Revisiting ‘The Americans’, Robert Frank’s Influential Photo Book

In this post, we’re going to revisit The Americans by Robert Frank. This influential photography book, first published in France in 1958, appears highly relevant today with the United States divided in so many ways. However, the odds are that these honest, and often sad images, have always been relevant. Using funds from a Guggenheim Fellowship, Frank, born in Switzerland in 1924, took a two-year road trip across the country, starting in 1955, and photographed people and places along the way. He captured galas and movie premieres, factories and gas stations, diners and a funeral, and so much more. His
Continue reading "Revisiting ‘The Americans’, Robert Frank’s Influential Photo Book"

Surprise! Holding a Camera to Your Face is Not Good in a Car Crash

Who would’ve guessed it? Holding a camera up to your face during a car crash can be quite hazardous to your health. New research by the University of Southern California and the International Cinematographer Guild has shed new light on the dangers posed by cameras in “free driving” situations. Free driving is a practice that cinematographers use when filming in a moving car. Camera operators will typically have their cameras shoulder mounted in the passenger seat — with this setup, if a crash were to occur, the airbags pose a significant risk. The same goes for stills photographers, as a DSLR
Continue reading "Surprise! Holding a Camera to Your Face is Not Good in a Car Crash"

Why Leveling the Horizon in Photos Isn’t Easy

It might seem like one of the simplest parts of photography: leveling your horizon. Most photographers want their horizons to be straight, of course, but this isn’t an area of photography that gets too much attention. And why would it? Leveling the horizon is a very easy task — right? In practice, though, it requires more care than many people think. You can’t just rely on your camera’s “virtual horizon,” or your post-processing software’s “auto straighten” tool. Our perception of a level horizon is more complicated than that.

The Easy Cases

Sometimes, leveling the horizon isn’t tricky at all. In
Continue reading "Why Leveling the Horizon in Photos Isn’t Easy"

How Ultra High Speed Cameras Shoot Up to 25,000,000 FPS

Tracking and panning a camera in time with a tank shell seems impossible given that the shell travels at over 1,500 meters per second. Yet, somehow, there are videos showing just that floating around the Internet. Here’s a 7-minute video from Curious Droid that lifts the veil of mystery on ultra high-speed cameras and explains how they work. It’s a look at how mind-blowing shots like this are achieved:
It’s all thanks to mirrors. Mechanical systems are capable of moving a mirror at the same speed as the projectile so that the angle of reflection allows the camera to film
Continue reading "How Ultra High Speed Cameras Shoot Up to 25,000,000 FPS"

The Difference Between Levels and Curves in Photoshop

Here’s a 6-minute video from PiXimperfect that looks at the difference between the Levels and Curves functions in Photoshop. While the two may seem similar in purpose, there are some very clear differences between them. An analogy instructor Unmesh Dinda gives is a comparison between a standard calculator and a scientific calculator. Levels is your “normal” calculator, performing basic functions like adding, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Curves is like a scientific calculator. While it’s more complicated to use, it can perform more advanced functions and calculations. You can achieve everything Levels can do by using Curves, but you can also
Continue reading "The Difference Between Levels and Curves in Photoshop"

The History and Philosophy of Copyright

Want to know the origins of the concept of copyright? Here’s a 25-minute video from Filmmaker IQ that looks at the history and philosophy behind modern-day copyright. While copyright may be crucial in the modern digital world creators live in, this has not always been the case. In ancient Rome, for example, artists and musicians were paid for their work and then “that was that.” Copying and redistributing art was just not a thing. In the 6th century AD, however, the trend was bucked. When St. Columba copied a book, word for word, by St. Finnian, the victim of
Continue reading "The History and Philosophy of Copyright"

Sheep Can Recognize Celebrity Faces in Photos

Sheep can recognize human faces in photos at a level that’s comparable to humans. That’s what scientists discovered through testing sheep by showing them celebrity portraits. Researchers at Cambridge University led by neurobiology professor Jenny Morton conducted the study by leading 8 different sheep one at a time into a research barn and showing them a photo of one of four celebrities: Barack Obama, Emma Watson, Fiona Bruce, and Jake Gyllenhall. The sheep were given food to create an association.
A sheep looking at a photo of Emma Watson.
Next, the sheep were taken into the barn and shown two
Continue reading "Sheep Can Recognize Celebrity Faces in Photos"

I Photographed the ISS Crossing the Full Moon at 17,500mph

This image was taken on November 4th, 2017 at 4:19 am in Titusville, Florida. It shows the International Space Station (with a crew of six currently onboard) transiting the full “Beaver Moon.” As the ISS orbits Earth at 17,500mph, or roughly five miles per second, the transit lasted just 0.90 seconds. This transit was visible from a narrow path stretching from the middle of Florida to the east coast. I was stationed in a very specific location, as being just several tenths of a mile can throw off a planned transit photo. Given that the transit occurred
Continue reading "I Photographed the ISS Crossing the Full Moon at 17,500mph"

Trump’s Official Portrait and the Language of Lighting

Nine months after taking office, the White House has finally released official portraits of both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Last month, the Washington Post did a story highlighting the empty walls of some 9,600 federal buildings, all waiting for for an official portrait of the new POTUS. In the meantime, the Department of Veteran Affairs was instructed to download/print a much older portrait of then candidate Trump, seen below. As a photographer and veteran involved in policy work, I am interested in both the messaging and methodology of Trump’s two official portraits. As a baseline
Continue reading "Trump’s Official Portrait and the Language of Lighting"

PSA: Scrub Geotag Data from Photos of Wildlife to Keep Poachers Away

In the modern age of photography, there are more and more cameras that embed GPS data into photos, something casual users may not even be aware of — this is particularly true of smartphone cameras. And here’s something you should be aware of: unwittingly sharing GPS data in photos of sensitive wildlife can directly lead to its death at the hands of poachers. Motherboard recently published a report on how the survival of many protected and endangered species relies on their locations remaining a secret. Poachers and collectors are known to browse social media and online sources for images taken
Continue reading "PSA: Scrub Geotag Data from Photos of Wildlife to Keep Poachers Away"

This is the Chaos Caused by Flying a Drone Near an Airport

On July 2nd, 2017, Gatwick Airport in the UK was forced to suspend its runways for a total of 14 minutes because a drone was flown in restricted airspace. This 2-minute visualization released by NATS shows the chaos that ensued. An approaching aircraft reported a sighting of a drone in the early evening and air traffic controllers took the decision to suspend the runways while the report was being investigated. The risk of a potentially catastrophic collision is very real. The video tracks the movements of different planes that were trying to land in and pass by Gatwick at the
Continue reading "This is the Chaos Caused by Flying a Drone Near an Airport"

How Instagram’s Photo Filters Are Used by Top Users

My name is Stefan, and I’m the CTO of the marketing firm Relatable. To facilitate execution of global, large-scale influencer marketing campaigns, we rely a lot on data to give us insights. Using a sample of about 2 million Instagram accounts (with a minimum of 1,000 followers) and 40 million posts, I’ve been digging deep, compiling statistics, finding insights, and just discovering some quirky facts. In this article, I’ll share some of my findings. Instagram filters are used to enhance photos, to give them that extra edge or just set the mood. But to what extent are they used? Using
Continue reading "How Instagram’s Photo Filters Are Used by Top Users"

The Eerie Victorian Era Trend of Family Death Portraits

In the 1850s, photography became much more affordable and accessible for consumers. This sparked a trend in the Victorian era of postmortem photography, where dead loves ones featured among the pages of family albums. Here’s a 2-minute video by the HISTORY channel about this creepy fad. Known as memento mori (which means “remember you must die”), the trend became increasingly popular for a period of time, and even Queen Victoria slept underneath a photo of her dead husband. Many people were photographed at home as if they were sleeping, often lit in a “heavenly light” from a nearby window. Pupils
Continue reading "The Eerie Victorian Era Trend of Family Death Portraits"

A Colorized Photo of Native Americans Looking at Camera Film in 1913

Here’s a beautiful photo from over 100 years ago that shows two Native Americans looking at a strip of photographic film against the sky. It’s a black-and-white photo that was colorized by colorization artist Jecinci. The photo was captured in 1913 by photographer Joseph Kossuth Dixon during an expedition with department store tycoon Rodman Wanamaker, who sponsored three photographic expeditions between 1908 and 1913 to document the Native American way of life. Here’s the original image as it’s found in the Library of Congress digital collection: The caption is: “Two Native Americans, wearing feather headdresses, looking at photographic
Continue reading "A Colorized Photo of Native Americans Looking at Camera Film in 1913"

Why You Should Look Into Shooting with Vintage Lenses

Vintage lenses seem to be increasingly popular nowadays, and not just in the hipster crowds. In this 5-minute video, photographer Mark Holtze looks at why some people are picking up (and dusting off) old vintage lenses instead of their more modern equivalents. The first and foremost reason is the cost. You can pick up some really nice vintage prime lenses made by respected brands for under $100. These lenses were once considered new and exciting (and often quite pricey), and just because they are older now doesn’t mean they don’t still do a good job. In this way, vintage lenses can
Continue reading "Why You Should Look Into Shooting with Vintage Lenses"

This is How You Replace the Shutter in a DSLR

Want to see how the shutter system in a modern DSLR is replaced once it fails? The South African camera repair company Photographic Repairs shared this time-lapse of a shutter replacement surgery involving a Canon 6D. “If you have seen “Error 20″ on your Canon DSLR before and wondered what it is we do to fix this problem, here is your answer,” Photographic Repairs writes. “In this time-lapse video, our super-star technician Raymond Whittaker replaces one of our client’s shutter units in his Canon 6D.” The camera is disassembled quite a bit before the shutter assembly can be reached
Continue reading "This is How You Replace the Shutter in a DSLR"

This First-Ever Solar Eclipse Photo Was Shot in 1851

For those in North America, the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017, could be the most photographed, viewed, and observed eclipse of all time. But back in 1851, cameras were in short supply, and that was the year the very first photograph was taken of a solar eclipse. The photo, shown above and below, was taken by Prussian photographer Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski. He’s widely considered to be the first person to photograph the phenomenon. Berkowski was commissioned by the Royal Prussian Observatory to capture the image and, until that point, no one had been able to do so while correctly exposing
Continue reading "This First-Ever Solar Eclipse Photo Was Shot in 1851"

This First-Ever Solar Eclipse Photo Was Shot in 1851

For those in North America, the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017, could be the most photographed, viewed, and observed eclipse of all time. But back in 1851, cameras were in short supply, and that was the year the very first photograph was taken of a solar eclipse. The photo, shown above and below, was taken by Prussian photographer Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski. He’s widely considered to be the first person to photograph the phenomenon. Berkowski was commissioned by the Royal Prussian Observatory to capture the image and, until that point, no one had been able to do so while correctly exposing
Continue reading "This First-Ever Solar Eclipse Photo Was Shot in 1851"

Adobe Debuts New Photoshop Tutorial Series on YouTube for Beginners

Adobe has launched a new Photoshop tutorial series for beginners on its YouTube channel, titled “3, 2, 1… Photoshop!” The series is hosted by Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost, and so far there are 7 videos in the series looking at different parts of the fundamental skills of Photoshop. While the tips are probably not going to be as helpful for more advanced users, there may be little tricks that you could have easily overlooked before. The first of the videos, which looks at the cropping tool, is embedded above. The rest of them are here for you
Continue reading "Adobe Debuts New Photoshop Tutorial Series on YouTube for Beginners"

A Detailed Look At How a DSLR Shutter Works

Have you ever wondered how the shutter of a DSLR works? This oddly satisfying 1.5-minute video from Chris Marquardt examines a shutter mechanism that has been extracted from a Nikon D500. The concept is pretty simple. There are two curtains, which are both spring-loaded and held in place by electromagnets. When you release the shutter, the mirror flips up and the two curtains are cocked, covering the camera’s sensor. The first curtain’s electromagnet then releases it so it swings open and exposes the sensor, allowing light in. The sensor stays exposed for the shutter length, and then the second
Continue reading "A Detailed Look At How a DSLR Shutter Works"