September 3rd, 2015

The Future of Storage: Portable, Durable Solid-State Drives

Sponsored by SanDisk

CLIFF MAUTNER, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Photographer Cliff Mautner shoots over 50 weddings per year. It’s high-stress, demanding work that means he’s always on the run. One weekend, he’s hopping a plane to San Francisco to shoot a wedding in a Federal-Bank-turned-wedding-hall. The next weekend, he’s photographing a couple in front of a New York sunset on a TriBeCa rooftop. Everywhere he goes, he brings his SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD, which he says is “perfect for the wedding photographer.”

Indian Weddings at The Palace at Somerset Park

Mautner photographed a multi-day wedding in Sommerset Park, New Jersey, backing up the images from each day to the SanDisk Extreme Portable 500 SSD. / © Cliff Mautner

“When I shoot weddings, I need a portable, durable, fast drive that I can trust,” Mautner says. “The Extreme 500 is as light as a feather and fits into my front pocket. I can bring it anywhere.”

The Extreme 500 has completely changed Mautner’s workflow. It’s size, speed, portability and storage capacity (ranging from 120GB to 480GB) means that he can edit his images whether he’s shooting an Indian Sangeet ceremony in Philadelphia, driving to upstate New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley or flying to Northern California. When he returns to his studio, he can easily hand off the Extreme 500 to his studio manager for processing.

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SanDisk Extreme 500

The Extreme 500 is a solid-state drive and connects to your computer via super-fast USB 3.0, making it four times faster than traditional external hard drives. Between the drive’s lack of moving parts and its rugged shock and vibration-resistant exterior, it is exponentially more reliable too. That means that when Mautner does want to outsource processing for a special event, he can ship the Extreme 500 without any fear that it will break under the rigors of shipping. It’s built to take a beating.

The SanDisk Extreme 500 makes it easy for Mautner to do his job without having to worry about failed hard drives or slow transfer speeds. When you are running at his speed, that makes a huge difference.

SAM NICHOLSON, CEO OF STARGATE STUDIOS

As the CEO of Stargate Studios, a state-of-the-art visual effects production house, Sam Nicholson is something like the conductor of an orchestra. On any given day, he’s managing ten different cameras from RED Epics down to GoPros, as they capture terabytes of footage from hit TV shows like The Walking Dead and Revenge. The footage is then transferred, copied, chopped up and shipped out to Nicholson and to offices in places like Berlin, Dubai and Malta where production staff create breathtaking visual effects.

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Stargate Studios produced visual effects for the Globo telenovela, Os Dez Mandamentos (The Ten Commandments), in Brazil. / © Stargate Studios

To move that mass of data around, Nicholson relies on the SanDisk Extreme 900 to make sure that the footage gets to its destination quickly and reliably.

“The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is the future. There’s no doubt about it,” Nicholson says. “It’s incredibly reliable and fast, which saves you time and money.”

Today, Stargate’s workflow consists of a combination of solid-state cards in his cameras, a footage trailer on set outfitted with 30 terabytes of slower spinning hard drives and SanDisk Extreme 900 drives for transferring between editorial staff, Nicholson and Stargate’s multiple production facilities. Nicholson is itching to “future-proof” his production pipeline by using the Extreme 900 throughout because of their speed, size of up to 1.9TBs and durability. He likened his current situation to a six-lane freeway that unexpectedly closes down to a two-lane highway when data reaches the spinning drives.

“Until we use solid-state drives like the Extreme 900 through the entire pipeline, it’s like a traffic jam of data,” Nicholson explains.

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SanDisk Extreme 900

In addition to the speed advantages, the Extreme 900 adds a layer of reliability that traditional spinning drives can’t match. In Stargate’s current workflow, Nicholson and his team have to back up all footage multiple times to protect from failing spinning hard drives—which he estimates occur 30 percent of the time. When he uses the Extreme 900, he doesn’t even bother backing up because he knows the drives won’t fail.

“Future-proofing” Stargate’s workflow doesn’t just save Nicholson time, it saves his entire staff time. That means less time transferring, copying and backing up data and more time doing what he and his team loves—crafting compelling stories and mind-blowing visual effects.

“No one pays attention to all the time that gets wasted managing your data,” Nicholson says. “When you realize how much time you can save, you understand why drives like the Extreme 900 are so important.”

September 3rd, 2015

Ricoh Theta S Delivers Spherical Photos Over Faster Wi-Fi

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Ricoh is refining its Theta spherical camera with the Theta S, bulking up the internal memory and delivering faster Wi-Fi.

Like earlier models, the Theta uses a pair of 180-degree lenses and two image sensors to record a scene and then stitches the two shots together in-camera to create a 360-degree spherical photo or video.

The Theta S snaps 14-megapixel stills and can record up to 25 minutes of spherical HD video at 1920x1080p30 to its 8GB of internal memory. Ricoh increased the sensor size and is offering an f/2.0 lens to capture more light. The Theta S offers ISO sensitivities from 100-1600 and shutter speeds from 1/6400 sec.-60 sec.

A faster Wi-Fi connection between the Theta S and mobile devices will allow you to instantly review the camera’s circular footage. The industrial design has also been tweaked with a new rubberized grip.

Once you’ve recorded your spherical shots, you can share them to Ricoh’s theta360.com or YouTube’s 360 channel or other social networks.

The Theta S will retail for $349.

September 2nd, 2015

New Tamron Prime Lenses Get Up Close and Personal

Tamron SP 35mm F1.8 Di VC USD_model F012 (Canon mount) copyTamron is taking aim at high-resolution DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with a revamped SP series of full frame prime lenses in 35mm and 45mm focal lengths.

In debuting the new SP series, Tamron is breaking a bit with prime lens convention by offering image stabilization–up to 3 stops for the 35mm lens and 3.5 stops for the 45mm, per CIPA standards. They’ve also pushed the close focusing capabilities of the news lenses. The 35mm lens can focus on objects up to 7.9 inches away while the 45mm lens can focus as close as 11.4 inches.

The new lenses are fast, with f/1.8 apertures (stopping down to f/16) and in the sample images we saw from the lenses’ official unveiling in New York, they look to offer excellent corner-to-corner sharpness with no vignetting. The SP series will get some new esthetics (new logo, a new font for lens markings and a gold ring around the lens mount) but more importantly, a robust metal body that’s sealed against the weather.

Both SP primes offer circular aperture diaphragms, eBAND coating to reduce flare as well fluorine coating on the front lens to make them easier to clean. Both lenses will accept 67mm filters. Finally, the SP series lenses will have a larger window over the distance scales to make them easier to read (20 percent larger than prior models).

Both the SP 35mm f1.8 VC USD (F012) and SP 45mm f/1.8 VC USD (F013) will retail for $599 and ship by the end of September in either a Canon or Nikon mount. A Sony A-mount is coming down the road at an unspecified time. Like other models, the Sony mount version won’t offer VC as Sony handles stabilization in-camera. The lenses will come with six year warranties.

Tamron SP 45mm F1.8 Di VC USD_model F013 (Canon mount)

September 1st, 2015

How Paul Colangelo Keeps Bears at Bay When Shooting in Wilderness

Photographer Paul Colangelo's camp, with an electric fence protecting his kitchen and supply tents. Todagin Mountain, norther British Columbia. ©Paul Colangelo

Photographer Paul Colangelo’s camp, with a solar-powered electric fence protecting his kitchen and gear tents. Todagin Mountain, northern British Columbia. ©Paul Colangelo

Working on long-term projects in remote locations can pose logistical challenges for photographers, including lack of phone and internet service, and power for recharging batteries for cameras, laptops, and other gear. Vancouver-based wildlife photographer (and PDN’s 30) Paul Colangelo explains how he copes with those issues in our story, “Managing Photo Tech on Location, Off the Grid.”

But he faces another kind of challenge altogether during his long trips into remote, open country of northern British Columbia: hungry grizzly bears. Colangelo isn’t too worried the bears will attack him. But he does worry about bears raiding his three-month supply of food while he’s out of camp, especially during the day “when I’m not there to scare them away.” Read the rest of this entry »

August 27th, 2015

Instagram Reorients, Adds Support for Portrait and Landscape Photo Sharing

1 - Format Icon_Square DefaultInstagram is no longer hip to being just square. The latest version of the app (7.5), which went live today in iTunes and Google Play, supports sharing photos and videos in both portrait and landscape orientations.

Writing that the “square format has been and always will be part of who we are,” Instagram also acknowledged that nearly one in five photos or videos posted to the network weren’t square.

Now photographers will have the option to tap a format icon and switch the orientation of the photo to their preferred format. In a user’s profile grid, portrait/landscape images are displayed as a center-cropped square. Photos taken using the Instagram app will still only be square.

Instagram is also updating its video features. Rather than have separate filters for stills and videos, the updated app will have a single set of filters than work on both. Users will now also be able to adjust the intensity of filters on video.

August 26th, 2015

Zun Lee’s Polaroid Archive Preserves African-American Self-Representation

© Zun Lee

The @faderesistance Instagram feed.

Photographer Zun Lee is dedicated to countering stereotypical, often negative views of the African-American family. While he was working on Father Figure, his book about African-American fathers, he stumbled on some old Polaroids that appeared to have fallen from a family photo album. He was intrigued to see how the Polaroids —”the Instagrams of their day,” he calls them — reflected “the way black people saw themselves in private spaces and in ways not intended to be seen, or judged, by others.” By searching yard sales and e-Bay, Lee has amassed 3,000 of these now “orphaned” mementoes and recently began posting them on a Tumbler and an Instagram feed named “Fade Resistance.”  After winning a Magnum Foundation Fellowship last week, Lee now plans to develop his Fade Resistance collection into an interactive digital archive that will allow the public and collaborators from other disciplines to add their own stories, videos and images. His long-term goal, he says, is “to encourage new ways of understanding black identity and representation in today’s world.”

courtesy of @faderesistance/Zun Lee Photo

A Polaroid as it appears on the @faderesistance feed.

The title of the project, Fade Resistance, echoes a phrase critic bell hooks used in an essay about vernacular African-American photography, in which she wrote that these snapshots are “sites of resistance” against pervasive stereotypical and racist depictions of African Americans. That the images were shot on Polaroid film appeals to Lee for a few reasons. First, he says, the instant cameras gave image makers the power to make their own narratives, without relying on a photographer or a lab. Also, the objects are one-of-a-kind, therefore more precious and fleeting, making preservation more urgent. In his proposal for the Magnum Foundation Fellowship, Lee wrote, “What had to happen to these families that they were no longer able to hold on to these valuable documents?” Lee scans the images as well as the notes written on the bottom or back of some images, which provide some clues to the subjects, and invite speculation: We can only wonder what happened to the man who wrote, “To Evelyn with love, hope and respect. Norris Turner. Good things come to those who wait. I’ve been waiting long enough (smile).”

On the @faderesistance Instagram feed, people frequently comment on the locations visible in the background of the images, as well as the hairstyles and clothing seen in the photos, which date from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Expanding the archive and its reach can help widen the search for more information about the stories behind each photo.

The Fellowship will allow Lee to work with the Brown Institute at Columbia University and collaborate with programmers on the development of the archive. In the future, he says, “multi-disciplinary collaboration would not only happen in the digital realm. I’m envisioning not just traditional print shows, but multimedia installations of this work in the future.”

The project may take years. Lee tells PDN, “I have a feeling this archive will be the gift that keeps on giving.” Until the interactive archive is complete, we can view —and enjoy—the photos of graduations, parties, beach outings and proud parents on Lee’s Tumblr and Instagram feed, and perhaps be reminded of our own special moments circa 1989.

Related articles

Magnum Foundation Grants 2 Fellowships to Support Collaborative Documentary Projects

The Father Figure

PDN’s 30 2014: Zun Lee

August 26th, 2015

(Instant) Film Is Not Dead: Fujifilm Sees Strong Sales of Instax Cameras

Just last month, we noted how Fujifilm was putting a number of films on the chopping block. But according to an investor presentation, the company is still doing a brisk business in instant cameras.

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What accounts for the rise in sales? According to Fuji, it’s thanks to young girls ages 10-20, who grew up in the digital age and see making instant prints as a “fresh experience.”

Whether they will continue to do so in the future remains to be seen, but those still using film appear to be having fun, so it’s bound to endure a bit longer.

(Via Imaging Resource)

August 25th, 2015

Olympus Brings Improved Stabilization, New Viewfinder Tech to E-M10 Mark II

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Olympus is bringing the five-axis stabilization it debuted in the E-M5 Mark II into its new OM-D E-M10 Mark II.

The five-axis stabilization system delivers up to four stops of stabilization, per CIPA standards. Beyond a steadier shot, the E-M10 Mark II will boast a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds image sensor and a redesigned body. Specifically, Olympus tweaked the dial and button shape and layout to make it easier to use the viewfinder.

Speaking of which, the E-M10 Mark II gets a brand new OLED viewfinder with 2.36 million dots and a 100 percent field of view (.62x magnification). It’s complimented by a new AF Targeting Pad that lets you move your thumb across the touchscreen to adjust your focus point. There’s also a Simulated Optical Viewfinder mode that boosts the dynamic range of the scene to more accurately mimic what the human eye would see, though this effect will not accurately represent what the camera is capturing.

The E-M10 Mark II offers an 81 point AF system with an eye detection mode. It has a native ISO range of 100-25,600. Shutter speeds top off at 1/4000 sec. mechanically but there’s an electronic shutter option to hit 1/16,000 sec. There will also be focus bracketing mode to capture a series of images with slightly different focusing depths. Using editing software with a stacking function, photographers could create images with a large depth of field even if they shoot at low apertures, Olympus said.

E-M10MarkII-SLV_right_M14150II-BLK_sAdditional features of the E-M10 Mark II include:

* 8.5 fps shooting up to 22 RAW images or 36 JPEGs

* touch autofocus via 3-inch tilting touch display

*1920x1080p30 video recording in ALL-I compression or 1080p60 in IPB compression

* new Clips video feature for recording 1,2,4 or 8-second clips that are merged in the camera

* 14 art filters

* a Live Composite mode for coaxing details out of bright areas in sequentially shot images

* 4K time-lapse that snaps up to 999 images every 5 seconds that are combined in-camera into a single 4K movie file.

* Wi-Fi

* focus peaking

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The E-M10 Mark II body will hit stores in September in black and silver for $650 or for $800 with M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42 f3.5-5.6 EZ lens

It will also have a new grip accessory – the ECG-3, for $60. In addition to a little extra real estate for your hand, it features a release lever for the battery and memory card. E-M10MarkII-SLV_tilt-higt_M1442EZ-SLV

 

 See Also: Olympus E-M5 Mark II Review

August 24th, 2015

What New Federal Trade Commission Guides Mean For Instagram Influencers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new guidelines regarding paid endorsements that photographers should be aware of—especially if they’re being paid to promote products on their Instagram feeds. This summer the FTC updated Guides to Section 5 of the FTC Act to add guidelines about how “Instagram influencers” and bloggers should identify any company or product they’ve been paid to promote.

Put simply, the Guides insist that if you are being compensated to endorse a company, product or event, you should say so. “The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading,” the FTC states.

According to the Guides, there are no fines for violations of the FTC Act. However, “law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations.” Not to mention legal fees.

In the FAQ section, the FTC addresses blogs and social media specifically. “Truth in advertising is important in all media,” the Commission writes, “whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media).” Read the rest of this entry »

August 21st, 2015

Magnum Foundation Grants 2 Fellowships to Support Collaborative Documentary Projects

© Peter DiCampo

Unfinished latrines. Wantugu, Northern Region, Ghana. 2014. © Peter DiCampo

Magnum Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Magnum Photos, has announced the winners of a new fellowship supporting photographic projects that invite public participation. Magnum Foundation has partnered with the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at the Columbia School of Journalism to create the Photography, Expanded Fellowship, which will help photographers “collaborate with technologists to expand their practices and to develop new forms for narrative storytelling to more effectively address social issues.” The 2015 Fellows will work with programmers, designers and advisors at the Brown Center to create public platforms for sharing their projects.

The winners of the first Photography, Expanded Fellowships are:

Peter DiCampo for a participatory photo project, “What Went Wrong,” looking at the impact of foreign aid money in Africa. DiCampo, the co-creator of the Everyday Africa Instagram feed, says the debate over the effectiveness or detrimental effects of aid needs “journalistic investigation, local perspective, visual history and frank discussion on what forms of ad do and do not work.”

Zun Lee for his “Fade Resistance” series, which aims fill gaps in the history of American snapshot photography by incorporating found Polaroids of African-American families. The fellowship will support the creation of an interactive platform that invites the public to participate in the collection, organization and narrative arrangement of the snapshots. The goal is to make the archive available to writers and historians.

Magnum Foundation has also awarded a project development grant. The winners are:

Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville, for “Women on the Outside,” a series of portraits and dialogues among women who have loved ones who are currently incarcerated. Katz and Riordan Seville are part of the group of photographers producing the Everyday Incarceration Instagram feed, comprised of images that examine mass incarceration in the U.S. With the grant, “the Everyday Incarceration team will create a web-based platform that invites viewers to witness and engage in the realities of women who are separated from incarcerated partners, family members and friends,” the Magnum Foundation says.

Magnum Foundation has previously organized symposia and workshops as part of their Photography, Expanded initiative to encourage documentary photographers to expand their storytelling beyond still photos.

Related articles:

Magnum Foundation Announces Emergency Fund Grants

How to Win Grants That Support Your Photo Projects

Zun Lee: PDN’s 30 2014

Founders of Everyday Feeds Launch @EverydayEverywhere, “Family of Man for the Modern Age”

Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?