19, 2019, 6:05 pm

Last month, Facebook shared a blog post detailing how passwords of Instagram, Facebook and Facebook Lite users were stored in plaintext on its servers. At the time, Facebook said only 'tens of thousands of Instagram users' were affected. Now, Facebook has updated the post to say 'millions of Instagram users' had their passwords stored in plaintext on its servers.

Facebook claims 'these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed' and says it will notify the users with exposed passwords. Krebs on Security reports more than 20,000 Facebook employees had access to the plaintext passwords, some of which date as far back as 2012.

Regardless of whether or not you've been notified by Facebook of a breach, it would be a good idea to change your Facebook and Instagram passwords as well as the passwords on any other login that shares those passwords.

Posted: April 19, 2019, 3:22 pm

Back in 2015 Dutch start-up Wundershine announced the Makerframe, a wooden picture frame that could print your images with a built-in inkless thermal printer and swap them out using a built-in framing mechanism. Old prints were stored inside the frame for "re-framing" at a later stage. System control and image curation were performed via a mobile app and a web interface was in planning as well.

Unfortunately the Makerframe never made it to market. The company says that since the initial announcement it has learned that "for most consumers simplicity, affordability and easy refresh are more important than instant refresh."

This is why only a simpler version of the Makerframe, the Reframe, has now been launched and made available for purchase. The Reframe system consists of wall-mounted, wooden picture frames with a slide-in and clamping mechanism. Compatible prints can be ordered via a mobile app and are delivered by mail.

The frame comes with a hidden slot at the bottom for easy image-swapping and Wundershine says your photos are delivered to your home in the shape of "gallery quality prints on heavy card stock."

The mobile app lets you curate an image queue from multiple cloud services and order new prints. The Reframe is available now in solid natural oak and walnut and white and black for 79 Euros ($89). A pack of three will set you back 199 Euros ($223). All frame purchases include a voucher for a photo pack. Head over to the Wundershine website for more information.

Posted: April 19, 2019, 1:44 pm

We've spent a little more time shooting with Sony's new a6400, and as we work towards the completion of a full review, we've updated our initial gallery of sample images with additional shooting in and around Seattle. Check out our updated gallery to see what the a6400 can do.

View our gallery of real-world samples from the Sony a6400

Posted: April 19, 2019, 1:00 pm

Fujifilm has released a firmware update for its midrange X-T30 mirrorless camera. It aims to reduce the likelihood of accidentally pressing the Q.Menu button which, as we pointed out in our review, is one of the most frustrating things about an otherwise-great camera. Fujifilm says that the update makes the button slower to react to being pressed, thereby reducing the likelihood of accidentally opening the Q.Menu.

An additional update coming in June will allow you to redefine the function of the Q.Menu button, or disable it entirely.

We've installed the new firmware on our X-T30 to see how well it works at reducing accidental button-pressing, and will update our review as needed.

The firmware update Ver.1.01 from Ver.1.00 incorporates the following issue:

  • 1.Improved operability of the Q (quick menu) button
    To avoid accidentally opening the Q (quick) menu, the button reaction time has been increased.
    • *FUJIFILM Corporation plans an additional firmware update in June. This will allow customers to use the Q button as a Fn button. This planned update also allows the user to disable the Q button and adds it as a choice in the Function (Fn) Settings enabling the option to assign it to a different Fn button.
Posted: April 18, 2019, 7:27 pm

Capturing a group selfie can be a daunting task. Someone is always looking the wrong way or unhappy with their facial expression in the shot, usually resulting in a large number of unusable shots in your camera roll. Google has now developed a clever piece of AI software for its Pixel phones that should make things much easier and reduce the image waste on your device.

Photobooth is a new shutter-free mode in the Pixel 3 Camera app. With the mode activated you hit the shutter once and the camera will automatically capture a shot when the camera is stable and all subjects have good facial expressions and their eyes open.

Unlike face, smile and blink detection features of the past Photobooth does not simply rely on the shape and specific features of the human face. Smartphone processing power allows for better autonomous control of the capture process by the device. Photobooth is capable of identifying five expressions: smiles, sticking your tongue out, kisses, duck face, puffed out cheeks, and a look of surprise.

The Google engineers trained a neural network to identify these expressions in real time. After pressing the shutter button every preview frame is analyzed, looking for one of the expressions mentioned above and checking for camera shake.

In the camera app a white bar that expands and shrinks indicates how photogenic the preview scene is deemed by the algorithm, so users have some idea when the camera is likely to trigger the capture.

Some of the technology has been ported from one of Google's now terminated hardware projects, the Clips lifelogging camera.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 6:50 pm

On April 18, Canon released firmware version 1.2.0 for its EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera, adding eye-detection AF and small AF frame size support for Servo AF when shooting still images. In addition, both AF options are available while shooting videos regardless of the camera's Movie Servo AF setting, according to Canon.

As with the version 1.1.0 firmware update released in February, the new 1.2.0 update is fairly small. Joining the new AF support are fixes for the following bugs: incorrectly displayed electronic level in the EVF, improperly rotated info displayed in the EVF, and an issue with updating the WFT-E7 firmware.

The version 1.2.0 update is available to download from Canon's Support website.

The full changelog is below:

Firmware Version 1.2.0 incorporates the following fixes and enhancements:

Eye-detection AF

  • Supports Servo AF when shooting still images.
  • Now available when shooting movies regardless of "Movie Servo AF" setting.

Small AF Frame Size

  • Supports Servo AF when shooting still images.
  • Now available when shooting movies regardless of "Movie Servo AF" setting.

[Bug Fixes]

  • Under certain conditions the electronic level displayed in the electronic viewfinder did not display properly.
  • Under certain conditions information displayed in the electronic viewfinder was not properly rotated.
  • Under certain conditions updating the firmware for the wireless file transmitter WFT-E7 was not possible.

This firmware update is for cameras equipped with firmware up to Version 1.1.0. If the camera's firmware is already Version 1.2.0, this update is unnecessary. When updating the firmware of your camera, please first review the instructions thoroughly before you download the firmware.

The firmware update takes approximately 6 minutes.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 6:10 pm

For the first time in its history, the World Press Photo Foundation disinvited a photographer from its awards ceremony. The organization announced its decision to withdraw photojournalist Andrew Quilty's invitation following allegations of 'inappropriate behavior,' according to the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).

According to CJR, World Press Photo Foundation managing director Lars Boering confirmed Quilty was disinvited from the awards ceremony held in Amsterdam earlier this month after the foundation received 'reports of inappropriate behavior' made against the photographer. Details about the allegations haven't been made public, however.

Boering shared a statement with CJR, which states, in part:

Our protocol is that when we learn from reliable sources that someone associated with us has allegedly engaged in inappropriate behavior we take action. Because of our protocol, we called him on 2 April to say he was not welcome at our Awards Show and Festival. We cancelled his invitation to the Awards Show, the Festival, and his flight and accommodation.

Quilty still received his award, with Boering explaining that the foundation's current rules did not provide a basis for revoking the award. However, World Press Photo plans to review its rules ahead of the 2020 contest, Boering said.

In response to the foundation's decision, Quilty said in a statement provided to CJR via his lawyer:

No allegations of inappropriate behavior have been made known to me. As a supporter of my female colleagues and the #MeToo movement, I would frankly and openly address any concerns about my conduct, if raised.

Quilty is known for his work in Afghanistan; his images have appeared in a number of notable publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and National Geographic. Quilty was previously awarded a George Polk Award, six Walkley Awards, a Sony World Photography award, and more, according to his website.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 5:26 pm

Kandao, the makers of professional-grade 360-degree cameras and the Kandao Raw+ image stacking tool for Raw files has launched another potentially very useful software feature. AI Slow-motion is designed to convert 360-degree video footage that has been recorded at a regular 30 frames per second into 300 fps super-slow-motion clips.

The software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to predict and generate intermediate frames for a smooth and detailed slow-motion output from existing 360/VR footage.

The company says that compared to optical flow or interpolation methods that are used in other applications, the AI-generated footage offers more accurate frame interpolation as well as fewer jagged edges and other artifacts. The software also requires less powerful hardware than comparable systems.

The feature will first be implemented into the Kandao QooCam Studio and Kandao Studio applications, allowing for an up to 10x slow-motion effect. For example, 360-degree video originally captured at 8k 30fps can be converted into 8K 240fps slow-motion or 4k 60fps video into 4K 480fps footage, by selecting a factor of eight during the 360 stitching workflow in the software software.

The bad news is that, although the algorithm behind the feature can work with any existing videos, in a first step the technology will only work with video from Kandao cameras. However, the company says it will make AI slow motion available for other cameras in the future, which is good news for 360-degree videographers who would like to work with super-slow-motion without splashing out on ultra-powerful hardware.

Kandao camera users can now download Qoocam Studio with AI slow motion free of charge on the Kandao website. Kandao Studio V3.0 with AI slow-motion will available on 23rd April.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 4:41 pm

2019 Sony World Photography Award Winners Announced

The 12th annual Sony World Photography Awards received a record-breaking 326,997 entries, submitted from 195 countries and territories, across ten categories. The World Photography Organization, who partners with Sony on one of the largest and most prestigious photography competitions in the world, announced the winners in an awards ceremony held at the Somerset House in London.

Bologna-based Italian artist Federico Borello won the coveted Photographer of the Year ​title for his series Five Degrees. The thought-provoking collection explores the plight of male suicide in the Southern India farming community of Tamil Nadu. The region experienced its worst drought in 140 years during 2016-2017. Borello's collection of images, based on a study from Berkeley University, examined the parallels between climate change, rising temperatures, and increased rates of suicide.

Bologna-based Italian artist Federico Borello won the coveted Photographer of the Year ​title for his series Five Degrees. The thought-provoking collection explores the plight of male suicide in the Southern India farming community of Tamil Nadu.

The purpose of the Sony World Photography Awards is to support the continuous development of photographic culture. Borello won $25,000 to develop future projects along with professional equipment from Sony. Sony, in partnership with the World Photography Organization, also provides a platform to new talents of the future in the Professional, Open, Youth and Student competitions with prizes ranging from $3,500 to $7,000.

Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, which will showcase both shortlisted and winning images, is on show at Somerset House from April 18th to May 6th. It will move on to other international destinations, thereafter, including Japan, Italy, and Germany. Tickets for the London event can be purchased here.

Submissions for the 2020 competition will open Saturday, June 1st, 2019 and are free of charge.

Photographer of the Year and 1st Place, Documentary

Photo © Federico Borella, Italy, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


About the photo: This skull of a farmer who reportedly committed suicide, pictured above, was used during a protest in Delhi. Farmers held it high and demanded a drought relief package along with a loan waiver for peasants from the state.

About the series: Could the dramatic increase in Indian farmers who take their own lives be closely connected to climate change and rising temperatures? A study from Berkeley University, found a correlation between climate change and suicide among Indian farmers.

It is estimated that 59.300 farmer suicides over the last 30 years are attributable to climate change. According to experts, temperatures in India could increase by another 5°F by 2050. Without focused government intervention, global warming will lead to more suicides all over India. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt through investing in production, and repaying previous loans.

Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure. The impact of climate change affects global wellbeing, going beyond India and threatening mankind as a whole. This project is located in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, which is facing the worst drought for 140 years.

Open Photographer of the Year

Photo © Christy Lee Rogers, United States, Open Photographer of the year, Open competition, Motion, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Rogers captured this image, underwater, in Hawaii as part of her Muses Collection. She used the surface of a pool as her canvas and leveraged effects such as the refraction of light, plus shooting at night, to create a dramatic scene she describes as 'reality-bending.'

Youth Photographer of the Year

Photo © Zelle Westfall, United States, Youth Photographer of the Year, Youth, Diversity, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Abuot is the friend of the student photographer, 18, who was testing out her equipment. She immediately knew she had captured what she wanted in the initial shot.

In her own words: 'Abuot is my friend from school and she is one of the funniest people I know. In today's society, with skin bleaching products and colorism flooding the media, it's important to highlight the beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are "too dark."'

Student Photographer of the Year

Photo © Samuel Bolduc, Canada, Student Photographer of the Year, Student Focus, 2018 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: The orange groves of La Terreta inspire a strong sense of pride in Villaneuva and the natives who 'love our roots, the richness of our land, our culture, our people, our identity.' This photo depicts the women who select the oranges that will be shipped to markets around the world.

Series Description: In Valencian, there is a word that describes pride for the land where I belong: La Terreta. A feeling that surrounds us all, be part of La Terreta is to love our roots, the richness of our land, our culture, our people, our identity.

Every time I go to La Terreta there is a sign that I see on the road that welcomes me home: the orange groves. That is why in this series I have focused on capturing daily life around the orange trees. From the farmers who plant and care for the trees to harvest the fruit, to the women who choose the oranges that will end up around the world.

The orange tree is the essence of my land, it maintains the feeling of belonging and leaves the door open to future generations, spreading a message about the value of taking care of what nature gives us as a part of our identity.

1st Place, Architecture

Photo © Stephan Zirwes, Germany, 1st Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Public pools are accessible by every class of people in Germany. The photographer has pleasant memories of summers spent in them during his childhood. He captured this overview of one of them with a drone.

Series Description: In Germany, pools are public. They are part of social and cultural life, open for all kind of social classes, a place where people spend a lot of time, especially in childhood and which leaves pleasant memories. Everybody can afford the inexpensive entrance fee. The series was shot by drone, in summer 2018 at a height of only a few meters.

1st Place, Brief

Photo © Rebecca Fertinel, Belgium, 1st Place, Professional competition, Brief, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Thanks to her friend, Tracy, who invited her to the wedding where this image was captured, the photographer got acquainted with the unabashed approach to life of the Congolese community in Belgium along with the Bantu concept “Ubuntu”: that you only really become human when you are connected to everything and everyone. The bridesmaids in this photo are dancing with each other and the wedding guests.

Series Description: In August 2015 the photographer (b. 1991) was invited to a wedding by her friend Tracy. Here, the photographer was introduced to the warm, unabashed approach to life of the Congolese community in Belgium and the Bantu concept “Ubuntu”: that you only really become human when you are connected to everything and everyone.

The concept of Ubuntu seems to intertwine with the desire to belong to a group and maintain a group identity in a changing environment. Showing the ambiance but also the silent moments in between, I tried to capture the feeling of an event that seems like a true celebration, focused on joy and ritual and not on the need for a perfect venue. This project wants to place the viewer in an environment that most have experienced at one time or another at a wedding, party or a wake.

1st Place, Creative

Photo © Marinka Masséus, Netherlands, 1st Place, Professional competition, Creative, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Marginalized groups are getting more vocal, gaining confidence and claiming their rightful place in society. Whether it is the LGBT+ community, people of color, women resisting objectification, and especially Down's Syndrome, people are speaking up in favor of equal rights. With the advent of technological advances in prenatal screening, the narrative surrounding inclusion of individuals with Down's Syndrome is especially urgent.

Series Description: This series is part of the Radical Beauty project, an international photography project which aims to give people with Down’s Syndrome their rightful place in visual arts. The young women I worked with shared a strong will to succeed.

To prove themselves. It must be beyond frustrating to be underestimated all the time. With ‘Chosen [not] to be’ I reflect on their reality - the barriers they face, society’s refusal to see their capabilities, the invisibility of their true selves - and translate their experiences visually. In the Netherlands, people with Down’s Syndrome have collected their experiences in a book, called Zwartboek (Black book).

They have offered this book to the government as a catalyst for change. Reading the collection of stories in this book broke my heart. There is so much misinformation. This misinformation leads to misconceptions and widely held preconceived notions which profoundly impact the lives of people with Down’s.

1st Place, Documentary

Photo © Federico Borella, Italy, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Taken in May, 2018, this is a portrait of Rasathi, the wife of Selvarasy, a farmer who committed suicide one year ago by hanging himself in his own field. He got into debt with a cooperative society. Five Degrees is the world's best series of work, selected from the 10 Professional category winners.

Series Description: Could the dramatic increase in Indian farmers who take their own lives be closely connected to climate change and rising temperatures? A study from Berkeley University, found a correlation between climate change and suicide among Indian farmers. It is estimated that 59.300 farmer suicides over the last 30 years are attributable to climate change.

According to experts, temperatures in India could increase by another 5°F by 2050. Without focused government intervention, global warming will lead to more suicides all over India. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt through investing in production, and repaying previous loans. Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure.

The impact of climate change affects global wellbeing, going beyond India and threatening mankind as a whole. This project is located in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, which is facing the worst drought for 140 years.

1st Place, Landscape

Photo © Yan Wang Preston, United Kingdom, 1st Place, Professional competition, Landscape , 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Part of an eight-year project by Wang to explore the upheaval of natural habitats to create manmade cities in China, this photo depicts a lone quarry. A young sapling stands in the center, sustained by a bag of nutrition liquid and a pile of semi-artificial red soil.

Series Description: The series depicts the otherworldly “ecology recovery” landscape in Haidong Development Zone in Dali, Yunnan Province, China. Here, a small rural area is being urbanised systematically to create “an international leisure town and an ecology model town.”

In doing so, the topsoil of the entire area is replaced by a type of red, semi-artificial soil, which forms the base for introduced, mostly non-indigenous plants, including thousands of mature trees. Meanwhile, green plastic netting is used to cover everything unappealing to the eye, from construction waste to disused quarries.

The town’s objective here has shifted from an “ecological” concern to a cosmetic one of trying to be visually green. The images are part of an eight-year project “Forest” (2010-2017), for which the photographer investigates the politics of recreating forests and “natural” environments in new Chinese cities.

1st Place, Natural World & Wildlife

Photo © Jasper Doest, Netherlands, 1st Place, Professional competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Bob is a flamingo from the Caribbean. His life changed permanently when he accidentally flew into a hotel window and got a concussion. His caretaker, Odette Doest, is a vet who runs a local rehabilitation center for animals. Bob is an ambassador for FDOC, an organization that educates locals about the importance of protecting the island’s wildlife.

Series Description: Bob is a Caribbean flamingo, from the Dutch island of Curaçao. His life took a dramatic turn when he flew into a hotel window, leaving him severely concussed. He was cared for by Odette Doest, a local vet who also runs a wildlife rehabilitation centre and conservation charity – the Fundashon Dier en Onderwijs Cariben (FDOC). Existing disabilities meant Bob couldn’t be released, but instead he became ambassador for FDOC, which educates locals about the importance of protecting the island’s wildlife.

1st Place, Portraiture

Photo © Álvaro Laiz, Spain, 1st Place, Professional competition, Portraiture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: In Chukchi culture, past, present and future are intimately linked. The Edge series portrays the idea of shared memory and science through population genetics data analysis for every participant.

Series Description: Humans have inhabited North America for at least 16,500 years since they first stepped through the Bering Strait. The Chukchi, a Paleo-Siberian tribe from the Russian side of the Bering Strait may be key to understanding how America was inhabited. In Chukchi culture, past, present and future are intimately linked.

You are not just you: you are your father, your grandfather and your great-grandfather, back to the first Bering Strait hunter. Thanks to population genetics research we are now certain that the first Chukchi hunters left their genetic footprint in all Native American people when they first settled in America. From the Navajo to the Mayans; from Alaska to Tierra de Fuego.

The Edge combines this poetic yet powerful idea of shared memory and science through population genetics data analysis for every participant. A visual journey where past and future combine, exploring a period of our history full of unanswered questions and raising new ones about our understanding of current migratory processes across the entire American continent.

1st Place, Sport

Photo © Alessandro Grassani, Italy, 1st Place Professional competition, Sport , 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


About this photo: Part of the series, Boxing Against Violence, this image depicts 16-year-old Elysèe. She is a part of city boxing club in Goma, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In her words: 'I've been boxing for 2 years, it's something that gives me strength and courage to defend myself and makes me feel accepted everywhere. In this city there is so much violence that you must always be ready to react. Under the ashes of this society there are latent conflicts, a violence ready to explode at any moment. Thanks to boxing I feel ready to face these dangers.'

Series Description: Goma, North Kivu. This area has sadly been labelled the “rape capital of the world” and one of the worst places in the world for women to live. All these sad records have not stopped women, whose will to go on and overcome the atrocities suffered over the years, is stronger and more alive than ever in the story I'm telling.

Some boxing clubs in Goma are the meeting place for a group of women who have found hope and passion in boxing. Here, women not only learn to throw punches, but to regain strength and the desire to fight against injustice, while dreaming and training to become the next world boxing champion. I created this series of portraits to depict this incredible group of young women living in a deeply patriarchal society, a place where women have only one way to survive: learning to fight.

1st Place, Still Life

Photo © Nicolas Gaspardel & Pauline Baert, France, 1st Place, Professional competition, Still Life, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Two ingredients, combined, make something that looks disgusting but is hypnotic, nonetheless, with its composing and pops of color.

Series Description: With a touch of mockery, BEURKMAGAZINE photographs food every day through metaphors that are as poetic as they are disturbing. For BEURKMAGAZINE, society is “yuck” in a pop culture universe.

Our creative approach is composed of antithesis. Dali amused himself by composing works with irrational associations of forms, images and objects; Maurizio Cattelan, meanwhile, focuses on the subversion of symbols and provocation; we are somewhere in between, with a more general than personal point of view and a desire to give ugliness an artificial beauty.

Food is at the center of our ideas, which are magnified, manipulated and reworked to highlight our message. The pop tone, tight shots and especially the titles are an integral part of our signature.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 3:39 pm
Modern architecture abounds in Palm Springs, mid-century and otherwise.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1600 sec | F6.3 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

On the topic of "When will smartphones make most dedicated cameras obsolete?" I tend to be in the "We're pretty much there already" camp. In my own day-to-day photography, and even for some special occasions where I expect to take more than a few photos, I'll stick with my smartphone rather than bringing along a dedicated camera.

That wasn't the case on a recent trip to Palm Springs. I shot with both the Pixel 3 and a Micro Four Thirds camera (the Olympus Pen F, specifically). Here's where each of them shine, and why I'm glad I had a dedicated camera at my side.

My photographic priority in Palm Springs was the city's veritable smorgasbord of mid-century modern buildings. Banks, hotels, liquor stores – all housed in stunning modern buildings that are extremely Instagrammable. You know you've hit the architectural jackpot when you're excited to photograph the town BevMo!.

Literally the roof of a BevMo! liquor store.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/800 sec | F5.6 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

There are obvious benefits to any smartphone, including of course the Pixel 3. It's always with you, even by the pool, photos are automatically backed up to your image library, everything is immediately shareable. But the Pixel 3 presents a few unique advantages: it handles high-contrast scenes particularly well, and the multi-shot Night Sight mode captures a level of detail well beyond what we're used to seeing from smartphones, even in the daytime.

The Pixel 3 does a fine job balancing scenes like this one, and its IP68 waterproof rating means it's safe poolside.
Google Pixel 3 XL ISO 59 | 28mm equiv. | F1.8

There are some disadvantages though, which figured into my decision to bring along the Olympus Pen F and 12mm lens. First, the Pixel's main camera wasn't quite wide enough for the kind of photography I wanted to do. Photographing mid-century modern buildings from the sidewalk along a busy road doesn't make it easy to just back up to get the whole thing in the shot.

Using panorama mode for a wider shot isn't a great option either – image quality is pretty poor. This year's smartphones are addressing this problem with wide-angle lenses, so if Google ever decides to add another rear camera, who knows what will be possible!

Stuff like this is just lying around everywhere in Palm Springs!
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F4.5 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

Editing Pixel 3 Raws isn't my favorite experience at the moment, either. Editing Pen F files is familiar and comfortable to me, while handling Pixel Raw files seems to be a quirky process in its current state. When I use Camera Raw I start with a very flat, overexposed image (which seems to be unique to editing with ACR), and when I edit Raw photos in Snapseed I encounter a couple of bugs along the way (and don't love the small-screen edit experience). It's more than good enough for something I'll post on social media, but I wanted a little more control with my Palm Springs photos.

I also found myself taking advantage of a few Pen F features that were handy, if not necessarily must-haves. A viewfinder really came in handy under the bright mid-day sun. I also like a tilting LCD to compose shots from higher and lower angles. Also, the digital level was pretty huge for me, a person with (apparently) a crooked brain who is unable to keep horizons straight.

If every Bank of America looked like this I'd be a member tomorrow.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F4.5 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

To be sure, there are some third-party workarounds that would have adapted the Pixel 3 to my purposes better. I could have brought a wide-angle attachment lens along and used a camera app with a level. There are trade-offs when using either of these options, though.

I also prefer the anonymity of the Pixel 3. One morning I walked from the center of town a mile and a half to the visitor's center, a futuristic-looking building that used to be a gas station and is one of the most recognizable structures in town.

Roof of the Tramway Gas Station, currently home of the Palm Springs Visitor's Center.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F6.3 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

I was quite conspicuous on this journey for several reasons. For starters, nobody walks a mile to get anywhere in 80°+ heat if they can help it. I'm also incredibly pale and probably a danger to motorists walking under a beaming sun on the side of the road. I also had a Real Camera in my hand, and on top of that, am a lady.

Being a lady alone in public doing something out of the ordinary is, in my experience, an invitation for commentary, usually of the harmless "What are ya doin' there with that big ol' camera little missy??" variety. Well-meaning I'm sure, but my male colleagues don't quite experience the same interruptions.

Palm Springs: they aren't kidding about those palms.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1000 sec | F4.5 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

I wish I'd been shooting with the Pixel when I saw the Photo That Got Away. Traffic in the street was stopped at a red light, and I was walking parallel to a pickup truck towing a camper van with a majestic purple mountain on the side. Behind it was a backdrop of actual majestic mountains. It was perfect, except the driver was staring right at me staring at him.

Maybe I would have gotten away with it shooting with the phone. As it happened, it just felt too conspicuous, almost invasive, to pull the camera up to my eye and take a picture. The light turned green and I thought about that photo through the rest of the trip.

In any case, I made it to the visitor's center, which is a lovely building but I actually ended up taking my favorite picture around the back of it. Funny how that happens.

I walked a mile and a half through the desert to take this photo of a bench, I guess.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F6.3 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

I liked the experience of carrying the Pen F at my side. It put me in a mindset of taking photos that's harder to get into when I'm using my phone. But I don't think we're far from a future where the Pixel 3 satisfies almost all of the photographic needs I had on a trip like that, and there are real benefits to shooting with the Pixel 3 that traditional cameras don't provide now. The Pixel automatically backed up all of the trip photos I took with it to my Photos library, where they were instantly shareable, searchable and photo-book-printable. The Pen F sure didn't do any of that.

When I can get 90% of the image quality from a smartphone that I would from a traditional camera, and the experience of using it as a photographic device – from capture through editing – is 90% as good, I'll be ready to leave the camera at home when I go on a trip like the one I just took. That day probably isn't far off at all.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 1:00 pm

We've already looked at the role played by pixel size and the benefits of a larger sensor. But, before you rush out to buy the camera with the biggest sensor you can, it's worth bearing in mind that you won't always see its full advantage.

Key takeaways:

  • For the same field-of-view, a larger format will have shallower depth-of-field at the same F-number.
  • Shallow depth-of-field can be a creative benefit, up to a point, but you sometimes need a certain depth-of-field.
  • You can stop down a large sensor camera to match the depth-of-field of a smaller one, but you end up with comparable image quality if you do.
  • All formats are a series of compromises and there is no correct balance to strike.

The depth-of-field trade-off

As we've seen, if you can achieve the same exposure settings, a larger sensor will have a chance to absorb more light and hence give better image quality. But achieving the same exposure value usually requires you to use the same f-number.

With the same f-number, a larger format will also have shallower depth-of-field, which will sometimes be desirable but other times not. Depending on your tastes and shooting style, shallow depth-of-field (and the additional light that usually comes with it) can be a valuable creative tool. But only up to a point, and not in all circumstances.

A 'full-frame' sensor tends to require large lenses but can capture lots of light. This extra light capture comes with shallow depth-of-field (for better or worse).

In situations where you need more depth-of-field it's possible to stop down the lens on a large sensor camera, but doing so will reduce the amount of light available to your camera: at which point you'll see the advantage over a smaller-sensor system begin to diminish (while still having to deal with the larger format's size, weight and cost).

Bigger is usually better, but how much better do you need?

Also, the examples we've used were shot in relatively low light. In bright daylight, the image quality of many systems will readily exceed 'good enough:' even simple one-shot smartphones do a reasonable job in good light. And once you're reached 'good enough,' any further improvement may not be worthwhile, or even perceptible. So, while a larger sensor will give the potential to receive more light and capture every tone with greater fidelity, that difference won't always offer a visually appreciable benefit.

A smaller sensor can't usually capture as much total light or compete in absolute image quality terms, but it can generally be smaller and more convenient as a result.

In the most simple terms, all systems involve trade-offs between size, price and image quality. The challenge is to understand the magnitude of these trade-offs, and choose the one that makes most sense for you and the types of photos you want to take.

Posted: April 18, 2019, 12:00 pm

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